Stories of this child, seemingly drinking oil from a lantern can find it origins in the town known as Hacchō in the city of Ōtsu; historically this place being located in Ōmi Province. Here it was said that balls of fire can been seen flying through the air due to the past transgressions of an oil seller.
The story, entitled ‘The Oil Stealer’s Fire’ found in the Shokoku Rijin Dan (Stories of Common Folk) says that there once lived an oil seller. However, to restock his oil to sell to people he would often take the oil left as offerings at the statues Jizō of at the crossroad of Ōtsu.
When the oil seller finally passed on, he became a kind of spirit fire that is said to wander around to this day. The Akura akagi, is then thought of as a baby who is perhaps a reincarnation of this man.
Oil lamps historically at this time used sardine oil.1
- View the Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki online here: Konjaku Online.
1. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
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