The pampas of ennui

Being Leonardo Boiko's online Journal, featuring Long & Very Sporadic Essays on any Subject.

Blacker’s “The Exiled Warrior and the Hidden Village”

09 November 2011

For my last Presidential Address I present you with an enigma, a puzzle in Japanese folklore for which so far no satisfactory solution has been found. The most that I can give is a clue or two.

The problem is this. All over Japan, with the exception of the northern island Hokkaidō, villages and communities have been discovered whose inhabitants claim to be descended from a fugitive warrior, fleeing for his life after the defeat of his family in a sea battle in the late 12th century. Most of these villages have been found in isolated and inaccessible spots; on islands, for example, or on the ends of capes, or tucked into inlets of the sea. But the majority lie deep in mountains, in valleys so remote that they appear to have been cut off from the world until their discovery sometime during the last couple of centuries.

The villages are known in general as Heike-dani, or ‘valleys of the Heike,’ after the surname of the vanquished clan.

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Carmen Blacker, The Exiled Warrior and the Hidden Village.

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