Benkei's father was the Kumano Betto (steward of the Kumano shrines), and Benkei is said to have been born in the Funada District of Kiho town. At the time of birth, he already looked around three-years-old with long hair and a full set of teeth. Believing he was a demon's child, Benkei's father attempted to abandon him, but his aunt felt sorry for Benkei and took him in, giving him the name Oniwaka and raising him.
Later, Benkei was sent to the temple at Mt. Hieizan to become a Buddhist monk, but because of his strong physique, he came to enjoy contests of strength, eventually becoming so violent that he was expelled from the temple.
One day, Benkei decided to test his strength by stealing 1,000 swords. He attacked warrior after warrior, quickly collecting 999 swords. As he was lying in wait to steal the final sword, the next person to appear was Ushiwakamaru (the samurai general Minamoto no Yoshitsune). When Benkei attacked him, Ushiwakamaru fought back. Acknowledging his defeat, Benkei subsequently became Minamoto no Yoshitsune's retainer and served him loyally for the rest of his life. In Benkei's final battle, he acted as a shield to protect Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and in his last moments, he died standing despite having been struck by countless arrows.
A stone monument has been erected on the site of the large camphor tree that grew in the garden of the house where Benkei was born and even now is familiar to residents of the Kiho town's Funada District as the site of the camphor tree where Benkei was born.