|Japanese fairy tales Oni Tengu Kitsune Tanuki Kami
The Witch of the Mountain
In the days of old there was a small village at the foot of Tefukuyama
mountain. The inhabitants of this little village told stories of a
terrible witch, “yamamba,” who lived on the top of the
mountain. The peasants were all afraid to climb up the side of the
mountain because of her. Once a large moon rose up above the mountain
and all the peasants gathered to admire it. Then a terrible voice came
down the side of the mountain with a strong wind that tore the leaves
from the trees.
“Listen to me people,” the voice roared. “It’s
me, the mistress of Tefukuyama Mountain. And trouble has befallen me.
Yesterday I gave birth to a child and had nothing to feed him. So I
want you to bring me rice cakes. If you do not I will eat you.”
The frightened peasants rushed home and held council.
“You cannot disobey the witch ymambu,” once said.
“Yes and I feel sorry for her child, even if it is the baby of a witch, it is still a child,” another said.
So they collected rice from each house and cooked mochi. Then they began to debate who should go to bring this to the witch.
“Let Kamayasu Gonroku go,” an elder woman said. “He is villages most daring and brave person.”
“How will I find the yamambe if we do not know the way? Kamayasu asked.
“I know how to find the witch yamabu," the elderly lady told him.
"But I’m old and don’t have the strength to carry the
cakes, so I’ll come and point the way to you.”
So Kmayasu Gonroku went with the old lady in the woods house.
They walked and walked until they got nearly to the top of the
“I see you’ve come to visit me with some mochi,” the witch’s voice came overhead.
The brave young man trembled like a leaf on the wind at the sound of
her voice. Then crying in fear he fled down the side of the mountain.
The old woman clasped her hands together as he left her.
“Where are you?” she called to the witch. “I have your cakes.”
Eventually she found her way to the witch’s cave.
“Hello, yamamba,” she greeted the witch. “I brought
the cakes as we don’t want your son to die of starvation.”
“Thank you,” yamamba smiled at her. “It’s hard
living on the mountain with no one up here to help me.”
“The mochi was very heavy,” the old woman told yamamba.
“Do me a favor and fetch them from the path where the boy left
“Well my son rush and fetch the food,” Yamamba told her child.
The old woman was surprised for how could a child who was born only
yesterday bear such a burden. But low and behold the big land ran out
of the cave and returned with the mochi. The old witch and he began to
feast on the cakes, as she praised her son.
“It’s time for me to go home yamamba,” the old woman told the witch.
“Stay longer,” the witch requested. “It’s very
boring out here, all alone. Don’t be afraid I won’t harm
So the old lady stayed. Past autumn until winter began to wane.
“It’s time for you to go home, your human and humans have
to live with people,” the witch told the old lady at last.
”In gratitude for yoru help, I will give you a gift.”
The witch then gave the old lady a parcel. Then the yamamba waved her
hand and the old lady was lifted up on a mountain breeze and brought
down safely to her village home.
The villagers were surprised to see her for they’d thought that the evil yamamba had eaten her.
“How did you escape from the witch?” they asked her.
“She is not a wicked witch of Tefukuyama Mountain, nor is she scary,” the old woman told them.
The old woman unfolded the package that the witch had given her and
found a beautiful piece of cloth from which she sewed a dress for her
granddaughters. But here’s the miracle. No mater how much of the
cloth she used in never got smaller.