Leech Child

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  • Japanese: 蛭子 (Hiruko)

The leech child is a mythological figure which appears in Shintô origin myths. It was the first offspring born to Izanami and Izanagi, the Shintô progenitor deities. Deformed as the result of an error in the wedding ritual (Izanami, the female, spoke first), the leech child after three years still had not learned to walk (or, did not have legs, or had legs that drooped and couldn't be stood upon). It was sent away in a reed boat, and eventually became (or is otherwise strongly associated with) Awaji Island in the Inland Sea.

The leech child, or Hiruko, is also strongly associated with Ebisu, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, and the characters for "Hiruko" can also be alternatively read (pronounced) "Ebisu."


  • Hiruko 蛭子. Nihon kokugo daijiten 日本国語大辞典. Shogakukan Inc. Accessed via JapanKnowledge online resource.