This is one of the stories from the old Buddhist
manuscript, Konjaku Monogatari,
written in the 12th. century.
There was a lovely maiden by the name of
Kiku Akaiwa who lived in Yamada, a small
village in Sanuki.
She was a cheerful, good-natured girl, always
working for the village's festivals and celebrations
and well-liked by all the people.
One day Kiku suddenly felt seriously ill.
She had a severe pain in her chest, followed
by a high fever which made it difficult for
her to breathe. The physician had given up
all hope, telling her parents that she might
not be able to survive for long.
Kiku told her mother that she had a dream
in which she saw two devils, Aka-oni andAo-oni coming to take her away.
"Mother, I don't want to die! I saw
The Great King of The Dark, Enma, ordering
two devils to take me away.
They are coming soon. Please make offerings
of the best food and drinks to the devils
at the gate of our house.
They might be delighted and let me stay."
Her mother who knew that it was her daughter's
last wish, did as Kiku told her.
She prepared all kind of delicacies and served
them with bottles of sake that she arranged at the gate.
The red and blue devils, Aka-oni and Ao-oni, soon appeared wearing tiger skin, carrying
iron spiked rods in their hands. They came
straight to the house:
"Akaoni,this is Kiku's house, isn't it?"
"Yeah, let's take her away, look, she's
" Wait a minute, don't you smell something
Akaoni went hurrying to the gate and was
very delighted to see all the tasty food
and sake there.
"Hey, what a treat! Sake! And all those delicasies! "
They both crouched down and grabbing the
food with their rough hands, they ate and
drank to the full.
"Well, let's get our work done"
Akaoni at last said, heading to Kiku's bedroom
through the window.
They approached the sleeping Kiku and started
to separate her soul ."By the command
of The Great King Enma,
we came to fetch you and take you to His
Kingdom. Now, get up and follow us."
Kiku answered in a frail voice: "I've
been sick for a long time, and I'm getting
very weak. Please let me walk slowly, I can't
walk as fast as you do."
The two devils saw that Kiku was very thin
and weak, they supported her and helped her
to get up.
Kiku was trembling all over, she looked
so pale and helpless that even the two devils
felt sorry for her.
After thinking for a while, Ao-oni came up with a bright idea:
" Do you know of anybody with the same
name in town? We can take her away instead
of you." he said to Kiku, letting her
rest for a while. "We want to thank
you for the nice food."
Kiku answered:" Yes, there is a woman
with the same name , she lives in the town
of Utari, on the outskirts of this village."
The devils asked Kiku to take them there.
They walked through the small sreets lined
with pine trees, crossed a few bridges, and
arrived at a grocery store.
A widow with two children, by the same name,
'Kiku' owned the shop. She was a shy, hard-working
woman popular with the people in Utari.
The devils looked into the store and saw
her walking around arranging the goods on
They nodded at each other, grabbed their
steel rods and started to attack, hitting
hard on her head.
The poor woman fell to the ground, and the
devils took her soul away with them.
"Come on, let's hurry on to the King
of The Dark, Enma". they said, pushing
her soul on and on till they arrived before
the throne of Enma.
The King fixed his sharp look on the poor
woman, then turned to the two devils and
"This is not the person I wanted! I
ordered you to bring the girl Kiku from the
village of Yamada.
This is Kiku from the town of Utari. Now hurry back and
bring the right soul here, you fool!"
The two devils realized that they couldn't
easily deceive the Great Enma. Ashamed and
frightened, they turned away at once, and
in an instant dashed back to the village
of Yamada, leaving the poor soul of the wrong
Kiku right there in front of Enma.
Soon the devils came back with the right
Kiku, and Emma was pleased to see her: "Yes,
yes, she is the one I wanted. From the time
she was born, it was written in the Book
of Death that she should die at the age of
eighteen. Now, take the wrong Kiku back."
So it was that Kiku came back to the town where she lived, Utari.
Three days had passed since she was supposed
to be dead, her body had already been cremated.
soul of Kiku had nowhere to go. Crying, she went back
to see Enma in Hell:
"Great Enma, thank you for sending me
home, but my body is already cremated. How
can I get back
Enma was quite perplexed. He stroke his black
long beard with his rough hands, and after
a while, he
called his servants, Aka-oni and Ao-oni, and asked them:
"Is the body of Kiku from the village
of Yamada still kept in her house?"
The devils answered: "Yes. Master, the
cremation will be held tomorrow morning."
Enma turned to the helpless Kiku: "Good! You can use her body to get
back to life."
Then Enma ordered the devils: "Aka-oni, Ao-oni, take her to the village of Yamada and show
her where the body is. Help her get into
Kiku thanked Enma for saving her life, and escorted
by Aka-oni and Ao-oni she hurried to the house of Kiku of