TRANSLATION: Sōgen’s fire
HABITAT: spotted at Mibu-dera in Kyoto
APPEARANCE: Sōgenbi is a type of hi no tama, or fireball yokai. It appears as the anguished head of an old monk, covered in flame, and flying about the sky.
LEGENDS: Long ago, at the temple of Mibu-dera in southern Kyoto there lived a monk named Sōgen. Sōgen was a wicked monk, for he would steal money out of the temple’s saisen bako, a large wooden box which holds offerings. He also made off with precious oil, which was to be used as an offering for the gods, and sold it in secret, keeping the money for himself. This went on for many years, until eventually Sōgen grew old and died. Because of his wickedness, he was reborn in hell to pay for his sins. Shortly after his death, it was said that the flaming head of old Sōgen could be seen floating about in the vicinity of Mibu-dera.