Fujiwara Hidesato

Hear about Fujiwara Hidesato on Episode 6 of our Podcast, the Japan Archives.

Fujiwara Hidesato
Fujiwara Hidesato by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1890.

Fujiwara Hidesato

Fujiwara Hidesato (藤原 秀郷) also known as Tawara Tōda (俵藤太)3 is included in the Folktale My Lord Bag of Rice. He is noted to have had the nature of a warrior with a huge bow much taller than himself.1

Family

Hidesato was a decendant of Fujiwara no Uona and son of Fujiwara no Murao and as such is a part of the Fujiwara Clan.3

Historical Background

He is known to have been a military beaurocrat serving under Emperor Suzaku.2

Exiled in 916 he later was pardoned and appointed as an Ōryōshi (Military Constable) in Shimotsuke.3

In 940AD he is noted to have formed an alliance with Taira no Sadamori in order to defeat Taira no Masakado. Afterwards, he was given the position of Chinjufu-shōgun as well as Governor of Shimotsuke. Hidesato had many descendant clans, those amongst them being the Ōshu-Fujiwara, Shimokōbe, Oyama and Yūki clans.23

My Lord Bag of Rice

In the story, Fujiwara wanting adventure set out over Seta-no-Karashi Bridge on Lake Biwa whereupon he found a dragon laying across it. Undeterred he walked over it, straight afterwards the dragon turned into his human form revealing himself as The Dragon King.

He beseeches Tawara to help him kill the giant centipede Seta who is taking members of his family, living upon Mount Mikami. He agrees.

They wait in the Dragon King’s Palace at the bottom of the lake until the centipede appears. Afterwards, he goes to confront the centipede firing two arrows at his forehead. Both hit the creature in the centre of its head but they deflect, its shell protecting it.

After a few moments, he remembers that human saliva is deadly to centipedes and so wetting his last arrow with his saliva he shoots it again. This time the arrow pierces the creature and kills it. As thanks, the King throws a banquet for him in his palace, and gifts him with:

  • A large bronze bell.
  • A bag of rice.
  • A roll of silk.
  • A cooking pot.
  • A bell.

In the end, he donates the bell to Mii-dera Temple. The bag of rice never grew empty. The roll of silk never grew shorter. The cooking pot, no matter what was put in cooked delicious food. Due to this, he became very wealthy.1

Footnotes

1. Ozaki, Y.T. (1903) “The Japanese Fairy Book”. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
3. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.

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