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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15 Responses to “Japanese Robin Hood”

  1. M September 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    One method of torturing in a Japanese jail is that they make people sit down for 8 hours a day. The guards watch to make sure you don’t lean against a wall. If they catch you, they scream and hollar and drag you to the center of the room. This is one f**ked up country.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 3, 2011 at 12:28 am #

      >One method of torturing in a Japanese jail is that they make people sit down for 8 hours a day.

      That’s not torture. Discipline or punishment, maybe…but not “torture”.

      >The guards…scream and hollar

      Do you think that’s torture? There are countries that torture people…but Japan isn’t one.

      >This is one f**ked up country.

      Do you live in Japan? If so, why do you stay if you’re unhappy?

      Like

  2. Anonymous September 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Japan has always been known to get off on torturing people especially non-Japanese. It’s not as bad as mid-evil times but still fairly close even to this day. You just don’t hear about it.

    Like

    • tokyo5 September 3, 2011 at 12:25 am #

      >Japan has always been known to get off on torturing people especially non-Japanese.

      I don’t think is known for that at all.

      >It’s not as bad as mid-evil times but still fairly close

      I suppose you meant “medieval”. And no one in Japan is torturing anyone.

      >You just don’t hear about it.

      So, then, how do you know about this supposed torturing?

      Like

  3. heri koesnadi March 29, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    wow… sutte..

    Like

  4. cuteandcurls March 29, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Such a gruesome way of punishing someone by boiling them alive. Just thinking about it frightens me ..i think i have heard of Jiroukichi or is it Ishikawa Goemon from one of the Japanese anime I watched called Hiwou War Chronicles, at the beginning of each episode the narrator tells about what was happening in Japan and famous people or inventors.
    Like Sir_Pent i wonder why there arent any movies made about these two famous ‘Robin Hoods’

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

      >Such a gruesome way of punishing someone

      Many countries had cruel means of punishment centuries ago. (Some still do today).

      Like

    • cuteandcurls March 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

      I agree but this one just imagining it frightens me … 😀 ive got a very vivid imagination of things hehe

      Like

      • tokyo5 March 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

        Being boiled alive would be terrible…and it was done in Medieval Europe and other parts of the world too.

        Medieval Europe also had devices like “The Rack”.

        Like

  5. Sir Pent March 29, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    I’m surprised there isn’t a movie about them.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

      There are kabuki plays about them.

      And in the Japanese anime “Lupin”, there’s a character of a thief named 「石川五エ門」 (“Ishikawa Goemon” (but spelled differently in Japanese characters from the real person’s name)).

      Like

    • Eric March 30, 2009 at 12:38 am #

      There are actually lots of movies about Goemon. The most famous is the “Shinobi no Mono” series. More info here: http://shinobinomono.oninohana.com/
      Great ninja movies.

      Like

      • tokyo5 March 30, 2009 at 2:11 am #

        Actually, I’m not surprised that there are movies…Ishikawa Goemon is famous (I know that there are kabuki plays about him, as I mentioned in my comment above.)

        There might be movies about Nezumi-kozou too.

        Like

      • tokyo5 April 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm #

        There’s a new Japanese movie about Goemon coming out in theaters here (Japan) on May 1, 2009.

        The movie’s title is, simply, “GOEMON“.

        The movie’s official website:
        http://www.goemonmovie.com/index.html

        Like

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