Kashin Koji (果心居士)
Koji KASHIN (year of birth unknown) was a magician who made his appearance at the end of the Muromachi period. He was also called "Shippo Gyoja" (or "Shichiho Gyoja"; written as 七宝行者). History record indicates that he performed magic before Nobunaga ODA, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, Mitsuhide AKECHI, Hisahide MATSUNAGA, and others, but there is also an opinion which questions his existence.
According to "Gizankokaku" (a book of desultory gossip stories) by Guken which is said to have come about at the end of the Azuchi-Momoyama period, Koji was born in Echigo Province. Although his priesthood lied with Kofuku-ji Temple in Yamato Province, due to his excellence in magic of a non-Buddhist method, he was excommunicated. It seems that later, in expectation of becoming a vassal of Nobunaga ODA, he performed magic in front of Nobunaga and was praised, but was not allowed to become Nobunaga's officer.
Also, according to "Old Man's Tea Talk", an essay by Ei KASHIWAZAKI during the Edo period, in July of 1612, someone named Koji INSHIN appeared before Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in Shizuoka City. Ieyasu, who knew Koji INSHIN well, asked, "How old are you now?"and Koji replied he was eighty-eight years old. If this person was Koji KASHIN, then it means that he was born in 1542. Also, "Japanese Miscellany" (The Writings on Japan) by Yakumo KOIZUMI contains "Story of Koji KASHIN", according to which, Koji called a ship to come out of a drawing, and he boarded the ship and disappeared into the drawing. There is also a theory that in June of 1584, he was killed by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI.
Magic by Koji KASHIN, according to tradition, includes the following:
When he threw away bamboo leaves on the surface of a lake in Nara Park, immediately the leaves turned into fish and swam.
When he used a toothpick to stroke a tooth of a man who did not believe the magic described above, the man's tooth dangled as if it would fall out.
Koji was especially close with Hisahide MATSUNAGA.
Hisahide challenged Koji by asking: "I have experienced many dreadful scenes in battlefield, but can you still make me feel scared?"
Koji made the phantom of Hisahide's wife, who had died several years ago, appear, and frightened Hisahide.
When Koji was called upon Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, Koji exposed Hideyoshi's past action which had not been told to anyone, and caused resentment; Koji was captured and crucified. However, it is also said that at that time, Koji transformed himself into a mouse and escaped, and an eagle carried him away in its beaks.
All of the above can be explained by principles of conjuring tricks; as such, according to one theory, he is regarded as "Koji KOSHIN, the Conjurer".
Works in which he makes appearances
Being an unidentifiable person, there is an opinion which questions even his existence. On the other hand, due to his unidentifiable nature, he often appears in tales of fantastic of later years, as a hermit who waded through the troubled times of the Sengoku period, or a mysterious person like ninja.