Funa-Benkei 船弁慶

  After the victory of the war between the Heike, Yoshitsune stayed in Kyoto. Some Yoritomo's followers who envied Yoshitsune's success whispered to Yoritomo that Yoshitsune would betray him. Yoshitsune thought that it would be wise to leave Kyoto and to stay in the west for a while in order to have a cooling interval for showing his fidelity to Yoritomo.
  Yoshitsune and his party arrived at Daimotsu-no-ura (near Kobe) from which they planned to start voyage. Benkei, Yoshitsune's chief retainer, found that Shizuka, the lover of Yoshitsune, was in the party. He advised to Yoshitsune to let Shizuka to go back to Kyoto. Yoshitsune accepted the advice and asked Benkei to go Shizuka's place and to tell her to go back to Kyoto. Hearing this, Shizuka suspected that this was not the intention of Yoshitsune, but of Benkei. She insisted to meet Yoshitsune and would answer directly. Yoshitsune told that it was really his intention. Benkei asked Shizuka to play a farewell dance, and she dance praying Yoshitsune's luck.

  After the farewell dance, the party went aboard. It was a little stormy but Benkei insisted to start immediately. Shortly after they came off the shore, it became real storm. On the high waves, the ghosts of the Heike people appeared. The chief ghost said, "I am the ghost of Taira-no-Tomomori. We are waiting a chance to revenge you. Just as we died in the water, you shall die in the same manner." Yoshitsune was going to start a combat with the ghost with his sword, but Benkei interrupted, saying, "It must be impossible to defeat ghosts with the sword." He put Juzu (A small item for a Buddhism pray. The appearance resembles to rosary somehow.) in his hand and spoke Buddhism prayers. The ghosts gradually went off the boats and the boats finally reached the shore safely.

Copyright 2000 professor KS. All rights reserved. No reproduction or republication without written permission.