Mystery tour: Taira no Masakado – Part 1 –
Roll up for the mystery tour!
This one can be categorized as an urban legend as well.
Masakado no Kubi-zuka (The burial mound for Masakado’s head)
Taira no Masakado is said to be one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan.
There are some novels about Masakado, and “Teito Monogatari” (lit. The Tale of the Imperial Capital) by Hiroshi Aramata is one of them.
It’s a story of a man who tries to destroy the city by making use of Masakado’s spirit.
Masakado was a descendant of Emperor Kanmu.
His grandfather was granted the family name “Taira” by the Emperor at the time (thus he was not a member of the Imperial family any more), and was sent to the “Kazusa” county (the present Chiba area) as a provincial governor.
After serving out his term, he settled down in the area, increased his power and became one of the powerful clans.
(The capital of Japan back then was the present Kyoto, so the region where he was was considered as a remote and unsophisticated place.)
In 935, Masakado killed one of his uncles after longtime troubles over his deceased father’s property.
This family feud ended up in Masakado’s death as a rebel against the government.
Masakado was shot in his forehead and died in February 940.
After his death, his head was chopped off to be brought to Kyoto.
It was exposed to public.
This punishment (exposing a decapitated head to public) was called “Gokumon”, and the Masakado case was the first “Gokumon” on the record.
It is said that his head flew back to the present Kantou region (areas including Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Kanagawa), then fell to the ground.
There are several spots called “Masakado no Kubi-zuka”, and the one in Ootemachi, Tokyo is the most famous among all.
Troubles that actually occurred around “Kubi-zuka”
According to the official website of Japanese National Tax Agency, the government destroyed the “Kubi-zuka” to build a temporal building for the finance department in 1924.
The original building was burnt down in the Great Kantou earthquake (“Kantou dai-shinsai”) in the previous year.
Then in 1926, the Minister of Finance suddenly died, the manager of its construction as well as the engineer of the property management bureau also died in the following year, and many misfortunes happened.
(In other websites, it is said 14 people in total were dead in two years. They were either involved in the construction or were finance department officers.)
People rumoured about Masakado’s curse, and a monument to console the spirit was allegedly built in 1927.
In June 1940 (1000 years since Masakado’s death), there was a big fire caused by thunderbolt in the town and the building for the finance department was burnt down.
Moreover, after the Pacific war, American military tried to clean the land where “Kubi-zuka” was, but a bulldozer working on the spot overturned and the driver was killed in the accident.
An urban legend?
There is a rumour that buildings near “Kubi-zuka” either don’t have windows which are facing to it or hang blinds so that people in those buildings won’t look it down.
Also, they arrange desks to avoid them to showing their bottoms to it.
Some say it’s not true, and some say it is, so I don’t know if this is just an urban legend or not.
Maybe it depends on which office people belong to.
I’ve never been to this “Kubi-zuka”, but my friend in Tokyo once told me “My psychic friend said it was a dangerous place”.
Well, considering what have happened, at least we shouldn’t neglect “Kubi-zuka”…
Next: The Barrier for Masakado
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