Swallowed by a Snake

By Tourai Sanna (1744-1810)

A hunter from Hizen Province was climbing Mt Matsuura to find bait when suddenly the entire sky turned black like lacquer. At the top of the mountain, two lights appeared so bright that they shone like the sun and moon together. Finding it odd, the hunter looked closer and saw that the lights were the eyes of a giant snake. It flicked out its bright red tongue and extended its neck as though to swallow the man. He panicked and tried to run, but the snake easily swallowed him whole.

Inside the giant snake’s stomach, its heart shone so brightly that it was light like midday, and so hot that it was unbearable. The hunter looked around and saw he was surrounded by corpses. They had only been recently swallowed, as the flesh was still upon their bones, but in their state of decay, most no longer resembled humans. Those unfortunate beings that did manage to resemble their former shape still found their limbs melting into nothingness.

Amongst the corpses, the hunter discovered a samurai praying to Buddha. He was crawling around, not yet dead, and he said to the hunter, “Have you too been swallowed? I do not believe we can be saved, but I am glad to have a sword by my side. At the very least we can cut through the beast’s flesh and die outside its belly. What do you say?”

“A splendid idea,” the hunter replied. “Let’s do it.”

The pair pierced the giant snake’s side with all their might, and as they worked their way out, the creature writhed in agony. It was in so much pain that it flung itself here and there, but regardless, the men grabbed one of its bones, large and sturdy like the trunk of a pine tree, and continued digging until they created a hole.

The giant snake then died, followed shortly thereafter by the samurai, his energy spent. The hunter proudly crawled out of the dead beast and discovered himself in the middle of the ocean. Hopelessly lost, the man was thankfully saved by a passing fishing boat. But it turned out the giant snake was poisonous, and his head boiled like a kettle. His eyes and nose melted away until he looked just like a nopperabou, that mythical monster with no face. His life was saved, but at what cost?

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