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Arima Hot Spring Legends

. Legends about Onsen Hot Springs 温泉と伝説 .


Arima Hot Spring Legends

. Arima Onsen 有馬温泉 .
Arima Tosen Shrine 有馬 湯泉神社 Toosen Jinja
。。。。 including
No. 1 Tale : Two Gods and Three Crows of Arima

Folklores in Arima
Considered to be Japan's oldest hot springs resort, Arima Onsen is the setting of many Japanese legends and folklore handed down for generations. Consulting classical Japanese texts and the elderly citizens of Arima, the Ryuusenkaku staff has compiled this special collection of Arima folktales for your enjoyment.

Centering on the stories originating from area of Arima Onsen, these stories were collected and illustrated by the staff of Ryuusenkaku for the enjoyment of parents and children. Since many people have expressed an interest in the history of Arima, including our overseas guests, we have compiled an English edition of 16 tales in total with the kind cooperation of Mr. Bart A. Smith, an American translator residing in Nishinomiya City.

Check this link for the illustrations of the following stories.
source : www.ryuusenkaku.jp

No. 3 Tale : Saint Ninsai and the Spider Guide

Many, many years ago there was a time when it rained days without end in the Kobe area, causing the hot springs at Arima to stop gushing and the landscape to radically deteriorate. This decline existed until one spring about a hundred years later (about 800 years ago).

A Buddhist priest called Saint Ninsai of Yoshino was in the midst of his religious training when the incarnation of Buddha appeared and divinely revealed to Saint Ninsai, "In the Settsu country, there are hot springs on the Mount Arima. These springs are effective in curing illness, and I want you to build an onsen there. I will have the spider of the garden tree guide you to the location."

The following morning, Saint Ninsai left to search for Arima Onsen without delay and began pursuing a spider climbing the steep mountain of Rokko when suddenly the spider disappeared, and Saint Ninsai didn't know which way to go.

It was at this time that an old man with a very white beard appeared holding a tree leaf in his hand. The old man said, "A hot spring can be found at the place where this falls," and he threw the leaf toward the east and disappeared. Saint Ninsai said, "That couldn't be anyone else but the incarnated Buddha!" and he held his hands in prayer to the southern sky. Saint Ninsai stood up and went in search of the tree leaf.

The next day as he had descended a mountain, Saint Ninsai found the leaf, and he dug at the place where it had fallen. When he dug into the ground, water from a hot spring gushed out, and that is the place where Arima Onsen currently stands. Saint Gyoki, Saint Ninsai, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi are said to be the three patrons of Arima.

No. 4 Tale : Totoya-michi and the Mountain Dog's Repayment

A long time ago, there was a fish dealer living near the sea in Kobe who would carry the morning's catch of fish over Mt. Rokko to Arima Onsen. He would always travel over a mountain path called Totoya-michi, which means "Fish Dealer's Path" in Japanese.

Whenever the young fish dealer traveled along Totoya-michi, he would think about the mountain dog he occasionally saw in passing, and, being an animal lover, he would sometimes throw out an extra fish, shouting out, "Here's you a fish! Look, a delicious fish!"

One day in the shadows of the approaching dusk, the fish dealer was trudging along on his return trip from Arima when suddenly a large mountain dog appeared along Totoya-michi. "Oh, it's a wolf!" exclaimed the alarmed fish dealer as the large mountain dog lunged at the fish dealer. The mountain dog bit at the sleeve of the fish dealer's kimono and pulled with all its might. "Somebody help me!" the fish dealer screamed as he was being pulled behind a rock.

It was then when Totoya-michi heard a rustling sound and a loud noise before seeing a pack of wolves passing over the mountain path. "I understand now. You were saving me as a repayment for the fish!" From that time on, we continued giving his extra fish to the mountain dog knowing he had made a good friend.

Today many people have become familiar with the mountain path as an excellent place for hiking.

No. 5 Tale : Spider Waterfall

In olden times, a woodcutter who cut firewood on Mt. Rokko had finished his work and went down to the bottom of a waterfall near Arima Onsen. "Ahh. I'm very tired. I think I'll lie down for awhile," he said.

The woodcutter fell into a deep sleep. When this happened, a giant spider appeared from inside the basin of the waterfall spinning silk from its mouth. It wrapped its silk threads around the woodcutter's ankles. Startled by the spider, the woodcutter woke up. He began stealthily unraveling the threads, wrapping them around a nearby stump. "What the devil next?" he wondered.

It wasn't long when he thought the gurgling water of the basin was swirling and the spider appeared. The spider sucked up the stump into the basin of the waterfall. "Ah, I'm saved!"

After that the spider is said to have been exterminated by the lord of Arima.

addition to this waterfall, there are many waterfalls between Arima Onsen and Mt. Rokko. There is a waterfall named "Tuzumi-ga-taki (Drum Waterfall)" for the drum-like sound of the water hitting the rock and a waterfall named "White Pebble Falls" for the white pebbles spread out over the basin of the waterfall. (Unfortunately, no white pebbles remain after many visitors to Arima for the baths left with them.) Also, there is a waterfall of 10 m or more that freezes in winter and is called "Hyakken-daki (180-meter Waterfall)."

No. 6 Tale : Valley of Hell (Bird Hell and Insect Hell)

In ancient days in a ravine between hills in Arima Onsen, poisonous water gushed out of the ground due to the influence of a hot spring. As a result, whenever the birds or insects would drink water from the pond, they would die painfully. No one knows exactly when, but people began calling this place such names as Hell Valley, Bird Hell, and Insect Hell. Now there is only a stone monument.

No. 7 Tale : Mt. Kumuchi and Cedar Valley

Two years after "Taika Coup" in 645, the Emperor Kotoku came to Arima. Since there was not enough wood to build his palace, a search was conducted and a mountain was found to have an abundant supply of cedar trees. There the emperor used the cedar trees of those trees and a grand palace was built. The greatly pleased emperor gave kind words saying, "The contribution of this mountain is great" and the mountain became known as "Kumuchi-yama (Mountain of Services)" The mountain valley, from which the cedar was cut, was named "Sugi-dani (Cedar Valley)".

At this time, "Nakano-Oh'e no Oji" (later Emperor Tenji) and "Nakatomi no Kamatari" also came to Arima, attending to the emperor. There is talk that the name of Emperor Kotoku's child, "Arima no Oji (Prince of Arima)" came from being born in Arima. In addition to them, a large number of famous people visit Arima.

No. 8 Tale : Uwanari-yu (Jealousy Bath)

In days long gone by, there was a wife that discovered that her husband had a lover. She killed the lover and sank herself in a deep hot springs. After this unhappy event happened, a strange phenomenon began occurring. Whenever a beautiful woman stands next to it, the water in the pool starts to boil. For this reason, this hot springs bath was named "Uwanari-yu (Jealousy bath)". It is here where "UwanariJinja (Jealousy Shrine)" was built. Although this legendary bath has long since dried up and a new hot springs pool was dug behind it, the red torii or Shinto shrine gate, remains standing from the "Uwanari Jinja."

No. 9 Tale : Tamoto-ishi (Tamato Stone)

Once upon a time Lord Matsunaga was riding a dappled gray horse and carrying a Shigedo Bow, a white feather bow, and white feathered arrows.

When hawking, the god enshrined at the Tosen Shrine, "Kumano-kusumi no Mikoto" passed the hunting spot. Lord Matsunaga, thinking this was strange, shot at the Tosen god. When this happened, the god picked up a small pebble from his "tamoto (sleeve)" and threw it at Lord Matsunaga. This small pebble through the years has become bigger, and because it was thrown from the sleeve, is often called either "Tamoto-ishi (Tamoto Stone)" or "Tsubute-ishi (Thrown Stone)".
e giant boulder exists even today near the Taiko Bridge weighing around 130 tons and standing at a height of 5 m with a circumference of 19 m.

After this, riding a dappled gray horse and carrying a Shigedo Bow has been prohibited in Arima. It is said that whenever someone violates this rule when entering Arima, the fair weather becomes cloudy and suddenly it becomes heavy rain and wind.

No. 10 Tale : Negai-zaka (Slope of Wish)

The origin of the name for Negai-zaka involves a visit to Arima by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1589. When Hideyoshi climbed to an overlook in a high mountain facing the southwest from Seiryoin, he tapped the ground and shouted, "If this area has a hot spring that gushes up from the ground, I declare all of the land to the sea and beyond is mine" He commanded the ground, "Erupt with hot water!"

As he spoke these words, hot water began gushing at their feet little by little, and a hot spring developed. People began calling this hot spring such names as "Kami-no-yu" or Hot Spring of the Upper and the "Negai-no-yu" or Hot Spring of Wish. Although the hot spring stopped gushing when Hideyoshi died, the sloping path from Onsenji Temple to Nenbutsuji Temple is still called "Negai-zaka (Slope of Wish)" even today.

No. 11 Tale : The Teakettle of Zenpukuji Temple

One day Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98) visited a Zen temple near Mt. Tenjin called Ranjaku-in Amida-do where he saw the large head of the chief priest. Hideyoshi thought that the head of the chief priest resembled a large boar and remarked to the priest. "You have a strange head; let's call for Rikyu." He called for Sen-no-Rikyu, the most famous master of the tea ceremony, and ordered him to have a teakettle made in the shape of the chief priest's head. Rikyu asked the great craftsman Yojiro to make the kettle. Upon its completion, the teakettle was named "bullnecked kettle." However, people called it "Amida-do," and this is how Amida-do teakettle got its start for use in tea ceremony.

The Amida-do kettle made by Yojiro continues to be handed down at Arima Onsen's Zenpukiji, a temple famous for its weeping cherry trees.

No. 12 Tale : Kobu-zaka (Lump Slope)

In olden times, there was a sick man with a big "kobu (lump)", over his eye. Hoping to be cured, he went to Arima Onsen and prayed to Yakushi Nyorai to heal him. Despite coming all the way to Arima and bathing in the hot springs, he was not cured. Resigned to his fate, the sick person decided to leave Arima.

Incidentally, there is a slope to the east of Arima. As the sick man was walking up the slope to leave Arima, the lump miraculously dropped from above his eye like ripe fruit dropping from a tree. When people heard about that they started calling the place "Kobu-zaka (Lump Slope)". This sloping path going from Arima Onsen to Zuihoji Temple is now neatly paved.

No. 13 Tale : Otoku-san

In olden times, the Arima Onsen was called "Yu-no-yama (Bath Mountain)" of the Settsu Country, and there was a hut in the range of mountains after entering the Yu-no-yama or Arima. This hut honoring Buddha and Jizo (guardian deity of children) was built as a place for travelers to rest. At this hut, there was a woman named Otoku who lived there and gathered mountain vegetables and herbs for the guests at an inn. Gradually, the inn had gained a reputation for healing the illness of the guests using mineral baths and providing food with wild plants.
Read the rest here
source : Otoku-san

No. 2 Tale :
Saint Gyoki and Hot Springs of Arima

A long time ago there lived a famous holy man called Saint Gyoki (668-749). Saint Gyoki was known for his great mercy and was deeply loved by the people. One day he was on his way to Arima, and he came across a sick person that had collapsed on the road. "What's wrong?" he asked the sick man.

"I want to enter the Arima bath to heal myself, but I don't have money for food. On top of that I can only eat new fish," the sick man replied. Understanding the man's great troubles, Saint Gyoki went to Nagasu (south of JR Amagasaski Station) and brought back lots of new fish for the sick person to eat.

After heartily eating the fish, the sick man said this time, "My skin hurts so bad, I can't stand it. Please kindly lick my skin with your mercy." Saint Gyoki without hesitation did as he was told and licked the sick man's skin.

When this happened, light came out of the sick person's body and Yakushi Nyorai (a Healing Buddha Master) appeared, "I am the Healing Master at Onsen Mountain. Your compassionate heart deeply moved me. Go to Arima from now and help the sick. I will assist you in your work." Having said that, the Healing Buddha Master disappeared, After Saint Gyoki arrived at Arima, he built an Onsenji Temple to celebrate Yakushi Nyorai, the Healing Buddha Master, and he spent his life consoling and encouraging the sick. Even now the statues of Yakushi Nyorai and Saint Gyoki are enshrined at the Onsenji Temple.

No. 14 Tale :
Funasaka and Saint Gyoki

It happened many years ago, when Saint Gyoki (668-749) was traveling from place to place healing the people suffering from illness that he happened to meet. Hearing that there was a famous bath in a place called Arima in the Settsu country, he decided to go there. After climbing a steep mountain and he began approaching the area of Funasaka, Saint Gyoki's legs could carry him no further. The village people, having finished their work in the mountain, passed by exhausted Saint Gyoki and seeing him leaning on a pine tree, they hurried to take him back with them.

The village people thought that it would be good for him to eat something to restore his health, but living a poor daily existence they had only simple food. "I've got it," somebody said, "I heard that if you eat carp you will regain your health!" Another person said, "It's decided. I'll run past the mountain to the pond in the inner part and catch a carp!" said a good youth in high spirits as he ran off clutching a basket.

When the youth returned with the basket, there was a large, splendid carp inside thought to the spirit of the pond. The village people immediately started cooking the fish. They fed Gyoki the fish, and his health returned.

However, even though the body became vigorous, Gyoki's spirit could not be elevated. He saw the discarded bone of the carp and thought, "Although my life was saved, in exchange this life was extinguished." Incanting a Buddhist prayer, he properly picked up and collected the bones of the carp, made a mound, and performed a memorial service for the carp.

Funasaka is located north of the Nishinomiya-kita Toll Road (Bantaki Tunnel). Now, there is a golf course in Funasaka where remains a place name called "Koi-zuka (Carp Mound)".

No. 15 Tale : Fire Protecting Jizo of Konomoto

From olden times Arima has been called "Yu-no-yama (Bath Mountain)" with many people coming to have their pain and illness cured. To get to the Yu-no-yama or Arima from Osaka or Kyoto, people must pass through Namaze. Thinking it would be a shame not to stop on their way, many visitors to Arima visit the temple where the statue of Konomoto "Jizo (guardian deity of children)" is housed. The nearby villagers place great importance on the kind Jizo since it is this patron saint that protects the children and women of the village.

In the vicinity of the Jizo lived a farmer named Otoji of Kawabe, who from an early age believed deeply in Buddha and often prayed to Konomoto Jizo. Otoji was married and the couple had a lovely baby.
Read the rest here
source : Jizo of Konomoto

No. 16 Tale :
Origin of Motoyu
"Ryuusenkaku 龍泉閣 Dragon Spring Inn "

source : www.ryuusenkaku.jp/english


Photo by Pedro Teixeira da Mota

. Gyoki Bosatsu (Gyooki Bosatsu) 行基菩薩 .
(668-749 AD)

. The Dragon Art Gallery – 2012 .


. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .

. Tohoku after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011




Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Legends of Japan

Gabi Greve said...

Yakushi Nyorai 薬師如来 and legends from Hyogo 兵庫県