|“||This must be the terrible mountain witch - I never thought such a creature really existed!||„|
|~ The peddlar encountering the witch|
The Mountain Witch is an antagonist in the Japanese story. She is an old woman living on the mountains in the country and she stalks tired travellers at night, asking them for their food, but if they don't agree she eats them!
The witch was feared throughout the towns around the mountains and people feared to go travelling through the mountain forest. One day, a peddlar had to sell his fish before they went bad, so he took these mackerel to another village in Japan to sell. But soon it was sunset and the peddlar got afraid at being out in the woods alone, and thought of returning, but then he pictured the money he would make. Soon, he heard someone walking behind him, but turned round and saw a horrible old woman, grinning manically. He soon realized this was the legendary witch, who called out if she could have his mackerel, as she was hungry. But the peddlar pretended to ignore her. He continued, but the witch asked again, and still he said no.
So, the witch said she would get to eating him and his horse if he refused. The peddlar was now terrified and looked behind him, but saw the witch was now right up inches away from him, he screamed and ran off, but the witch had his horse for dinner, as well as the mackerel.
The peddlar ran off through the woods and soon came upon a little house. He thought it was a woodcutter's home, and cautiously went in, asking if anyone was in, and soon he went to bed, but woke up when an old woman came in. He suddenly realized it was the witch's home, and got scared again. She made herself more dinner, saying she would have rice cake, and the peddlar whispered to her to make it. The witch was obviously mad because she didn't think it odd to have someone else answer her in her house! So, when the cakes were made, the starving peddlar ran down and ate them up.
The witch was confused when she came back to see them eaten, but blamed the mice. Then she went to bed, debating about whether she should go upstairs, where the peddlar was, or down on the kettle. This was obviously mad, but the peddlar whispered for her to go into the kettle, so she did.
You could probaably guess what happened next. The peddlar knew that the witch would only eat more humans and scare them if she was left to go free, so he decided to end her evil. He quietly came down and turned up the kettle full, and left the witch to roast alive. He told her she would steal no more, and the angry witch yelled to be let out, asking who had shut her in her own kettle, but the peddlar ran out and left her to roast.