The demons pull off the lump from the old man's cheek

"Kobutori Jīsan" (こぶとりじいさん Kobutori Jiisan lit. translation "Lump-removing Old Man") is a Japanese Folktale about an old man who lost his lump after joining a party of demons celebrate and dance for a night.


A long time ago, there was an old man who had a lump on the right side of his face. He found the lump very annoying and did everything he could to get rid of it. The lump only got bigger and bigger. Losing all hope, he decided that he must live with the lump for the rest of his life.[1] One day he went into the mountain to cut wood. Rain began to pour and the wind blew very hard. In fear, the old man hid inside the hollow in an old tree, waiting for the storm to stop soon. He then heard voices in the distance. He listened to the voices of people coming closer and closer. He found it quite odd that he wasn't alone in the mountain. He peeked out of the hollow and was shocked to find a party of Oni (demon, ogre and/or monster) setting a great fire as light as day. They began to drink, sing and dance. They drank so much that they became drunk. Watching them having so much fun, the old man lost his fear and wanted to join in with them. He crept out of the hollow and began to dance. The demons were surprised to find the old man, wondering who he was. The old man continuing dancing. They laughed and enjoyed how well the old man danced. They enjoyed his dancing so much, the chief told the old man that he must come back every night and join in the parties. Despite the old man promising he would come back, some demons were not convinced. They suggested to keep something of value from the old man so that his promise would be kept. They thought about the lump on his face, for it was considered good luck and he would miss it dearly.[2] The chief convinced, he grabbed for the lump on the old man's face, twisted and pulled it off with no pain. The chief and the rest of the demons hurried away before the day would start. The old man felt his face to be smooth and without a lump. He forgot about cutting wood, and hurried home to his wife. His wife found him returning home without the lump on his face. She asked what had happened, and the old man told her all that had happened last night.[3]

The second old man returns home with two lumps on his face

Next door, there was an old man who also lived with a big lump on his left cheek. He too tried everything to get rid of the lump, but with no prevail. When he saw that his neighbor had lost his lump, he was determined to do the same. He came to ask his friend of how he had done it. The good old man told his neighbor about how he got his lump taken; something that he heard in the distance when he was hiding inside the hollow in the tree, the demons' party, and the dancing. So the old neighbor found the same hollow tree and hid inside and waited for nightfall. The demons had soon come and started to drink, sing and dance once more. Further into the party, the chief waited for the old man to show about so he would dance for them again. Hearing the chief speak of the old man, the second old man ran out from the hollow and appeared before the chief. The chief did not recognize him to be a different person and believed it to be the old man from last night. The chief asked the second old man to dance for them again. The old neighbor never learned how to dance, or knew how the good old man danced from before. He did everything trying to impress the demons. He waved his hands, stomped his feet and hopped, but nothing seemed to make them smile or laugh. The demons were dissatisfied and jeered at the old neighbor. Angry and dismayed, the chief gave back the lump he took as a promise, throwing it onto the old neighbor's right cheek. The second lump was now stuck to his face as if it had grown there always. The second old man tried to pull it off without success. The demons left and the selfish old man returned home, now with two lumps on his face.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ a b Ozaki, Theodora Yei (1903). The Japanese Fairy Book. 2 Whitehall Gardens: Westminster, Archibald Constable and Co. pp. 273–282.CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. ^ a b Tyler, Royall (1987). Japanese Tales. New York, USA: Pantheon Books, division of Random House Inc. pp. 239–241. ISBN 0-394-75656-8.
  3. ^ a b Hearn, Lafcadio (1918). Japanese Fairy Tales. New York: Boni and Liveright. pp. 73–76.