Once upon a time
there was a cowherd
. One day he decided to go to a village
in the mountains
to sell some fish
. He bundled some dried cod
on the back of his cow
and started off on his journey. He was high up in the mountains when snow
began falling, and he heard someone calling over to him.
He was wondering who could possibly be calling to him in this place, and looked over to see where the voice could be coming from. He was amazed by what he saw: a huge ogress coming towards him, and calling him. She had a large mouth, split up to the ears, long silvery hair like barbed wire, and was staring at the young man with glowing eyes. This awful creature was called Yamamba. The man got scared and threw her a fish, hoping that would make her happy.
Yamamba swallowed the fish in one large gulp and demanded another one. The young man replied that he had to sell them in the village, but then noticed the large red mouth on Yamamba, and threw her another fish.
Yamaba then demanded another one, and the cowherd denied her. Yamamba said that if the cowherd didn't give her all of the fish, she'd eat the cowherd. The cowherd then threw Yamamba all of the dried cod, which she swallowed in one gulp. She then laid her eyes on the cow, and not even waiting to ask the cowherd, seized the cow and swallowed it in one gulp as well.
Yamamba then said, "I'm still a little hungry, I think I'm going to have you too!"
The young man didn't like this idea, so he said, "I've been on a long journey with my cow. I'm so muddy! You can't eat me like this. I'm going to wash myself at the lake just around this mountain. Wait here." He pretended to go to the lake, but then he ran off as fast as he could. The ogress waited for him, but seeing that he didn't return, realized that she had been tricked. She ran off after him. He heard the creature coming and hid in some bushes. Yamamba still saw him, but he was able to escape again. He soon came upon a house, and ran inside and hid in the attic. Yamamba ran into the house after him, and looked around saying, "Unbelievable! I'm back home!".
The cowherd began to shake with fear upon hearing that he was in the beast's house. The ogress sat down by the fire, and complained to herself b/c she was unable to eat the young man. She then said aloud, "Hm... what should I do? Go to bed, or eat rice cakes?"
The man heard this from the attic and whispered, "Rice cakes, rice cakes."
The ogress heard this and said, "Ahh, the god of fire wants some rice cakes" and put some to roast on the fire. She waited while the cakes roasted, but fell asleep. The smell of the rice cakes wafted up to the attic, and made the cowherd very hungry. When he saw the ogress sleeping, he came down and picked the cakes up one by one with a long stick that was in the attic, and started eating them.
The ogress woke up at the sound of him biting the cakes, and screamed, "Who's eating my rice cakes? it must be a mouse... I'm so scared of mice! I've got to hide." She looked around for a place to hide. "If I hide in the cauldron, I'll be safe... the mouse can't nibble through a cast-iron cauldron." So she jumped in the cauldron and put the lid on it.
Then the cowherd came down from the attic very carefully and put a big heavy stone on the lid of the cauldron. After that, he lit a fire underneath it. Inside, it was getting horribly hot and the ogress could not stand it anymore. She pushed off the cover screaming and jumped out. While she was screaming, the fish and the cow she had gobbled up poured out of her large red mouth split up to the ears. The creature, hurting with burns and mad with fear, fled. The cowherd then gathered the fish, bundled them together again on the back of the cow, and went on his way singing toward the far village ahead in the mountains.