I thought I saw a goddess. At that moment I decided to have her, even if I had to kill her man. But if I could have her without killing, all the better.
~ Tajomaru

Tajomaru is the antagonist in Ryunosuke Akutagawa's short novel Yabu no Naka (In a Grove) and Akira Kurosawa's film adaptation from 1950, Rashomon (which actually uses Akutagawa's homonymous tale for the setting).

He was portrayed by the late Toshiro Mifune.


Tajomaru is a notorious bandit who is known (among other things) for being a womanizer; one story goes that he kidnapped two women from a party he robbed and raped both of them. In the story, he is captured after unknowingly drinking infected water from a spring and judged for the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife. Though these charges can be unconfirmed, Tajomaru is wanted for other crimes as well, so he proudly claims having had sex with the woman (not necessarily rape) after subduing her husband, whom he later killed in an intense sword fight. This is, however, inconsistent with the versions given by three other people:

  1. The woman, who says that Tajomaru raped her, and that she killed her husband in a fit of rage after he rejected her as "damaged goods"
  2. The samurai (who speaks through a medium), who says that he committed suicide out of shame after Tajomaru raped her and she fled
  3. A witness, who says that the woman goaded Tajomaru and the samurai into a duel that ended with Tajomaru killing the other man, and then ran from him

In the end, it is left ambiguous what actually happened. It is presumed, however, that Tajomaru is hanged by the court.