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Tuesday, May 21, 2013



Toads feature widley in Japanese folklore, Gamma was a giant toad that lived under old houses. It ate people and also drained energy from them by extending it’s long tounge into the house to lap up life essence.

Gama was also the name of a sennin, a Taoist mystic who had a three legged, white toad as a companion.


The best known toad story in Japan concerns a magician who transformed himself into a giant toad. His name was Yashagoro and he had once been the follower of a man name Jiraiya, or `Young Thunder', who was the scion of a powerful clan from Kyushu. When the family fell on hard times Jiraiya  went to Niigata Prefecture, became a freebooter and rose to the position of chief of a chivalrous band of robbers. He was initiated into toad magic by an immortal who resided on Mount Fuji .

Jiraiya fell in love and married Tsunade, a beautiful young woman who was skilled in snail magic.Yashagoro was overcome by the spell of a serpent and became skilled in serpent magic. He transformed into the monster snake Orochimaru and attacked Jiraiya. Together with his wife, Jiraiya did battle with this magick serpent in the form of a giant toad and a giant snail but they were infected with the serpent's venom and fell unconscious. Fortunately another of Jiraiya's followers, whose life he had once saved, came to their rescue. The 1921 film above is based on the story.
Another  famous story of a spectral toad comes from a tale retold by Laficadido Hearn in his book ‘Kotto:Being Japanmese Curios, with Sundry Cobwebs. In the story Chkgoro, a hansome young soldier is enticed into a nocturnal affair with a mysterious but beutifull woman. Each night she would take him to her palice beneath a lake. Despite being underwater the palice was warm and dry.
But his nights of love weakened him so his fellow soldiers summoned A doctor from China. The doctor determined that the woman was a giant shapshifting frog who had been drinking Chkgoro’s blood whilst he was under her spell. It was too late to save the victim who had most of his blood replaced with rancid lake water.

Gama was also the name of a sennin, a Taoist mystic who had a three legged, white toad as a companion.
Apart from the 1921 film, phantom or magikal toads have turned up again in Japanese cinema.

1966 saw the release of a film based loosly on an old Japanese legend. Kairyū Daikessen (released as The Magic Serpent) took it’s basic story from The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya werein Jairaiya of the title is initiated into toad magic by a wizard and battles Yashagoro an evil magician who transforms himself into a giant snake. The film deviates from the origional legend somewhat.
The former student of a kindly old wizard (who specialized in toad magic) returns to his former mentor. Now the student is an evil snake magitian  takes over his peaceful village. At the same time, a young woman is terrorized by this evil socerer who is later revealed to be her father. All this leads to a climatic battle between the old wizard's new student and the evil student in the guises of a giant frog and giant dragon, respectively.
In Kyoufu Gakuen (Yamaguchi Makoto 2001), the English translation being ‘Frightfull School Horror’. It is a trilogy of short films. The first features a rather standered ghostly little girl. The second, and weirdest of the three, has biological specimens returning to life and the ghost of a toad dissecting some schoolgirls! The final story conserns a girl becoming possessed by the ghost of a dead crow!

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