Name Trivia

The great wall of text…!
Below is something of a partial translation of a version of the Sanko Densetsu (Three Lakes Legends) originating in the Akita area, from which the names of the main trio in Durarara!! SH are derived. The legends revolve around three humans, Hachiro Taro, Nansobo, and Tatsuko, who turned into dragons and each guard a lake. Very fun. Pardon any errors, I chose this version because the dragons have more heads, but…
(Another English version can be found here.)
Tatsuko-hime (also ‘Takko-hime’), unsurprisingly, is the source of Tatsugami Himeka’s name. ‘Tatsu’ is a homonym for ‘dragon’. The situation of having only a mother – and practising filial piety – applies to Himeka, too.
Yahiro comes from Hachiro Taro. ‘Hachi’, meaning eight, is also pronounced ‘Ya’. (He gets 8 heads in this version of the story.) ‘Yahiro’ also means ‘giant’, while ‘Mizuchi’ refers to a legged serpent, but the kanji used in his actual surname is ‘three-head-pond’. Though only mentioned in passing here, Hachiro Taro was said to be inhumanly strong since young, even before he became a dragon, which parallels Yahiro.
Due to the kanji of ‘Mizuchi’, Yahiro, like Rokujo Chikage, has a number-themed name.
Kotonami Kuon is a bit harder. ‘Nami’ is a reference to Nansobo – ‘nan’ and ‘nami’ are different pronunciations of ‘North’. Nansobo also grows nine heads at a point in the story, while the ‘ku’ in Kuon’s name can mean 9.
There was also once a Kotooka village near Lake Hachirogata, which merged with some other villages afterwards.
I have a theory that Kuon could eventually be paired with Mairu, since if this happens, just as Aoba and Kururi have matching names (‘ao’ as blue and ‘ruri’ as lapis), Kuon and Mairu will have matching names too (‘lasting sound’ and ‘flowing dance’)…
Sidenote: Lake Hachirogata was the second largest lake in Japan until it was drained for land reclamation.

23 October 2011 Spoken Collection of The Three Lakes Legends of Hachiro Taro
-Becoming the DragonAs Told By Kainuma Ine (Kazuno Folk Tale Association, Resident of Hanawa, Kazuno)
A long time ago, there was a young man by the name of Hachiro Taro, who lived in Kusagi Village. By the time he was 17 he was more than six feet tall, and had such strength he could fall ogres. Hachiro Taro was a filial child, often praised by the villagers for his virtue.
Once, the young man, with two companions, journeyed over a mountain to collect tree bark, all the way by the Oirase River. When Hachiro Taro went to quench his thirst, there were three char fish swimming in the river. The man thought to share one with each of his companions and cooked the fish. However, unable to resist the delicious aroma, Hachiro Taro ate all of them. Then, thirsty, he put his mouth to the river, and drank for a long time.
Suddenly, as he looked into his reflection in the water, he found he had become a dragon. Hachiro Taro, having transformed into a dragon of thirty-jo (about ninety metres), dammed the river to create Lake Towada, and presided over it. This was thousands of years ago.
-The Battle with Nansobo
As Told By Sawada  Yoshiyuki (Kazuno Folk Tale Association, Resident of Hanawa, Kazuno)
More than a thousand years ago, there was a monk by the name of Nansobo. In accordance with his late mother’s will, he isolated himself on Mount Kumamoto in Kishuu to pray for the Coming of Maitreya (the arrival of a boddhisvata to save the suffering).
On the last night of his praying, an elderly, white-haired man appeared to Nansobo in his dream to tell him, “I have heard your wish. However, for it to come true, you must first become a dragon. Here are a pair of iron sandals; the place you find another pair will be the place of your wish’s fufilment.”
Nansobo journeyed through the entirety of Japan, and at the end arrived at Lake Towada. There, in a cave, he discovered a pair of iron sandals.
Just as Nansobo was reading scripture, an enormous voice boomed from the bottom of the lake, “Leave at once.” “A god told me I am to live here,” said Nansobo. “No, this is my home,” replied an eight-headed Hachiro Taro, as he charged towards Nansobo. Nansobo kept his scripture in the fold of his robes, and transformed into a nine-headed dragon.
The battle between the two dragons persisted for seven days and seven nights, and in the end Hachiro Taro lost to the power of Nansobo, and fled bleeding.
  • (Omission of several other stories about Hachiro Taro)
  • (T/N: Another popular version has Nansobo’s task being to use the sandals until their straps break, at which point he should settle down where he is.)
-Takko of Lake Tazawa
As Told By Takahashi Shigeko (Akita Folk Tale Association, Resident of Misato Village)
A long, long time ago, in Kannarizawa, Akita, there was a village called Sannojo, and there lived a woman named Tatsuko and her mother. Tatsuko was a dazzlingly beautiful and kind woman, and was thus well-liked.
One day, as she looked at her reflection in the water, she thought, “I will grow old. Even if everyone says I am beautiful now, after forty years I will have white hair like my mother, and a hunchback,” and so she decided to go to pray to Guanyin. Tired from climbing the steps, she leant herself onto the rocks and fell asleep before Guanyin’s shrine. Guanyin appeared to her in a dream and said, “Tatsuko, your wish is not one that can be accomplished as a human.” “If I can remain young, I don’t mind not being human.” “I see. If that is your wish, I will grant it. In the north lies a clear spring; you will stay young if you drink from it.” With this, Guanyin vanished.
When spring arrived, the woman travelled north of Yakushitouge with friends to pick vegetables. On the way, she encountered the spring Guanyin had spoken of. After drinking its water, when she looked at her body, she found she had become a fierce-looking dragon. “Ah!” As she screamed, a storm came down like a waterfall, and Tatsuko was pulled into the water. Witnessing this, her friends rushed back to the village for help.
When they went to search for Tatsuko by the light of embers from the fireplace, they discovered a humongous lake they had never before seen. When they began to shout frantically, a terrible dragon rose, stirring the water. “You are not Tatsuko. Give Tatsuko back to us,” said they. Then beautiful Tatsuko appeared, and said, “Friends, I am sorry for the trouble. I prayed to Guanyin to stay young forever, and became this way. In exchange, I will bring fish for you to eat.” And with that she sunk back into the lake.
-Hachiro and Tatsuko
As Told by Ogata Masako (Akita Folk Tale Association, Resident of Yokote)
When the snow had melted from the mountains, and katakuri were blooming through the countryside, the ducks that had migrated to Lake Tazawa returned to Lake Hachirogata up north. The mistress of Lake Tazawa, Tatsuko-hime, had come to hear many interesting stories from the ducks through the winter. Amidst those stories was the tale of Hachiro Taro, who had turned from a human to a dragon. Being of the same circumstance, Tatsuko came to want to meet Hachiro Taro.
When spring arrived, the ducks, having returned to Lake Hachirogata, passed Tatsuko’s sentiment on to Taro immediately. Hachiro, made happy by the news, decided to head for Tazawa Lake come winter.
When the hail came, Tatsuko, after hearing the plan from the ducks, awaited Hachiro with bated breath. Hachiro Taro, arriving at Lake Tazawa, announced: “The water of Lake Tazawa is clear, and the mountains are a sight. Tatsuko-hime is even more beautiful. I would love to stay here with you.” Tatsuko was elated. And so through the winter Hachiro stayed and they became friends, and in the spring he returned to Lake Hachirogata.
However, one year, Nansobo, who presided over Lake Towada and was in love with Tatsuko, sought to destroy the relationship between the two. Nonetheless, he was defeated by Hachiro Taro, who viciously defended Tatsuko.
Since then, every year, when Lake Hachirogata grew stormy, a traveller dressed extravagantly would appear in the inns from Akita to Kabe and Semboku. It was said that he would always stay in a certain inn in the Saimyo temple in Nishikimura on the eleventh month of the old calendar. To the staff he would request that no one peek into his room.
One year, an old lady of the inn peeked into the room deep in the night. In the room was a large serpent coiled in slumber. Enraged, the traveller never visited again. One year, a great flood swept away both the inn and the old woman. That traveller was Hachiro Taro.
Even now, every winter, Tatsuko awaits Hachiro Taro making his way down from Lake Hachirogata.
With the heat of their love, Lake Tazawa never freezes, and grows deeper with their love each year. It is the deepest lake in Japan.

One thought on “Name Trivia”

  1. Thank you for translating these legends! I suppose, they aren’t vastly known (well, i could only fing about them after reading about them here). P.S. Tatsuko’s statue looks really pretty.


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