Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Kubizuka, memorial stone pagodas and mounds
for the beheaded ... 首塚

Kubizuka, grave or tomb for a head, a mound and stone memorial beneath which tradition says the head of a beheaded, killed person rests. The wrath of a beheaded person can be terrifying, so some memorial stones or even Shinto shrines were errected in the places where the beheading took place.

People who died a violent death used to come back and haunt the living; they were called "vengeful spirits" onryoo 御霊、怨霊 Onryo.
Read my article about the most fearful of them all:

- Sugawara Michizane 菅原道真 - .


This is a small memorial shrine at the place of execution in the east of Tsuyama town, where I live. It was used until the end of the Edo period to behead people found guilty by the government.
More than 1000 heads were cut off here.

Let us look at some famous head mounds in Japan.


Iruka Soga's Kubizuka

Iruka Soga's Kubizuka, Asuka, Asuka Village. It is located on the edge of rice field, about 100 m west of Asuka-dera temple. It is probably the oldest one in Japan.

This stone monument, reportedly made in the Kamakura Period (1285-1333), indicates the mound where Iruka Soga (蘇我 入鹿, ?-645)'s heads were allegedly buried.

He was assassinated by Prince Naka-no-Oe (中大兄皇子), Saeki-no-muraji-komaro (佐伯連子麻呂) and Kazuraki-no-waka-Inukai-no-muraji-Amita (葛城稚犬養網田) in the presence of the 35th Empress Kogyoku (皇極天皇, 594-661; r.642-645)* at the Asuka-Itabuki-no-miya Palace (飛鳥板葺宮), which is called "Isshi-no-hen" (乙巳の変; the Murder in the Year of Isshi ) on June 12, 645.

Empress Kogyoku, deeply shocked at the murder, soon abdicated the throne to the 36th Emperor Kotoku (孝徳天皇, 596?-654; r.645-554).

The Soga-clan was a very powerful family who took over the reins of government and killed Shotoku-taishi (聖徳太子)'s son Prince Yamashiro-no-Oe (山背大兄皇子), but they were perished in 645 by Prince Naka-no-Oe (中大兄皇子; later Tenji-tenno [天智天皇], 626-678;r.668-671) and Kamatari Nakatomi (中臣鎌足, 614-669), the founder of the Fujiwara clan (藤原氏). It is called "Taika-no-Kaishin" (大化の改新; the Reformation of the Taika Era).

After Emperor Kotoku's death, Ex-Empress Kogyoku retook the throne and became the 37th Empress Saimei (斉明天皇, r.665-661) for a complicated reason.

Copyright (c) 2006 Eishiro Ito. All rights reserved.
© Atelier Aterui with more information !

Read more:
First and Last of the Soga / Kubizuka in Asuka


The famous head mound of Masakado in Tokyo

The body of Taira Masakado, first buried in what is now Marunouchi, was stolen by his friend and buried somewhere near the shrine Kanda Myojin. His head was severed by Fujiwara no Hidesato and had been buried in various places in Edo, carrying its curse with it ... Masakado has a shrouded Force, best left alone...

. Taira no Masakado 平将門 (? – 940) .
- Introduction -

WIKIPEDIA : Taira no Masakado

. . . . . 首塚の歴史

Daruma Museum
Kuyoo Mon ... 九曜紋 ...Nine Stars Crest ... and Taira no Masakado 平将門

gokei 五刑 five judicial penalties
keijoo, keijō 刑場 execution ground
Kodenma-choo, Kodenma-chō 小伝馬町 Kodenma-cho prison in Edo
rooya 牢屋 prison, jail
shokei 処刑 execution
. Criminal Punishment in Edo .


Tamanawa Kubizuka 玉縄首塚由来(怨親平等)
Kamakura Town


This is a mound where 35 warriors (the Watauchi Fukuhara and Ofuna Amakasu clan) killed in battle are buried. They were trying to repel an attack against Kamakura of Mr. Awa Satomi's in 1526. There are six Jizo in a row.

On August 19, an annual festival is held with memorial services and lighted lanterns are launched on the water - a custom called Toro-nagashi.

© Kamakura Town



One more story from the history of Kamakura

The Tomb of Prince Morinaga (護良親王の墓)
It is surrounded by stone hedges at the top of a steep 120-step stairway.

The Taiheiki (太平記, Chronicle of the Great Peace), a story of the wars between the Northern and Southern Courts during the period 1318-1367, relates in detail the death of Prince Morinaga (a.k.a. Moriyoshi, 1308-35).

Fuchinobe Yoshihiro (淵野辺義博), the man who had killed Prince Morinaga, was due to take the head to his master, Ashikaga Tadayoshi, but he hesitated, feeling that the victim’s eyes continued to glare as if he were still alive. So, instead, he threw the head into some bushes.

Upon hearing of this, a priest from Richikoji Temple (理智光寺) retrieved the head and buried it here. This area falls within the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency.

© Kamakura: History & Historic Sites


Sakanoue no Tamuramaro 坂上田村麻呂
(758 - 811)
and the head mounds in the Tohoku region.

. Sakanoue no Tamuramaro .


Kubizuka Daimyojin Shrine 首塚大明神
京都府京都市右京区 - Kyoto

- quote
... near Oinosaka Pass on Rte 9, is a popular tourist attraction as well as a major haunted spot in Kyoto. It is believed that Shuten-doji, a leader of mysticism and magic, was killed by Minamoto Yorimitsu and his head was buried here in the Heian period.

The shrine has a gloomy and sinister feel even in daytime. You feel your body become heavy on a sudden even if you are not spiritually sensitive. Photographs taken here will get innumerable orbs floating all over. Rumor has it that people get cursed once passing through the torii gate, or that a lady with downcast eyes always stands at a bus stop in the midnight.
- source : guides-japan.com

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. 酒呑童子 Shuten Doji and the Rashomon Gate .

- quote
Shuten Dooji Shuten-dōji 酒呑童子 Shuten Doji
also sometimes called 酒顛童子, 酒天童子, or 朱点童子)
is a mythical oni leader who lived in Mt. Ooe (大江山) of Tamba Province or Mt. Ooe (大枝) on the boundary between Kyoto and Tamba in Japan. He was based in a palace somewhat like a Ryūgū-jō on Mt. Ooe, and he had many oni subordinates.
Various birth legends
- Shuten-doji, according to one legend, was born at Ganbara, Echigo.
- He, who was born in Echigo in the Heian era (8th century) when Dengyō Daishi and Kōbō-Daishi were active, became a page of the Kokojou-ji (国上寺) (in Tsubame, Niigata) (at the base of Mt. Kugami, there is a Chigo-dou where he is said to have passed through).
- He, who was born from the large snake Yamata no Orochi and a human girl, was a page at Mount Hiei from an early age, and underwent training, but he drank sake which was forbidden by Buddhism, and in face was a big drinker, and was therefore hated by everyone.
- From the Kamakura era to the Heian era, he was an “oni” who lawlessly ran amok in the capital, and he was based in Mt. Ooe in the Tamba Province, or the Ooe in Nishikyō-ku, Kyoto, also known as Oi no Saka (老ノ坂) (within the Rakusai district of Kyoto) as well as the neighboring Shinochououji, Kameoka.

- He was a page for the Byakugō-ji in the Yamato province (presently, Nara Province), but found a corpse at a nearby mountain, and due to curiosity, brought that meat back to the temple, and made his priest teacher eat it without telling him that it was human meat.
Afterwards, the page frequently brought back meat, not only from the flesh of corpses, but also by murdering live humans and returning with their flesh. The priest, who thought that it was suspicious, followed after the page, discovered the truth, harshly criticized the page, and abandoned him in a mountain. The page later became Shuten-doji, and it has been said that the place where he was abandoned was thus called “chigo-saka” (page-hill).
- According to another theory, he was a child of the chief priest of Byakugō-ji, but as he matured, he grew fangs and a horn, and later became a child as rough as a beast. The priest was embarrassed by this child, so the child was abandoned, but the child later came to Mt. Ooe, and became Shuten-doji.

As one of the three great evil yokai
It has been often said that Shuten-doji was the strongest oni of Japan, who, along with the white-faced golden-furred nine-tailed fox Tamamo-no-mae, and Emperor Sutoku who became a Daitengu as a result of resentment, are called one of the “three great evil yokai.”
- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

kumo no mine ni hiji suru Shuten Dooji kana

Shuten Doji
rests his ellbow on a peak
of billowing clouds . . .


GOOGLE with 首塚 for more photos !


Japanese Ghosts and Ghost Stories, kaidan 怪談

My Stone Memorials Photo Album has more !

Mark Schumacher


. . . . . . . . H A I K U

kubizuka ni rozario hitotsu gaku no hana

on the head mound
just one rosary -

Kashiwara Min-U 柏原眠雨


hana akari joji ni kubizuka hitotsu mori

bright cherry blossoms -
by the roadside just one
head mound   

Yamanaka   山中西放


首塚の あたり三つ四つ 姫ホタル
kubizuka no atari mitsu yotsu hime botaru

by the head mound
three, four
princess fireflies

Tamura Michio  村田通夫


teki mikata naki kubizuka ya chichiro fumu

no more friend, nor enemy
at the head mound -
I step on a cricket

Mizushima Ya-u 水島夜雨


ishi o tsumu dake no kubizuka kotori kuru

just some stones
piled up for a head mound -
little birds come by

Kuriyama Keiko 栗山恵子

all translations by Gabi Greve

- #kubizuka -


Gabi Greve said...

trying hard
not to loose my head -
spring on the graves


Anonymous said...

As always, Gabi...interesting stuff!


Unknown said...



Gabi Greve said...

inazuma ya ura no otoko no kuyoozuka

flash of lightning -
the memorial mound of a man
by the sea

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

- - -

kuyoozuka 供養塚 memorial mound
not only for humans but for other living beings

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Temple Hoozooji 宝蔵寺 Hozo-Ji

To quell the uprising of Taira no Masakado, a samurai 田原藤太郎秀郷 got a Fudo Statue from Takaosan Fudo Hall 高雄山神護寺不動堂 (in 939), carried it all the way to the Fudo Temple in Narita, Chiba and prayed for peace. In no time, his prayers came true and he went back to Utsunomiya to build this temple

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Kiso Kaido Nr. 26 Ashida

芦田宿 Postal Station Ashida

芦田 あらい丸 女月尼 Ashida - Araimaru and Nyogetsu-Ni
(woodblock by Kuniyoshi)

- quote
"Nyogetsuni is the Buddhist name of the former nun who becomes the sorceress Takiyasha (the name used by Kuniyoshi on the title page) in the 1806 novel The Loyalty of Utō Yasukata (Utō Yasukata chūgiden), written by Santō Kyōden and illustrated by Kuniyoshi's teacher, Toyokuni. The book was very popular and became the basis for a number of puppet plays and kabuki plays, as well as a later sequel by another author.


Gabi Greve said...

酒呑童子と坂田公時 Shuten Doji and Sakata no Kintoki
painting for a Nebuta float.
Ashigara 足柄 - Kintaro 金太郎 "The Golden Boy" Kintoki 金時
源頼光と坂田金時 Minamoto Yorimitsu and Sakata Kintoki

Gabi Greve said...

Sake 酒 rice wine for regional rituals

Gabi Greve said...

Mimizuka 耳塚 "Ear mound"

The monument enshrines the severed noses of at least 38,000 Koreans killed during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasions.

Hookooji, Hōkō-ji 方広寺 Hoko-Ji, Kyoto