theladyinthegraveyard:                       …



It means “iron rat” and this yokai is linked to a
legend. During the reign of Imperor Shirakawa ( 1073 – 1087) there was a monk
named Raigō and he was the abbot of Mii – dera,
monastery situated in Ōmi province at the foot of Mount Hiei. The
emperor was worried because he had not heir so he asked Raigō to pray the gods to give him an heir, so his blood line could be saved.
Raigō, as asked, prayed long and hard and in
1074 Prince Taruhito was born. The emperor was grateful and promised to the
abbot anything he wished to thank him. The monk asked a big new ordination
building so he could train new priests. The emperor agreed. But the monastery
of Mii – dera had a powerful rival monastery: Enryaku – ji, on the top of mount
Hiei, which had political influence and a powerful army of warrior monks.
Enryaku – ji could not abide that gift being granted to a rival temple and
pressed the emperor who reneged on his promise to Raigō, fearing a war. The
monk began to protest but the emperor refused to change his idea. On the 100th
day of his hunger strike, Raigō died. His heart was full of rage towards
the emperor and the rival monastery. His hate was so great that he transformed
into a vengeful ghost. After his death a ghostly vision was seen near the crib
of the young prince Taruhito and few days later the child died. But the
vengeance of the monk did not end there. The monk’s spirit transformed into a
gigantic rat, with teeth and claws strong as iron. The spirit, named Tesso
summoned an army of rats and they all went to the rival monastery. The army of
rats started to chew walls and doors, roofs and floors, attacking the monks and
destroying scrolls and books. Nothing could stop the animals and Tesso but a
shrine built in Mii – dera to appease the monk’s spirit and there is still a
shrine nowadays. A peculiar detail: Buddhist buildings tipically face east but
Raigo’s shrine was built facing the north and it points on the top of Mount
Hiei, at Enryaku – ji, his rival monastery.


Matthew Meyer – 

The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits: An Encyclopedia of Mononoke and Magic

Source 2: Toriyama SekienJapandemonium 

Image: Toriyama SekienTesso