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Togakushi is a magically beautiful place full of magical stories. It is in Nagano prefecture, around the middle part of Honshu, Japan's largest island.

One of these stories is about a horned woman that once lived here.

Her name was Momiji. She was born during the Heian Period, sometime around the 10th century, and grew up to be a stunning beauty. She lived in the capital, became consort to a prince and plotted the removal of of the prince's first wife. Her plan failed. When sent away from the capital, she came to live in Togakushi, and spent the rest of her life boiling with jealousy and anger. The negative emotions eventually turned her into a monster with horns. Some tales connect her to a powerful Chinese fox monster, who was the consort of an Emperor of the Shang Dynasty and is said to have contributed the fall of the empire.

I don't know if she is still there. I hear these creatures live very long, so she might be. After all, the Shang Dynasty was around 11th century B.C., and Momiji is a character from the 10th century, A.D.

She seemed to be not around when I visited.


© 2006 Mieko Mochizuki Swartz. All rights reserved.