Nezumi Kozō (鼠小僧) is the nickname of Nakamura Jirokichi
(仲村次郎吉, 1797 - 1831), a Japanese thief and folk hero who
Edo (present-day Tokyo) during the
His exploits have been commemorated in kabuki theatre, folk songs,
jidaigeki, and modern pop culture.
1 Capture and tattoo
5 See also
6 External links
Capture and tattoo
In 1822, he was caught and tattooed, and banished from Edo. On August
8, 1831, he was captured again, and confessed to the burglary of over
100 samurai estates and the impressive theft of over 30,000 ryō
throughout his 15-year career. He was tied to a horse and paraded in
public before being beheaded at the Suzugamori execution grounds. His
head was then publicly displayed on a stake. He was buried at Ekō-in
located in the
Ryōgoku section of Tokyo. So many pilgrims chip away
pieces of his tombstone for charms that substitute stones have had to
be constructed since shortly after his death.
At the time of the arrest, Jirokichi was found to have very little
money. This, combined with the public humiliation he dealt out to the
daimyō, resulted in the popular legend that he gave the money to the
poor, turning the petty crook into a posthumous folk hero similar to
Robin Hood. The fact that he died alone, serving his wives with
divorce papers just prior to arrest in order to protect them from
sharing in the punishment as the law decreed, further enhanced his
Jirokichi's nickname, Nezumi Kozō, is not a name. Nezumi is the
Japanese word for "rat"; a kozō was a young errand-boy who worked in
a shop in the
Edo period. The nickname can thus be roughly translated
as "rat boy". Since a nickname containing the term kozō was often
given to pickpockets, who were often young boys and girls since the
profession required nimble fingers, it has been suggested that
Jirokichi was a well known pickpocket when he was younger.
Edo wo hashiru : a Japanese television series relating
the adventures of Nezumi Kozo, with
Hideaki Takizawa in the main part.
Criminal punishment in Edo-period Japan
Robin Hoods of the World: Japan's Jirokichi the Rat from the BBC
^ There are four Utagawa Toyokunis and this "
Utagawa Toyokuni II" can
not be decided without citation as the III called himself the II.
^ a b Goodman, David G. (1986). Pg 256-257. "After Apocalypse: Four
Japanese Plays of Hiroshima and Nagasaki", New York: Columbia