Hidesato / Tawara Toda

Dragon Helped: Dragon King
Origin: Japanese Mythology

History: The great and honorable Hidesato lived in the eleventh century CE. [1] One day, he crossed a bridge over a river near Lake Biwa when he encountered a hideous and enormous serpent lying asleep in his way. [1]

Without hesitate, Hidesato climbed over the serpent or dragon and continued on his way. [2] Had the creature been awake and aggressive, he surely would have slain the beast, but in his courage (or, his foolishness according to some), he did not harm the sleeping giant. [1]

Stories diverge at this point. Some accounts claim that Hidesato returned home and a young, beautiful woman visited him that night. She claimed to be the daughter of the Dragon King and the serpent in his path. [1] In other accounts, Hidesto merely looked back after a few steps because someone called his name. [2] In place of the dragon stood a man bowing in deep respect to him. [2] He wore a dragon-shaped crown or a crown with a serpent on it. [1] The man identified himself as the Dragon King of Lake Biwa. [2]

In either case, Hidesato received an invitation to slay a vast and magical centipede that threatened the kingdom of the Dragon King. [1] The centipede lived in the mountains around Lake Biwa and came down to the Dragon King's Palace, destroying his children and vassals. [2] The hideous dragon form that either the Dragon King or his daughter took was merely a test to find the mortal who feared no such creature. [2]

Hidesato welcomed another adventure [2] and agreed to slay the centipede on behalf of the Dragon King. [1] Thus, Hidesato obtained an invitation to the Palace of the Dragon King. [3] They received him with a fabulous feast and wonderful music until a horrible sound, far worse than claps of thunder, shook the palace. [3]

Hidesato took his bow and arrow and left the palace. Looking toward Mount Mikami, he saw the centipede wrapped around the peaks. [3] Its eyes were balls of fire glowing in its head, and its hundred feet were illuminated [1] like a winding chain of lanterns. [3]

A great archer, Hidesato notched an arrow and launched it straight toward its head, but it glanced off. [3] The second arrow did the same [1] It was then that Hidesato remembered that saliva had magical, and quite lethal, properties. [1,3] So put the tip of the last arrow in his mouth before he shot it at the centipede. [3] The monster died instantly. [1]

The Dragon King presented an even more sumptuous feast. [4] Before he left the palace, the Dragon King bestowed four gifts onto him: [4] a magic bag of rice that would never become empty, a self-replenishing roll of silk, a cooking pot that heated without fire, and a bell that had long been hidden under the lake. [1] In some stories, there were two bells presented to Hidesato. [4]

Hidesato presented the bell, which was the only non-magical item, to a local temple. [1] The other gifts are why, to this day, Hidesato is referred to as Tawara Toda, meaning 'My Lord Bag of Rice' [4] or 'Lord Toda of the Rice-bale.' [1]

Quick Facts

  • Hidesato slew the monstrous centipede at the request of the Dragon King. [1]
  • He earned the name Tawara Toda, 'My Lord Bag of Rice' because of his ever-replenishing bag of rice. [4]


  1. Piggott 93
  2. Davis 62
  3. Davis 63
  4. Davis 64

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.