“Guard-general princess” is the Japanese Cinderella, and a paragon of the virtue of filial devotion. Born, according to the story, on the eighteenth day of the eighth month of the eighteenth year of emperor Shπmu’s reign (747), she was the daughter of an imperial minister and his wife, a royal princess. Childless, they appealed to Kannon and were granted a daughter in exchange for the life of one of the parents. At the age of three (some say five), therefore, the young girl’s mother died. Her father subsequently remarried. The stepmother hated the girl
and ordered her taken into the mountains and killed. She was saved from death and brought home to her father.

Disappointed, however, by the vanity of the world, she entered a monastery, where she meditated upon Buddha Amida, praying for the reincarnation of her mother in the Pure Land of the West. Years of austerity followed, during which she became a “living Buddha.” As she was at the end of a period of austerity, Amida Butsu appeared to her in the form of a nun, and, in response to her prayers, wove a cloth of five colours in one night, depicting the Bunki mandala, which shows the cosmography of the Pure Land.

The mandala covered the entire wall of the room she was in (a considerable feat, considering that looms of the day were much smaller than the width of a room).

Chujo-hime represents one of the most familiar and well-loved of the Buddhist miracle stories. Many of those were promulgated and told throughout Japan as examples of Buddhist principles and of the power of Buddhism. The myth is so attractive to Japanese because it contains major elements of Japanese ideology: filial piety, austerity in search of an ideal, and the mercy of the Buddha.



  • Glassman, Hank. “Chujo-hime, Convents, and Women’s Salvation.”


Handbook of Japanese Mythology written by Michael Ashkenazi – Copyright © 2003 by Michael Ashkenazi