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Ibaraki: Demon of Rashomon Folks

Ibaraki  (Demon  of  Rashōmon) is the identify of the oni or demon who haunted the Rashōmon Gate close to Kyoto, and misplaced his arm to Watanabe, a devoted companion soldier of the legendary hero Raiko. (In some variations, Ibaraki is a feminine demon.) Ibaraki can also be the identify of a piece of Japan referred to as the Ibaraki prefecture, situated close to Tokyo.

A well-known Nō play referred to as Rashōmon and a preferred 1883 Kabuki play referred to as The Demon Ibaraki, written by Onoe Kikugoro and Kawatake Mokuami, was primarily based on the outdated, tenth-century folktales a couple of combat between the hero soldier Watanabe no Tsuna and Ibaraki on the bridge behind the Rashōmon Gate.

Ibaraki is a fearful presence who haunts the town gate and terrorizes harmless people who strive to cross into the town. Raiko orders Watanabe to kill the mon- ster to shield the residents. Watanabe waits on the bridge till the monster grabs his shoulder. The two opponents battle one another, and eventually Watanabe chops off the monster’s big, furry arm and clawed hand. Ibaraki flees, however vows to get his arm again.

One model of the legend says that Watanabe shops the arm in a particular casket. Another has him current the arm to Raiko, who retains it in a particular casket. In both case, Ibaraki wins again his arm utilizing brains quite than brawn: he disguises himself as Watanabe’s (or in some variations, Raiko’s) outdated nurse or aunt, and begs to be allowed to see the demon’s arm. At first the hero resists, fearing that the hand will hurt the outdated woman. But when he relents, the disguised Ibaraki snatches the arm from its field and escapes earlier than the astonished samurai can slay him.

These performs are good examples of how artists used historical myths and folktales to disguise the truth that they had been making enjoyable of present political conditions. Watanabe, who within the outdated story symbolized the people’s hero, right here represents the oppressive and unpopular samurai conflict lords who dominated the empire within the late 1800s.

The 1883 viewers would have acknowledged the identify Ibaraki as a Japanese area the place the samurai lived and dominated again within the medieval age. They would have additionally understood the traditional which means of the phrase oni included not simply “demon” however juvenile delinquent or gang member who terrorized respectable people. They would have gotten the joke: the large courageous samurai who may lower off the arm of the oni wasn’t good sufficient to acknowledge the identical oni in disguise.

The demon Ibaraki was a favourite topic for a number of well-known artists of the 1800s, together with Shibata Zeshin (who painted the demon’s likeness on the unique billboard for the Kabuki play), Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, and Utagawa Kuniyoshi.