Hitotsume-kozō (一 つ 目 小僧) is a Yōkai from Japan who takes on the appearance of a bald child with an eye in the center of his forehead similar to a Cyclops.
Description of Hitotsume-kozō
They usually do not cause any injury, and are said to appear suddenly and surprise people, and are a relatively harmless type of yōkai.
By this, we can say that their behavior could also be understood in terms of karakasa-obake. Perhaps because they do not perform evil deeds, when they are depicted in images, they are often portrayed in a humorous way.
Hitotsume-kozō are depicted wearing tōfu, but according to yōkai researcher Katsumi Tada, since "mame (豆粒 pieces of beans)" leads to "mametsu (滅 滅 healthy)", hitotsume-kozō are supposed to dislike beans, but somehow, before anyone knew it, hitotsume-kozō were switching to tōfu (made from soybeans) as their favorite food.
Furthermore, this is said to be related to tōfu-kozō.
They take on the appearance of a kozō (a monk in training), but there is also the theory that they come from the yōkai of Mount Hiei, the Ichigan hitoashi hōshi (一眼 一 足 法師 one-footed Buddhist priest with one eye).
Hitotsume-kozō in the classics
They can often be seen in kaidan, essays, and modern folklore material, but the story of "Kaidanoi no Tsue" (怪 談 老 の 杖) by Tōsaku Ikō is particularly well known.
In Yotsuya, Edo, lived a man named Ojima Yakiemon (小 嶋 弥 喜 右衛門), and headed to the estate of the Asanuno samurai family on business, and when he waited in the room, a kozō of about ten years old appeared, and rolled and lowered the hanging scroll into the tokonoma again and again.
When Yakiemon warned him to play a prank, the kozō said "shut up" as he turned around, and there was only one eye on his face. Yakiemon let out a scream and fell down, and was sent back to his home by the estate people who were surprised by his voice.
Then, according to the estate people, this kind of strange event happens about 4 or 5 times a year, but it does not particularly hurt; Even though Yakiemon slept for about 20 days, he became as robust as before.
It is said that hitotsume-kozō appear more often outside than inside.
According to the "Aizu Kaidan Shū (会 津 怪 談 集)" near the Honshi no Chō (本 四 ノ 丁) in Aizuwakamatsu, a girl met a child of 8 or 9 years old who asked her "onee-san, do you have money? " and answering "I want", the child's face had only one eye, and the girl was stared at by that eye that faded away right there.
Also, in the "Okayama no Kaidan", in Kamimomiimaidani, Kumenan, Kume district, Okayama prefecture, there was a hill road called Hitokuchizaka (一口 坂 "a mouth"), and in the past, when walking this road at night,
a bright blue light with a hitotsume-kozō would appear, and those who are unable to stand due to surprise/fear would be licked by a mouthful of a long mouth, and this would be where the name Hitokuchizaka comes from.
In Edo period yōkai depictions, such as the Hyakkai Zukan, the "Bakemono Zukushi" and the "Bakemono Emaki", it was represented as Mehitotsu-bō (目 一 つ 坊). Also, in Oshu, they are called "hitotsu managu".
Also in rakugo, people with one eye (including children) would appear, and in the program "Ichigankoku (一眼 国" One Eyed Country ")," he told how a charlatan heard about a one-eyed man in 120 or 140ri.
In the north of Edo, in an empty field, he went out to capture one to display for profit, and he found a one-eyed child, and when he tried to take him away, there was a great commotion and he was captured.
Everyone was one-eyed, and it ended with "how strange he is, he has two eyes" and "quickly, let's put him on display" (moreover, geographically, 120 ri north of Edo would be about 470 kilometers, which would be the prefecture of Iwate or Akita).
There is an inherited deformity called cyclopia. When the mother is deficient in vitamin A or other nutrients, the brain is unable to divide left and right, and there is only one eyeball.
More than just abnormalities with the brain, nerves or respiratory system, it is a disease that causes death in the womb before birth.
Vitamin A, other than green vegetables, is also contained in many animal foods, and in Japan, where meat culture is not widespread, it is perhaps not strange to lack vitamin A.
In this context, hitotsume-kozō have the appearance of a child and the clothes of a young priest, it is believed that babies born with one eye were called this, which is where it began.
In Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1932 (Showa 7), a skull with a single eye socket was dug up from the cemetery inside the city, and it was presumed to have been the result of a wild dog attack after the collapse.
and a "Hitotsume-kozō Jizō" was built as a memorial for it, and then people connected it with the legend of hitotsume-kozō and passed on among people. There is also the view that the owner of the skull had a cyclops.