Anago of Matsue

Unknown author, Yamato Kaiiki (1708)

A man from Tajima Province visited Izumo a few years back. He visited a place called Matsue, where there lived a 10-year-old boy named Anago. He thought that a strange name for a child, so he asked the locals, “Why is that child called Anago?” This is the story they told him.

When Anago’s mother was pregnant with him, she suddenly took ill and died. Her husband was overcome with grief, and said to his wife’s father, “It’s too soon. Please leave the body here with me for just a few days. I do not wish to part from her yet.”

The woman’s father grew angry. “You cannot leave her dead body in the house! That’s preposterous! Bury her at once!”

The man buried her that same day, yet he grieved for her so much that he lay over her grave for three days and three nights.

“How pitiful,” the villagers who saw him remarked. “As there is life, so there must be death. No matter how sad he feels, does he really have to go that far?”

And so, on midnight of the third night, the man heard the voice of a crying baby from inside the grave. ‘What’s this?’ the man thought, and immediately grabbed a hoe from his house. He dug up the grave and found his wife at once revived, shocking him. She had also given birth, so the man was overjoyed. They all returned home.

After that, his wife recovered favourably, and their child grew up healthy as well. And that is why they call the child Anago, Child of the Hole.

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