Jinmenju or Ninmenju (Chinese: 人面樹; pinyin: Rénmiànshù; Japanese: 人面樹 [にんめんじゅ、じんめんじゅ]; "human-faced tree") is a type of Yōkai and Yaoguai in Japanese and Chinese folklore. It is commonly depicted as a tree bearing flowers that resemble human heads. It notably appears in the Edo period Konjaku Hyakki Shūi by Toriyama Sekien.[1]

"Jinjenju" (人面樹) from the Konjaku Hyakki Shūi by Toriyama Sekien

Concept edit

The Konjaku Hyakki Shūi depicts it as a tree blooming with flowers that resemble human heads, with the following explanatory text:

In mountain valleys, its flowers just like human heads, without a word, they merely just smile away, smile away until its petals fall just like that (山谷にあり その花人の首のごとし ものいはずしてたゞ笑ふ事しきりなり しきりにわらへば そのまま落花すといふ)[2]

Besides Japanese yōkai, the Konjaku Hyakki Shūi also included publications of plants, animals and yōkai outside of Japan and this "jinmenju", as well as the Wakan Sansai Zue, quote from the Chinese Sancai Tuhui, which describes a similar tree from a land called "Daishikoku" (Chinese and Japanese: 大食国; pinyin: Dàshíguó; "big-eat country").[2]

According to the Sancai Tuhui, Daishikoku is a land thousand ri southwest, with flowers like human hands, and upon asking it questions, its flowers would laugh, but it wouldn't understand human language and if they laugh too much, the flowers would wither and fall.[3] The Rōō Sawa (老媼茶話), a collection of strange tales from Aizu, also quotes the Sancai Tuhui while making statements about this tree.[4]

In popular culture edit

The Pokémon Exeggutor is based on the jinmenju.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ 多田克己 (2006). 百鬼解読. 講談社文庫 (in Japanese). 講談社. pp. 20頁. ISBN 978-4-06-275484-2.
  2. ^ a b 稲田篤信・田中直日編 (1992). 鳥山石燕 画図百鬼夜行 (in Japanese). 高田衛監修. 国書刊行会. pp. 191頁. ISBN 978-4-336-03386-4.
  3. ^ 寺島良安 (1986). 和漢三才図会. 東洋文庫 (in Japanese). Vol. 3. 島田勇雄・竹島淳夫・樋口元巳訳注. 平凡社. pp. 319頁. ISBN 978-4-582-80456-0.
  4. ^ 三坂春編 (1992). "老媼茶話". In 高田衛校訂代表 (ed.). 近世奇談集成. 〈叢書江戸文庫〉 (in Japanese). Vol. 1. 国書刊行会. pp. 24頁. ISBN 978-4-336-03012-2.

External links edit