Toriyama Senkien's depiction of the Dodomeki

Toriyama Senkien’s depiction of the Dodomeki

Dodomeki–The bird lady monster from Japan! Sorta like the bird lady in Mary Poppins… okay, maybe not.

Dodomeki (百々目鬼) is a Japanese yōkai that’s depicted as human women who are cursed with having long arms covered with hundreds of bird eyes due to their habit of stealing money. Dodomekis were first described by the 18th century Japanese scholar Toriyama Sekien. The long arms of a dodomeki reflects the Japanese belief that a person with long arms has a tendency to steal. The bird eyes that grows on the dodomeki’s arm are a reference to the Japanese dōsen, a copper coin with a hole in the middle of it that’s commonly known as the chōmoku( Birds eye).

Conflict with Fujiwara no Hidesato

During the Heian period, a kuge (court bureaucrat) named Fujiwara no Hidesato had just defeated the rebel Taira no Masakado and been promoted as the kokushi of the Shimotsuke province for his victory. One day while hunting in his newly acquired territory, Hidesato encountered an old man who warned him about a yōkai who had been terrorizing a nearby horse graveyard at night. Hidesato went to the horse graveyard to investigate and waited until sundown for the yōkai to appear. Once the yŏkai arrived, it revealed itself to be a dodomeki that stood over ten foot tall and had arms covered with hundreds of glowing eyes. Hidesato drew his bow and shot an arrow at the brightest glowing eye, causing the dodomeki to flee and collapse near Mount Myōjin. When Hidesato later pursued the yōkai, the dodomeki emitted a burst of flame from its body and a fume of poisonous gas from its mouth. Outmatched, Hidesato fled from the scene and returned the next day to find the ground heavily burnt, but no sign of the dodomeki.

Meeting Priest Chitoku

Nearly 400 years later during the Muromachi period, a priest named Chitoku was called to investigate a series of unexplained fires that broke out at the temple in a village near Mount Myōjin. He started to notice a woman covered with a robe nearby the temple whenever he held his sermons and discovered that she is the same dodomeki that Hidesato fought 400 years earlier. She had come back to suck up her remaining toxic fumes and blood that she lost during her last battle with Hidesato. The temple was built on top of the battle sight, so the dodomeki caused a series of fires to scare all the priests away. However, after consistently overhearing Chitoku preaching whenever she walked by the temple, the dodomeki becomes enlightened and vows to never commit any more evil deeds for the rest of her life.

You have to admit that having a Dodomeki in that Disney classic, Mary Poppins, sure would have made for a surprise twist at the end, no?

Read more on Wikipedia.