Mononobe no Moriya

Mononobe no Moriya
Artistic renderring of Mononobe no Moriya.
  • Period: Asuka Period
  • Occupation: –
  • Family: –
  • Birth: –
  • Death: –

Mononobe no Moriya

Mononobe no Moriya (物部 守屋) was head of the Mononobe Clan during the reign of Emperor Sushun. He, not wishing to have Sushun on the throne, and to promote a different candidate, ended up in a skirmish against Soga no Umako in which Moriya lost, leading to Sushun’s accension.1

Moriya had been defeated and killed by Shōtoku Taisha. However, his soul not wanting to rest transformed into a flock of woodpeckers (known as the Teratsutsuki 寺つつき) which attacked with fury Shōtoku Taisha’s temple, Shitennō-ji which Shōtoku had built in thanks to the ‘four heavenly kings’ who he believed had helped him win against the Mononobe Clan. You can find a depiciton of this creature in the Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki.

Teratsutsuki
Teratsutsuki in the Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki

In the book known as the Genpei Seisuiki it says:

‘in order to destroy the temple, Moriya’s furious spirit transformed into a flock of several thousand woodpeckers, which began hurling themselves to death on the building. Taisha transformed himself into a hawk to chase them away. It is said no woodpeckers can be seen near [here] to this day.’2

Footnotes

1. Martin, P. (1997) ”The Chrysanthemum Throne”. Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Limited.
2. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: over Publications, Inc.

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Mononobe no Moriya