Songokū is the main character in Saiyūki; a Japanese version of a Chinese story, Journey to the West, published in the 16th century. There is a mythical character by the name Hanumān in India, who has been loved by the people of the country for thousands of years. There is a definite resemblance between the two monkey characters. Here is a rough description of Hanumān.

Hanumān is a Hindu god and an ardent devotee of the god Rāma. He is one of the central figures in the Hindu epic Rāmāyana. He is also mentioned in the Mahābharata, various Puranas, and Jain texts.

As a child, Hanumān once saw the bright red globe of the rising sun. Thinking it was a ripe fruit he leapt up into the sky to devour the succulent treat. Indra, fearing the worst and hoping to protect the Sun, threw his Vajra (thunderbolt) at the young Hanumān. Struck by the weapon on his cheek, Hanumān fell down in a coma. Hanumān’s celestial father, Vāyu, the Wind-God, sensed his son’s possible demise. Vāyu was devastated and withdrew into a cave with Hanumān’s body. There was no wind in the atmosphere and people began to choke for lack of air. Brāhma intervened and granted the boy great strength and immortality. Thus, Hanumān became a “chiranjeevi” – one who lives forever!

In Sanskrit, “Hanu” means cheek, and “mānth” means injure or hurt. Hence, Hanumān(th) means one who was injured on the cheek.

Nothing pleases Hanumān more than hearing recitations from the Rāmāyana. It is said that whenever and wherever the Rāmāyana is sung or read, Hanumān will be found very close by.

Not only in India, Hanumān is also worshiped in most of the South East Asian countries including Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Bali and Indonesia.