Long ago in Niigata there was a poor farming family. It was a large family: the grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, and many children all lived together. Although the people had little money, they lived happily in a house at the bottom of a mountain.
One snowy evening in winter the family sat around a warm fire. There was a pot of wild pig soup over the fire, and a delicious smell filled the house. Everyone was quite hungry, and they couldn’t wait to start eating.
“Isn’t the soup ready yet?” asked some of the children.
“We can’t wait any longer!” shouted the other children.
Just then there was a noise at the back door. The door opened, and some snow was blown into the house. Everyone turned around and was surprised to see a strange boy standing in the room. He was not like other boys because he had seven faces!
“Where are you from? Why are you here?” The people asked the boy these and many other questions, but he didn’t answer any of them.
The boy with seven faces looked very cold. He walked up to the fire and said, “May I sit by the fire with you?”
“Yes, please sit down. In a few minutes our dinner will be ready. Please have some wild pig soup with us,” said the grandfather.
“Do you have a house of your own? Where are you going to go after dinner?” asked the children, who were very curious. But the strange boy sat by the fire and said nothing.
“Well everyone, I think the soup is ready,” said the mother a few minutes later. She gave the strange boy a bowl and took the top off of the soup pot.
Suddenly the boy stood up. “Thank you, but I’m full,” he said. Then he left the house.
“What a strange boy. Why did he come here? He should have stayed to have dinner with us,” said everyone together.
The mother again lifted the top off of the soup pot. When she looked inside she was very surprised. “What? Where is the soup?” she shouted. Everyone went up to the pot and looked inside. Almost all of the soup was gone! “The boy ate the soup! He said that he was full,” they said. The children then ran out of the house to look for the strange boy, but they couldn’t find him anywhere.
When the children got back home their grandmother told them an interesting story. “Have you ever heard of the ‘snow child’?” she asked. “On winter nights the snow child sometimes visits people’s houses. Because they think he is a human, the people invite him to have dinner with them. But the child isn’t really human, and he eats all of their food. When I was a little girl I heard the story of the snow child for the first time. Touch the cushion the strange boy used,” she said.
The children went over by the fire and found the cushion used by the boy. They touched it, and they were surprised to find that it was quite wet.
Copyright 2009, Brian Southwick