Monster Monday: Kiyohime

Monster Monday: Kiyohime

I love Japanese folklore. They seem to have a monster for every occasion.

With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I thought I’d chat about Kiyohime, a dragon-woman who was transformed by unrequited love.

Long ago, a young priest named Anchin visited a village, and was offered lodging in the mayor’s house. Anchin fell in love with the mayor’s daughter, the beguiling and beautiful Kiyohime, and promised to return to her after his journey to a nearby temple.

However, after professing his heart to her, he had a change of one. The legend says he shunned her, and I get the impression that he didn’t really tell her why he left — he just continued on his merry way without breaking up face-to-face. That didn’t go over well. Kiyohime grew furious at his sudden change of heart. Enraged, she pursued him to the edge of a river.

Terrified, the priest asked a boatman to help him to cross the river, and told him not to let the woman who pursued him cross with his boat. When Kiyohime saw that Anchin was escaping, she jumped into the river and began swimming after the boat. Her rage was so all-consuming that she transformed into a huge dragon, and she followed Anchin into a temple, where he hid under a large bell. The dragon smelled him inside the bell, and she coiled around it, clanging it many times to drive him out. When that failed, she let forth a fireball and melted the bell, reducing her beloved to ashes.

So, on that note, may all your love be returned, and may your Valentine’s Day be mercifully dragon-free!


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