The Dōjōji Tale and Ancient Bronze Metallurgical Traditions

  • Reinier Hesselink


A comparison of the motifs in the different versions of the famous Japanese folktale about the Dōjōji Temple leads the author to other tales which share some of the same motifs. In this way, he isolates two motif clusters, one on the theme of the mixed marriage between humans and snakes, and another one centered on the traditions of bell casting. In the Dōjōji Tale these motif clusters seem to have been joined by Buddhist authors eager to employ local pagan tales to write new stories with a Buddhist message. Next, the author translates two Chinese tales in which the same motif clusters appear. Although these tales show unmistakably the influence of popular Taoism, the similarities with the Dōjōji Tale are too striking to be coincidental. In his conclusion, the author proposes that the tales with these motifs were brought from China to Japan before the introduction of Buddhism (552).