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Japanese Robin Hood

29 Mar

I’m sure you know the story of Robin Hood. The English thief who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Did you know that there are two “Japanese Robin Hoods“?

One of them was a 忍者 (ninja) who lived in the 16th century named 石川五右衛門 (Ishikawa Goemon).
Like Robin Hood, he stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
He’s most famous though for being executed by getting boiled alive in a large iron pot. Because of this, Japanese old-style iron baths over a flame are called 「五右衛門風呂」 (“Goemon Bath“).

The other “Japanese Robin Hood” lived in the 19th century. His name was 次郎吉 (Jiroukichi)…but he is most often known by his nickname: 「鼠小僧」 (“Nezumi-kozou“…or “Rat urchin“).
As with Ishikawa Goemon, he is sometimes called a “Japanese Robin Hood” because he stole gold from homes of wealthy (samurai) and gave to the poor.

He was apprehended by authorities twice. The first time he was given a penitentiary tattoo, and the second time he was decapitated.

His grave is in Tokyo…and it is popular with students taking school entrance exams because 鼠小僧 (“Nezumi-kozou“) was such a successful thief (he burglarized hundreds of samurai homes) and, like Robin Hood, he was extremely popular with common people that the students hope some of his good luck might be passed to them.

Visitors to the grave of 鼠小僧 (“Nezumi-kozou“) will often shave off a bit of the grave stone for luck.

「鼠小僧之墓」 "Nezumi-kozou's grave"

「鼠小僧之墓」 "Nezumi-kozou's grave"

The sign says you can shave this rock in front of Nezumi-kozou's grave (for luck).

The sign says you can shave this rock in front of Nezumi-kozou's grave (for luck).

Nezumi-kozou's gravestone (people used to shave it for luck...so  the other rock was added in front of this gravestone for shaving).

Nezumi-kozou's gravestone (people used to shave it for luck...so the other rock was added in front of this gravestone for shaving).

This cemetary also does pet funerals. This is a pet grave marker.

This cemetary also does pet funerals. This is a pet grave marker.

From there, we walked around the town. The grave of 鼠小僧 (“Nezumi-kozou“) is not far from the 国技館 (Sumo Arena).

桜&提灯 (Cherry Blossoms and paper lantern)

桜&提灯 (Cherry Blossoms and paper lantern)

「ライオン堂」...a store where Sumo wrestlers shop for their XXL clothing.

「ライオン堂」...a store where Sumo wrestlers shop for their XXL clothing.

A poster advertising a Sumo wrestler's upcoming retirement ceremony.

A poster advertising a Sumo wrestler's upcoming retirement ceremony.

We had a picnic lunch in a Japanese garden near the 国技館 (Sumo Arena):

The Sumo Arena is visible outside the Japanese garden.

The Sumo Arena is visible outside the Japanese garden.

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A スズメ (Sparrow) was sitting on the bench next to us.

A スズメ (Sparrow) was sitting on the bench next to us.

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