Onward with the folklore!
Today is for the yokai named Dodomeki.
The name roughly translates to “many eyed” demon and it’s quite the literal translation as the transformation into a Dodomeki happens when young women give in to the temptation of stealing money and as a consequence, small bird eyes spout from their skin.
The name comes from a series of word plays and to explain it better, here’s an excerpt from yokai.com:
The copper coin, or dōsen, had a hole in the middle of it, and was colloquially known as a chōmoku, or “bird’s eye,” due to its shape.
The phrase ashi ga tsuku is a common idiom which means “to catch someone who has committed a crime.” Very clever readers would have noticed that if the word ashi, which can also mean money, is replaced with chōmoku, which can also mean money, the phrase changes to mean “covered in bird eyes.”
The story tells of an oni spotted causing havoc around a horse graveyard at night, to which the lord of those lands -Fujiwara no Hidesato- quickly ran to fight off.
As the demon appeared, ten foot tall and covered in glowing eyes, Hidesato shot an arrow to the brightest eye making the oni run away, only to collapse near the Mount Myoujin (in Nara).
Giving chase, Hidesato witnessed as a burst of flame was released from the Dodomeki’s body and poisonous gas escaped from the mouth. Unable to keep up the fight due to the poisoned air and heat, Hidesato had to flee. The next day when he returned, there were only remains of heavily burnt ground, with no sight of the Dodomeki.
400 years passed, and a priest named Chitoku was responsible for the investigation of unexplained fires at the temple of a town near the Mount Myoujin. Whenever the priest gave his sermons, he noticed the presence of a woman under a robe that would approach the temple and by confronting her she admits her identity to be the Dodomeki that once disappeared in that same area where the temple was built.
By scaring the priests with the fires, bit by bit the Dodomeki had the opportunity to regain the blood it spilled and toxic fumes that were once released when wounded in the past.
But despite the original intent, feeling enlightened by overhearing the powerful sermons of Chitoku, the Dodomeki vowed to do no evil ever again and since then the name Dodomeki was given to the area around Mount Myoujin.
With this illustration we sketched and inked traditionally and added the colouring digitally. You can see the lines on this post!
In our own version of the Dodomeki tale, even if only platonic, we wonder if there was a spark when power met with power on opposite ends of the scale.
★Have a great weekend everyone, stay inspired★
4 thoughts on “A Japanese Folk Tale: Dodomeki”
I really enjoyed this Japanese folk tale. I would love to know more of them.
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Thank you so much for your comment! We’re glad that you also enjoyed it.
We intend to keep sharing several folktales and we hope that those will be interesting too!
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