4/14/2017

onigokko onibarai

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onigokko, oni-gokko 鬼ごっこ game of tag
onigoto 鬼ごと


Tag is a playground game that involves two or more players chasing other players in an attempt to "tag" or touch them, usually with their hands.
This game was already popular in the Edo period, in a version called :
ko o toro ko toro 子をとろ子とろ / 子を捕ろ子捕ろ "get hold of a child, get it!"


守貞漫稿 Morisada Manko

One player is the Oni, one is the parent and all the others are children. The children try to hide behind the parent. The Oni tries to grab the last child in line. The parent spreads out his arms and tries to ward off the Oni.
As they run, the row of children begins to sway like a serpent or a whirlpool.


source : Waseda University Library

幼童遊び子をとろ子とろ osana asobi ko o toro ko toro
歌川広重 Utagawa Hiroshige

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This game has a long history, all the way to Hell,
where 地蔵菩薩 Jizo Bosatsu is trying to lead the poor souls out of hell, past the Oni guardian.



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During the Heian period, there was a ritual at the court called
onibarai no gishiki 鬼払いの儀式 "driving out the demons"
oniyarai 鬼遣らい

which is seen as the beginning of Onigokko.
This ritual was performed as a prayer for 五穀豊穣 gokoku hojo, the fertility of the five grains and thus a good harvest.

There was also a chasing game called
hifukume ひふくめ - ヒ+フ+クメ : One Two and Three
久米(来目)とは「三(みつ).hi fu kume

- quote -
In the beginning of the Heian period, Hososhi who appears and runs around at new year eve’s court function “Oni-yarai” in the greater palace is considered the origin of any stories about “Oni”, which stands for a devil. His manner reminds us of the familiar “Onigokko” that the “Oni” chases children, while “Oni” is emphasized with objection, it is overlapped as one of the old “Onigokko” named “Kakure-Oni” (Hidden Oni).

By contrast, in the Edo period, there was “Hifukume” who appears in Kottoshu, Santokyo-den (an old literature).

In the middle of Heian period, when a Buddhist monk called Eshin Sozu Genshin preaches people, he used a format that Jizo Bosatsu protects against “Oni” who chases children.
Whether or no, these three elements of “Parent”, “Children”, “Oni” hold an important fact in the game, and it is easy to imagine that the game was spread around for the children naturally.

And now, “Hifukume” comes down to “Kotoro kotoro” more than it was expected.


Here is a picture of a swallow playing “Kotorokotoro”, drawn by Hiroshige Ando, from late Edo period when Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) established one culture. It is a surprising fact that Ukiyoe artist Hiroshige drew it, but fresh looking swallow’s faces are attractive.

There is almost no children who know about “Kotorokotoro” as a game nowadays. I have a sense of crisis about the situation that “Onigokko” which came down from the Heian period and in which parents protect children, or “Onigokko” that is a tool to know community and the way of contacting people to people is disappearing even though it is a most well-known one.


- Internatinal Onigokko Association - Onigotter Japan -
- reference source : onigokko.or.jp - 鬼ごっこ協会公式へようこそ

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. Genshin 源信 Eshin Soozu 恵心僧都 Eshin Sozu (942-1017).

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source : ameblo.jp/onigokko-kyoukai/entry


. Japanese Legends - 伝説 民話 昔話 – ABC-List .

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千葉県 Chiba

During the Setsubun ritual of Onibabari 鬼払い driving out the demons,
there are three Oni, ao-oni 青鬼 Blue Demon, aka-oni 赤鬼 Red Demon and kuro-oni 黒鬼 Black demon.
People who take over the part of these three Oni will not experience and evil or bad influence, will not be called to the military and will not be the target of shooting. So there are many young men who want to become Oni during the Setsubun rituals.




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新潟県 Niigata  笹神村 Sasakamimura  

Once upon a time
the girls were playing tag. One of the girls felt a strange pain in her shin and when she looked, the flesh had split and she was almost bleeding. She tried to be brave and walked all the way to the bridge. At the bridge blood was suddenly flowinig out of her leg.
It must have been a kamaitachi かまいたち "sickle weasel".

. kamaitachi 鎌鼬 cut of the skin by a cold sucking wind .
- kigo for winter
and also a strange Yokai monster.


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- reference : nichibun yokai database 妖怪データベース -
- reference - 鬼ごっこ -

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