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Hitachibō Kaison

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Hitachibou Kaison

Hitachibō Kaison (常陸坊海尊, Hitachibō Kaison, birth and death date unknown) was a legendary sōhei from Genpei Jōsuiki, Gikeiki and Heike monogatari. He was a monk in Onjōji temple or Mount Hiei.


After becoming a retainer of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Kaison accompanied the flee of Yoshitsune and his retainers (including Musashibo Benkei) from Kyoto. During the battle of Koromo-gawa against the army of Fujiwara no Yasuhira in Hiraizumi in Oshu (north Honshu), where Yoshitsune died, Kaison lived, because at the time he and other retainers visited a temple in the mountains.

There exists a legend claiming, that Kaison achieved immortality (and was told to live 400 years despite the birth and death dates not being stated), and told people about the Genpei War and Minamoto no Yoshitsune so vividly, as if he saw them on his own.

Razan Hayashi wrote in his book Honcho Jinja Ko (a study of Japanese shrines), that during the early Edo period and old man called Zanmu told tales of Genpei War and was believed to be Kaison by many people.

Hirono, Iwate has an old stone monument said to be a grave of Kaison.

Kaison and Minamoto no Yoshitsune's "orphans"[edit]

There's a temple Henshoji in Mooka, Tochigi. According to an old temple magazine and tradition, Hitachibō Kaison entrusted a monk Hitachi Nyūdō Nensai[1] with a child of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Keiwaka, as demanded by Hidehira Fujiwara.

Furthermore, according to the tradition of Enmyō-ji temple in Hirosaki, Aomori, Chitose Maru, also known as Keiwakamaru was a child of Yoshitsune Minamoto, entrusted to Date Tomomune by Kaison. After the adoption Kaison disappeared.[2]


  1. 真岡市史案内第4号中村城 真岡市教育委員会発行 栃木県立図書館蔵書
  2. 批評社 (2016), 源義経周辺系図解説, p. 42

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