The Woman Buying Mochi

By unknown author, Yamato Kaiiki (1708)

In a certain village of Tosa Province, a pregnant woman died of illness. Her husband clothed her in a thin kimono and then buried her.

After that, each night a woman visited the local rice cake shop with a single silver coin to buy mochi. This went on for six nights, and on the seventh night, she brought a thin kimono.

“Please give me what this kimono is worth,” she said, and exchanged it for mochi before leaving.

The owner of the rice cake shop inspected the kimono the next morning. It was terribly dirty, so he washed it and hung it outside to dry. The husband of the deceased woman happened to pass by, and when he looked over, he saw the kimono that he had buried his wife in.

‘Did they perhaps dig up her grave and steal it?’ he wondered, and when he enquired of the owner, he explained about the woman who visited his shop each night.

Finding it strange, that night he watched for the woman’s arrival at the rice cake shop. It was indeed his wife. He followed her to the graveyard, where she finally disappeared.

His wife was gone, but the husband could hear something. Calming himself, he listened closer, and it was the faint sound of a baby crying. All the more suspicious, the husband dug up the mound and discovered his wife’s corpse had given birth to a child, which she embraced on her lap.

The husband took the child home and raised him. They say the child turned 18 or 19 during the first year of the Kambun Era, where he was seen leaving for Osaka to become a boatman.

Even though she had died, the woman was seen wandering through the streets in order to save her child… There is nothing more painful and heartrending than the love of a parent.

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