伊豆昔話 婆娑羅山(ばさらやま) Mt. Basara

Once upon a time, a man named Masakichi, with his old mother and 10-year-old son, lived at the foot of Mt. Basara on the Izu Peninsula, working in their small field and earning a scant living. Masakichi’s wife had passed away when their son was born. Since then, Masakichi had been sad and lonely. Still, Masakichi sometimes had happy moments between his sad and lonely days.

When seeing his cheerful son running in the field made Masakichi smile, when petals of cherry blossoms danced beautifully in the spring breeze, and when he shared and ate a piece of rice cake with his mother and son under the full moon in an equinoctial week, Masakichi felt that his life had some good and beautiful moments.

On that day though, Masakichi was in the depths of despair. Hopelessly, he was wearing sandals in front of his hut. Inside, his hunchbacked mother was praying quietly to the household Shinto altar in front of the hearth. Masakichi murmured to himself, “I have to bring my mother to Mt. Basara. Our life like this is now over. Because of the drought that has continued for many weeks, the plants in the field have all died. We have nothing to eat. So, I have to take my mother to…”

His old mother asked Masakichi to take her to Mt. Basara and leave her there.

昔話 婆娑羅2

People in the village, when their parents became old and unable to work, had to take them to Mt. Basara, where they left them in a large cave on the mountainside. Old people ended their lives there, starving to death or being eaten by beasts.

そのころの祖父は物忘れがひどくなる一方で、一日中何もせず糞尿を垂れ流すばかりでした。しかし、婆娑羅山に捨てに行かれることに感づくと途端に「いやじゃ! いやじゃ!」とわめきだし、土間の柱に必死にしがみついたのです。祖父は、大きな籠にむりやり押し込められて父に背負われ、連れていかれました。
When he was around the same age as his son today, Masakichi witnessed his grandfather being taken to the mountain. He was suffering from dementia, did nothing every day and was even incontinent. His grandfather, however, suddenly started shouting, “No! No!” when he found out that he was being taken to Mt. Basara. His grandfather was desperately clutching a pillar near the entrance when Masakichi’s father forcibly pushed him into a big basket, put the basket on his shoulder and went away.

As soon as he returned from Mt. Basara alone, Masakichi’s father went to the well to wash his hands. Masakichi, wondering what his father was doing, peeked and found that his father’s arms were stained with blood. Masakichi was too afraid to ask his father what he did to his grandfather.

Masakichi’s father passed away in the summer when Masakichi was 14 years old. In a heavy storm, his father went to the field to see if the plants were all right and was killed by a landslide.

Later, Masakichi understood that it was his grandfather’s blood badly staining his father’s arms. Perhaps, his grandfather resisted violently on the way to the cave, and his father beat him to death with a rock to make him quiet.

Masakichi’s mother finished praying, moved away from the altar, turned around, saw Masakichi with a gentle look on her face and said: “Masakichi, shall we go now?” Masakichi could not see his mother’s face. He just nodded.

The basket for carrying his mother was made of thick bamboo and was strong. This was the same basket that Masakichi’s father had carried his own father in. Masakichi tied the basket to a wooden frame and let his mother climb into the basket. Masakichi lifted the basket on his shoulder, and discovered that his mother had become very light.




「行く! だって、大好きなばぁちゃんとの最後のお別れだもの!」

His mother had eaten so little, so that Masakichi and his son could eat more, and had become as lean as a rake. When Masakichi was sadly looking at his mother’s lean back, Masakichi’s son, who had not said anything since the morning, ran up to Masakichi and his grandmother and said, “Father, I want to go to Mt. Basara with you!” Masakichi replied, “No. The mountain is too steep for you.” His son insisted, saying, “I must go! I must go because this is the final farewell to my dear grandma!” Masakichi, finally, had to allow his son to come with them.

昔話 婆娑羅3


「父ちゃん、人がいる! あの人、頭を揺らしてるよ!」

Despite the drought continuing for many weeks, the mountain path was muddy in some places. Masakichi’s son fell down many times and mud was all over his face. He still kept walking, trying hard to keep pace with Masakichi. After walking in the dense forest for several hours, they came to a place where the path was rocky with rocks the size of fists. The son said, “Father, I see someone there! His head is wobbling!”

Masakichi looked where his son pointed, and saw an old man sitting in front of a large rock with his head bending down. The son said, “The man is crying.” The old man was shedding white tears from his eyes. Masakichi put the basket down, and approached the old man. As Masakichi was about to talk to the old man, he was surprised and shocked to see that the tears dropping from the old man’s eyes were actually white maggots. A massive number of maggots were crawling on the old man’s head that was bending forward. The maggots caused the old man’s head to wobble. “Ugh!” Masakichi uttered.

Behind the old man, Masakichi saw a large mouth of a cave. This was the graveyard for the old people left there to die. To Masakichi who was shocked and filled with horror, his mother said, “Masakichi, will you please put me there?” The mother’s eyes showed her dignity and strength.

昔話 婆娑羅4

On their way home after parting from his mother, Masakichi was recalling the feeling of her hand that he had held just before parting. Her hand was wrinkled, yet soft, gentle and warm.

Masakichi was also recalling the feeling of his mother’s hand that kindly fondled Masakichi’s swollen cheek when he was a child and returned home after having a fight with another boy in the village. On that day, Masakichi said to his mother, “I lost the fight because I am weak and powerless.” His mother said to Masakichi, “No one wins or loses a fight, Masakichi. You truly lose a fight when you think you lost it. No one else decides whether you win or lose. Your own feeble mind decides it. You must believe in your own power and be strong.”

「いずれ、おらがまた歳を取った父ちゃんをあの籠に乗せて、運んでいかなきゃなんねぇんでしょ? それで、おらも、ずうっと先、歳を取ったら……」
While Masakichi was recalling his mother’s words, his son tugged on Masakichi’s sleeve and asked, “Was it all right that we left the basket in the cave?” They had left the basket, leaving some clothes in it and hoping that she would not feel cold. The son said, “When you get old, I’ll have to carry you in the basket, won’t I? Then, when I get old…” The son’s words terrified Masakichi. Suddenly, tears filled Masakichi’s eyes, and kept falling. “Father, are you…?”

Masakichi thought, “It is not too late. We can still turn back.” Masakichi looked at his son’s face and strained his voice, “We are going back to the cave.”

“Yes.” The son replied in tears.

Masakichi made up his mind. He thought, “I will return to the cave and bring my mother home. I cannot leave my mother in a place like that. No matter what other people do or think, I will destroy this terrible custom. I will not be beaten by poverty or my own feeble mind!” Then, Masakichi gave himself power by making tight fists and took a strong step forward.


松崎町松崎町 Matsuzaki Town

婆娑羅山周辺の紹介 Around Mt. Basara


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