Snake Woman

By Ban Yuusa & Takagi Kousuke, Taihei Hyaku Monogatari (1732)

There was a farmer by the name of Magobei who lived near Kanayama in Bizen Province. His younger brother worked in the neighbouring Harima Province as a fisherman. Magobei lived a prosperous life with little discomfort. Yet, he did not have a child, so he often worried about his future. One day, he suddenly took ill, and day by day, his illness grew more serious.

He sent a message to Harima, informing his brother that his time was nearing, and his brother rushed back to his side. Magobei’s heart was filled with joy at the sight of him as he lay on his deathbed, and he said, “Thank you for coming so far to see me. I don’t think I’m going to get any better. I entrust the funeral arrangements to you. Being that I have no heir, I give all of my wealth and land to you. As of today, you can end your barbarous lifestyle and live here, in my mansion.”

Magobei then pointed to his mistress, standing nearby.

“This woman has served me for many years, and we are now husband and wife. Please watch over her for me when I’m gone. I beg of you.”

His younger brother called a monk, and weeping, they held Magobei’s funeral. Magobei’s wife was also consumed with sadness, and accompanied everyone to his burial. His remains were buried in the earth, the monk held a service for him, and then everyone was about to head home.

The woman, however, suddenly approached the mount where Magobei was buried. She circled it three times and then collapsed, before turning into a giant snake and dying.

Everyone panicked, but the monk, looking closely at the scene, said, “Sometimes these things happen. You should bury them together.”

The people buried the snake with Magobei. The monk said a prayer for her and then held a memorial service. They say that now, goldenrain trees grow from that very same mound.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: