Published: June 14th 2008June 14th 2008
Okinawan Folktales - Kijimuna
----taken from http://www.chicagookinawakenjinkai.com/Folklore%20Pages/Kijimuna.html
Okinawan Tree Spirit
Other names: Bungaya
On the island of Okinawa grow large banyans called gajumaru, no doubt special trees because they are said to be inhabited by the kijimuna — mischievous, fairy-like spirits that are easily the best known creatures in Okinawan folklore.
They are about the size and shape of a little boy, and like so many Asian folk-creatures, they have red hair, which may or may not cover their bodies.
Also like many other yokai, the kijimuna are associated with mysterious fires. Sometimes they are seen wandering along beaches and riverbanks accompanied by ghostly flames, and sometimes they try to steal fire from paper lanterns and run off.
While they are tree spirits, the kijimuna are adept fishermen, although they are such absent-minded little creatures they will often eat only one of a fish's eyes before forgetting about the rest of it. Although fond of pranks, they are innocent and friendly and often befriend human beings, helping them with their fishing and sometimes making them rich. These relationships turn bitter easily, though, and often end with the human driving the kijimuna away with the
Statues like this are seen all over Okinawa. This one holds a sweet potatoe.
one thing it absolutely cannot stand - the humble octopus.
HERE ARE SOME DETAILS AND STORIES ABOUT KIJIMUNA:
The tales of Kijimuna are an important part of Okinawan culture. For hundreds of years, Okinawan parents and grandparents have told their children stories about Kijimuna.
Kijimuna live in and around the villages of Okinawa. The people of these villages sometimes call the Kijimuna Bunagaya, which means a living thing with a large head. Kijimuna's usually live in big old trees, especially Banyan trees. People in Ogimi and Kunigami village, in Okinawa, believe that Kijimuna are fairies.
Kijimuna are short, like little children of three or four years of age. They have long red or brown hair that covers all of their body. Kijimuna come down from the trees in the evening, and sometimes attack people. They then cover the person with their body. Mosrt frequently it happens to women who are attacked by male kijimuna. It is rare for a man to be covered by a female Kijimuna. A person who is attacked by a Kijimuna is unable to move or breath.
Kijimuna are good fishermen. If a person becomes Kijimuna's friend, it will takes that person on it's back and fly over the mountains and the sea. Kijimuna hates it when humans break wind and if a person breaks wind on Kijimuna's back, they are usually thrown off a mountain or into the sea. 'Kijimuna' and the boy of a poor Family
Once upon a time, there were two boys in Shimbura. One was of a rich family and the other was of a poor family. They were good friends. But the poor boy envied the rich boy and sometimes had humiliating experiences. The poor boy became annoyed by his friend visiting, so he ran away and hid in the mountains. Then one day in midsummer, when the boy was sleeping under a tree in the mountains, someone woke him up. He knew at a glance it was a Kijimuna. His parents had often talked to him about Kijimuna but still he could not believe his own eyes. He never dreamed he would ever see a Kijimuna. Then just to be sure he pinched himself on the arm. It was true it really was a Kijimuna. The boy was not afraid, as he knew Kijimuna did not normally bully humans.
The boy greeted Kijimuna by saying,'Haisai'. Kijimuna also said 'Haisai' and asked. "Why are you here?" The boy replied, "Because we are very poor and there is nothing to eat. And what's more, a boy of a very rich family lives next door. He and I used to be very good friends. But I won't play with him any more, because our circumstances are different. So I came here." answered the boy. "I see." said Kijimuna. "Won't you be my friend then? I'll make you very rich." "Really? thank you! thank you very much!" The boy then jumped with joy. "But you must be my friend forever if we are to become friends. If you dissapoint me, you'll be poor again, do you understand?" "Oh yes, of course, I won't ever dissapoint you." the boy said. With that the Kijimuna said "Well then, I'll see you tomorrow evening." Then he left.
The next evening Kijimuna came to meet the boy as promised. They greeted each other, and grabbed their fishing tackle to go to Usukumi beach. When they reached the beach, Kijimuna said to the boy, "You wait here, I'll catch some fish for you." Kijimuna caught lots of fish. He took the out the eyes of the fish, and gave what was left to his new friend. Kijimuna said, "Here you go all these fish are yours. You'd better go and sell them if you want to be rich. then with a swift Good-bye. Kijimuna was gone.
As the boy had lots of fish, he decided to go around to every house and sell them. He walked aroundand called out "Yu-kon-sori."
The next day Kijimuna came back to meet the boy and once again they went fishing. The boy wound up with lots of fish again and once again sold them to the people of the village. The boy was able to save a lot of money and he soon became richer than the rich boy who lived next door.
Then one day the boy said to himself, "I won't go with Kijimuna tonight. I already have a lot of money and I'm tired of going to the sea so much. Kijimuna surely will be okay by himself." He decided to visited his old friend the boy next door. That evening Kijimuna came to meet the boy as usual but the boy was not there. Kijimuna called and called for the boy. But the boy didn't appear Kijimuna knew what happened because he had been deceived many times by humans. Kijimuna said, "I know the boy has broken his promise."
The boy was having great fun and played with his next door neighbor for a very long time. Then afterwards he thought to himself "I had a great time even though I've done Kijimuna wrong." Everything will be okay Though." But when the boy awoke, all of his money was gone as well as everything he had bought with the money. And the boy never saw Kijimuna again. Kijimuna and Children's Blotchy Faces
In old times, when children in Okinawa had blotchy faces, their grandmothers would tell them "Oh! Kijimuna gave them to you." On that evening, the grandmother would prepare delicious food and make a pair of straw slippers. They would put the food and slippers on the gate of the house and pray "Please cure our children." Then they wash the slippers and rub the children's blotchy faces with them and the children were cured. ----- Story by Haru Shimabukuro Kijimuna and the Boat of Kyoda
Once upon a time, a Kijumuna made his house in the leaves of a giant Adan tree. Every night at the same time he would visit his friend the fisherman in Kyoda, and they would go fishing. When they caught fish the Kijimuna liked to eat the eyes. Of course, He would then give the rest of the fish to his friend. But one day the fisherman became bored and didn't want to fish with Kijimuna any more. The fisherman decided he would go to the beach and burn the tree of Adan where Kijimuna lived. When the Kijimuna relized that his friend had burned his home he ran away to the Onna mountains. Ever since then when the Kijimuna see a boat from Kyoda they turn it over in the sea. ------By Kana Kishimoto Kijimuna and a Daughter's Spirit
Okinawan people say that Kijimuna don't like octopus and that when Kijimuna catches a fish, he will only eat the eyes before giving the rest of the fish to his friend. One day, Kijimuna said to his friend. "Let's go fishing." and they went to the sea and caught many fish. On the way home, the man was tired so they stopped to rest in front of a rich man's house. The Kijimuna said, "You rest and I will visit this rich man" and he went inside. When he came out the man asked "What did you do in there?" Kijimuna replied, "The rich man's daughter is very sick. So sick she is going to die in fact. I took her spirit and put it in this bag so she will die the day after tomorrow."
When they walked away though the Kijimuna forgot to take the bag with him. The next day his friend found it and took it back to the house of the rich man. He said to the rich man, "I can make our daughter well again." The rich man said, "If you can make her well, I will let you marry her. If she gets well, I won't be able to thank you enough." He replied, "OK then, I will try my best." He gave the spirit back to the rich man's daughter. The next day, she became very well. They got married and lived happily ever after.-----By Chozen Miyagi