Hashi-Benkei 橋弁慶

  A Buddhist monk, Benkei, had a special wish and wanted to have a midnight prayer at Kitano. The fellow monk advised that he'd better not go, since a young boy, about 12 or 13 in age, appeared on a GOJO Bridge (GOJO-Hashi) night by night and kill by-passers. "Last night, I saw him run and jump on the bridge. It seems that he were a butterfly or a bird." However, since Benkei is very proud of his skill in handling a halberd, he went to the bridge to arrest the youth.
  On the GOJO-Bridge, a young guy, Ushiwaka (later grows up to be Minanoto-no- Yoshitsune) was waiting by-passers in a girl's costume. Benkei felt strange that a girl alone stood on the midnight bridge, but since Buddhist faith forbids that a monk has a contact with a girl, he continued to go on his way without saying anything to the girl. All of a sudden, she kicked Benkei, and Benkei found that what he thought to be a girl was really a boy. They started a combat. Benkei first believed that to catch a young boy would be an easy task, but soon he understood it was not. They continued the combat quite a time, and, finally, Benkei lost. Benkei asked the young guy, "Who are you?" The young guy answered, "I am Minamoto-no-Ushiwaka." "Then, are you a son of Minamotono-no-Yoshiie, the previous leader of the Minamoto clan?" "Yes, and who are you?" " I am Benkei, a monk. Please make me your retainer" And, thus, started a life-long relation between this tragic hero and a faithful retainer.

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