Tokyobling's Blog

Ubagaike – The Pond of the Old Woman

Posted in Places by tokyobling on August 19, 2014

Continuing on my series of obscure but interesting spots, here is Ubagaike – The Pond of the old Woman. In the old days this unremarkable park with its little pond was shallow marshland that grew smaller and smaller as the city of Edo (old Tokyo) grew around it. In 1891 the local government finally had the marsh filled in and the present day park was put in its place. The name of the pond comes from an old legend concerning a stone pillow housed at a nearby temple.

During the reign of Emperor Youmei (585-587 A.D.), in a place called Asajigahara, there was a small trail connecting Oshu and Shimofusa. It was the only trail in the area and along it there was only a single house, inhabited by an old woman and her beautiful daughter. Any traveler wishing to rest on his journey had to stop over at their house where the old lady would promptly bash his head in with a stone pillow and steal his clothes and belongings. The old lady would then dump the bodies in a nearby pond. Naturally her daughter was not happy with this and pleaded with the old lady to stop the killings but there was no persuading her. The body count reached 999 and the daughter was desperate to stop the killing. One day a young man came to stay over and the old lady, as was her habit, took the stone pillow and promptly split his skull open. Upon closer inspection though, the old lady found that she had killed her own daughter who had gone in disguise, hoping that this final sacrifice would persuade the old lady to stop the killings. As the old lady was going mad from the realization of her deeds she took her daughter’s corpse and threw herself and the corpse together into the pond. Since that day, the pond has been knows as Ubagaike, the Pond of the old Lady (old hag might be a better translation).

The park and the pond isn’t much to see anymore, but the legend is interesting enough. It is a short walk from the north of Sensoji Temple in the famous Asakusa District. The final picture is from a series of legends illustrated by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861 A.D.) showing the Goddess of Compassion visiting the house of the old lady as she is arguing with her daughter.

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4 Responses

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  1. Timi said, on August 30, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    That’s one horror story for a pond 😮 well surely make the whole sight worthy to see, even if it’s not the most interesting place in itself.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on September 2, 2014 at 5:49 am

      Absolutely. There are quite a few horror stories attached to places here in Tokyo, but the locals go to extreme lengths to hide them up! (^-^;)

      Like

  2. Michael said, on October 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    I wonder if you were familiar with this list of notable ‘waters’ : http://www.mizuhiroba.jp/en/meisui/hyakusenlist.html Interesting list of little places.

    Like


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