The turban shell

Reads: 693  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Once upon a time, there was a high-ranked Buddhism monk. He was so famous that even the dead wanted to hear him chant sutra. One day, a fisherman brought several turban shellfish for the monk. The
monk was watching the shellfish for a while, but suddenly...

Submitted: October 21, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 21, 2017



The turban shell taken in Koura - Legends of a seaside town in Japan,  series Vol.5


A long time ago, there was a famous O-shonin (holy priest in Buddhism) in Jyokoku-ji, a Buddhism temple in T-town near Japan Sea. Whenever this monk went out the mountain gate of the temple, the spirit of deceased and Muen-botoke (the soul of those who died leaving no one to attend to their grave) would cling to the holy monk. They were waiting for a blessed sutra that the monk chanted.


It was a hot summer day before O-bon Festival of the Dead (Three-day Buddhist festival held in Japan in July. It is believed that, in those days, the spirits of ancestors come back to the family home). The monk left the temple’s gate accompanied by servants, but he stopped there. He then closed his eyes, folded his hands in prayer. When a servant saw it, he felt there’s something suspicious, and asked the  holy priest.

"Osho-nin sama, what’s the matter with you, stopping there and folding your hands to pray?”

"You don’t see it, but now, there are nameless deceased before our eyes and are kneeling."

"Ugh… No way!"

"They came up from the sea and are seeking my sutra chanting."

"..Please do not make fun of us by saying such a joke."

"I am telling you the truth. They are now clinging to my clothes."

As the servants and the neighbors were watching, the lower part of monk’s stole and sleeves were getting wet. Even some water drops were falling. They were taken aback at what they saw and felt frightened.

"Eeek!  The dead really is clinging to Osho-nin sama."


At the sight of eerie events, people felt that their hair  stood up and ran away. The monk’s sutra must have been superb and wonderful so that even the dead were coming up.


It became the day before the O-bon. A neighbor fisherman visited this saint-like monk. The fisherman brought a couple of turban shells and said that these were harvested near Koura (a scenic cave on the coast of the area).

"Very good shellfish were taken, so I brought you to eat for the dinner."

The monk was watching the turban shells silently for a while, but suddenly began to chant sutra. And he told the fisherman who was being taken aback..

"I know you don’t understand this, but one of these turban shells is a ghost of the dead."

"Eh? Ugh!"


"This dead man lay on  the bottom of the ocean but he wanted to rest in peace. So, in order to have me read the sutra, he became a turban shell, got caught for you and came to me. Now, put this turban shell back in place. "

"Certainly, sir. I will do as you say."

"Today, your boat picked up the dead to be rest in peace - it shows your big catch. The dead is pleased that he was able to rest in peace after hearing my sutra. It turned a good memorial service for him. "

"Oh, heaven be praised! This is all thanks to you, O-shonin sama!”

The fisherman put the shell on the boat and rowed it,  and sunk the shell to the bottom of the place where it was taken.


The next morning, on the first day of O-bon Festival, a drowned body rose to the surface of the sea near Koura cave. The dead man could finally get off the ocean floor and returned to the beach, thanks to the high priest’s sutra. Everyone praised the greatness of the priest. The dead body was pulled up from the sea, and after the high priest chanted a warm sutra, it was buried in a cemetery for those who left no relatives behind. The fisherman who went to the next fishing was delighted with the big catch.


Later on, a ryokan (Japanese-style  inn) was built on the site of this cemetery. However, somehow suspicious things followed, and it was said that the ryokan went out of business without knowing when.


© Copyright 2020 yayoi2014. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Historical Fiction Short Stories