Goemon is the Japanese “Robin Hood”. He was a ninja who stole money and gold from rich people and gave it to poor people. I’m reading a book about his life and the most interesting thing is how he died. The legend says that Toyotomi Hideyoshi(One of the most important feudal lords in the history of Japan) troops killed Goemon’s wife, and he decided to avenge his wife death trying to assassinate Toyotomi.
Goemon entered into Toyotomi’s room at night while he was sleeping. But when he was almost next to him, ready to slay Toyotomi, he knocked a bell off the table. The bell’s sound alerted the guards and woke up Toyotomi. He was sentenced to death by being boiled alive together with his son in a caldron (troglodyte style?). Goemon was mighty and brave enough to keep his son outside of the boiling water the maximum time he could. Some versions of the legend say that the son survived, he was forgiven by the people who witnessed the inhuman effort made by his father in order to save him.
Goemon dying and keeping his son alive.
Bath tubes/ofuros with caldron shape are called goemon-buro in Japanese in reference to the Goemon’s death legend. I’ve never bath in a goemon-buro but there are some of them in traditional onsens. If you are very interested in bathing in a caldron/goemon-buro you can buy it via web or you can even build one yourself.
This is how a goemon-buro works
There are many movies and novels based on this legend. But most of these books and films are only available in Japanese. What crossed borders and became a world-wide phenomenon were the Goemon video games, I specially remember the SNES and N64 versions.
Links (Japanese but with interesting pics)