A tale of butts and death.

Japan has a long and rich history full of events and legends that amaze and inspire. But with so much history sometimes stories fall through the cracks. Speaking of which, the tale of the Great White Butt has once again surfaced on the Internet, so perhaps it would be a good time to revisit this sordid tale.

The year was 1658. It was the first year of the brief Manji era (1658-1661) in the early Edo period (1603-1867), and a lone samurai was walking home across a bridge in the town of Toyoma in what is now known as Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. As he did so, he heard strange noises. Suddenly, an ass as pale and large as the Moon which hung overhead appeared from under the bridge. Thinking it was a yokai, the samurai swiftly slashed at the butt with his sword, slaying the monster.

▼ The incident likely occurred in the vicinity of Teraike Castle

The samurai was actually quite surprised that a monster would go down so easily. When he inspected it more closely it turned out that it was just some guy and not a supernatural creature after all. The samurai brought the body back to his father, Yokoyama Geki, who was a hitomochi-gumi rank — second-highest rank excluding Daimyo lords — samurai in the Kaga Domain.

They then took the body to the castle where it was examined and identified as a subordinate of a nobleman named Kishinami Tarozaemon. It turned out that this particular servant was a known pervert who got off on pretending to be a yokai and scaring people by showing them his naked butt.


Nevertheless, the fact was that this samurai had killed a nobleman’s servant. There was a lot of debate about how to rectify the situation and they sent word of the incident to the Date Clan in Sendai for a final judgment. They never got a reply though, and ultimately decided that the samurai who killed the servant should commit seppuku.

It was an awkward incident, to say the least, and became known as the Great White Butt (Ote No Shiro Ketsu), where the “Great” is believed to refer to the “great” or “main” gate of the castle where the incident occurred – not because the butt itself was especially great.

According to some accounts, the Great White Butt was the name of the ghost of the killed pervert that continued to haunt the bridge, but as far as most were concerned, the person was just a wannabe yokai and didn’t go down in history like many other yokai had.

▼ There aren’t any depictions of the Great White Butt from that time, but living Miyagi-based artist Orochido really nailed it. Wall scrolls of his work can also be bought online.

In fact, this story was largely forgotten for centuries and it wasn’t until the blog Miyagi Yokai Encyclopedia found it in 2019 that the Great White Butt began to get attention. In addition to going viral online, it was also included in the popular book series Disappointing Yokai Encyclopedia (translated as Strange Japanese Yokai in English).

▼ Yokai don’t really get much more disappointing.

And when it does pop up again from time to time, it always sparks the curiosity of people who think about the differences between 400 years ago and now.

“He’s the original asshole.”
“He was a yokai at heart, at least.”
“Maybe he was possessed by a yokai.”
“Interesting how we know the names of the bosses but not the actual people involved.”
“I feel like if he were alive in that time, that sushi-licking kid would have been a yokai.”
“Now, perverts just have to worry about getting arrested, but back then they were getting killed.”
“Probably half of the yokai we know of are traced back to guys like this.”
“Is this where Crayon Shinchan came from?”
“It’s a story too embarrassing to have been passed down through generations.”

We should point out that the Miyagi Yokai Encyclopedia learned about the Great White Butt from a collection of regional historical records called Toyoma Machishi (Toyama Town Magazine) that was put together in the 1990s. So, let this be a lesson to support your own local historical society, or who knows what kinds of weird stories like the Great White Butt might become lost forever without their hard work.

Source: Miyagi Yokai Encyclopedia, Pixiv, Minne, My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso (Edited by SoraNews24)
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