Once, A very long time ago in Edo: there was a Ronin Samurai named Tamiya iemon, who was married to a beautiful girl named Oiwa: The two lived in poverty and where ultimately just not happy together. - One day after having a heated discussion with Oiwas father (Yotsuya Samon) about their marriage, He suggests that they should break up: To which Iemon responds by murdering him in cold blood!! Iemon then mislead Oiwa into believing that bandits attacked and murdered her father, and that he would one day exact revenge on the people responsible for their father's death. So the two stuck together - Sometime later, Oiwa gave birth to his child, Oiwa then fell ill and Iemon grew to resent both her & added responsibility of a child.Oume Kihei, their neighbour & granddaughter of Itô Kihei (a rich doctor) has fallen in love with Iemon but she believes herself to be less attractive than Oiwa, she doesn't think Iemon will ever want to become her husband. Sympathizing with Oume's plight, the doctor schemes to have Oiwa disfigured: he sends her poison, disguised as a facial cream which would have helped with her afterbirth Illness. Unbeknownst to Oiwa, she is scarred by the cream as she applies it, her face becoming red, swollen and disfigured.Upon seeing his wife's ghastly face, Iemon decides he can no longer remain with her. The grandfather approaches Iemon, telling him that he'd hire him as a samurai, and tells him to marry his grand daughter Oume they both then conspire to get rid of Oiwa. - Iemon pays a younger Kohei named Takuetsu to have his way with Oiwa so that Iemon can accuse them of adultery: that way, he'd have an honourable reason for the divorce.That night, Takuetsu cannot bring himself to go on with the plan and spills the beans to Oiwa about Iemon murdering her father & revealing their plot, he then shows Oiwa her reflection in a mirror. Realizing that she has been deceived: Oiwa readies herself to confront the doctor & her husband. Attempting to comb her hair it comes out in big, bloody clumps. At this, Oiwa becomes hysterical and picking up a sword, running towards the door, tripping and puncturing her throat. As she lay there dying, she curses Iemon, swearing revenge. The next day she was discovered by a servant.Iemon sends his men to hunt down Takuetsu, and simply carries out his plan, saying that the two where cheating on him, their bodies are attatched to some boards and sent down the river making it look like the two had died in a love suicide.Not long after, Iemon becomes engaged to Oume.- On the night of their wedding, when the two are finally alone, Iemon took off Oume's veil, revealing a Mutilated face of Oiwa, Iemon, terrified, takes out his sword and cuts her down. immidiately Realizing his mistake and horror; he runs outside and is met face to face by his kohei, Takuetsu. Drawing his sword again, he kills Takuetsu, only to reveal that it was actually his accomplice and father-in-law, the rich doctor Itô.Controlled by panic: Iemon runs deep into the mountains. One day while fishing, he comes across Oiwas rotting body and from there he rapidly descends into madness: Oiwa's face appearing everywhere he looks, he hears her voice calling out on the wind, the haunting intensifies until he decides to try and commit suicide, but each time, oiwa's ghostly hand stops his blade.Eventually, Oiwa's brother, hunts down Iemon who has completely lost his sanity, he goes down without much of a fight... The last thing Iemon saw as he died, was Oiwas hideous face.The End!!
• About this Yokai: 'Chochin Oiwa' is one form that the vengeful ghost (Onryo) of Lady Oiwa takes after being murdered by her husband, iemon. - The Climactic scene in the play were the unfaithful iemon loses his mind, Seeing Oiwas hideous face in pretty much anything and= everything around him (including his new wife.) – This pinnacle scene was highlighted by Hokusai in his 1830's 'Hyakkumonogatari' woodblock prints, his interpretation would inspire countless others. – "Cochin-oiwa" would be cemented as its own yokai in the Showa period (1926-1989) where it was included in Mizukis yokai encyclopedia's and other books like it - He wrote: "it was said when lanterns are hung under eaves during summer festivals are viewed late at night, they gradually lose their shape and become a frightening face like that of Oiwas."
"Chochin-Obake" (Paper lantern spooks) would become solidified as iconic/stock ghosts partially in thanks to Oiwas popularity, (though it is worth note that they certainly existed at least 50 years prior to the inception of Yotsuya Kaidan & Hokusais prints!)
See also: Chochin Obake.
Art sticker by Samkalensky part of my hyakki yagyo night parade of 100 demons sticker collection! Check my shop for many more! [Obviously my design was heavily inspired by Katsushika hoikusai's famous Ukiyo-e print (from 1831) Part of the his hyakkumonogatari series!]