I like this one very much, although it is a bit brutal. The name is かちかち山 Kachi-kachi-yama. Yama means mountain and kachi-kachi is the crackling sound a fire makes. You will learn more about why a mountain would be named after the sound of fire in the fairy tale:
「ばあさん！ ばあさん！ ・・・ああっ、なんて事だ」
「うわーっ！ いたい、いたい！ この薬はとってもいたいよー！」
(the Crackling Mountain)
A long long time ago, there lived an old farmer and his wife who had made their home in the mountains, far from any town. Their only neighbor was a bad and malicious tanuki. This tanuki used to come out every night and run across to the farmer's field and spoil the vegetables and the rice which the farmer spent his time in carefully cultivating. The taunki at last grew so ruthless in his mischievous work, and did so much harm everywhere on the farm that the good-natured farme could not stand it any longer, and determined to put a stop to it. So he lay in wait day after day and night after night, with a big club, hoping to catch the tanuki, but all was in vain. Then he laid traps for the animal.
The farmer's trouble and patience was rewarded, for one fine day on going his rounds he found the tanuki caught in a hole he had dug. The farmer was delighted at having caught his enemy, and carried him home securely bound with rope. When he reached the house the farmer said to his wife:
"I have at last caught the tanuki. You must keep an eye on him while I am out at work and not let him escape, because I want to make him into soup tonight."
Saying this, he hung the tanuki from the rafters of his storehouse and went out to work in the fields. The tanuki was in great distress, for he did not at all like the idea of being made into soup that night, and he thought and thought for a long time, trying to hit upon some plan for escape. It was hard to think clearly in his uncomfortable position, for he had been hung upside down. Very near him, at the entrance to the storehouse, looking out toward the green fields and the pleasant sunshine, stood the farmer's old wife pounding barley. She looked tired and old. Her face was seamed with many wrinkles, and was as brown as leather, and every now and then she stopped to wipe the perspiration which rolled down her face.
"Dear lady," said the wily tanuki, "you must be very weary doing such heavy work in your old age. Won't you let me do that for you? My arms are very strong, and I could relieve you for a little while!"
"Thank you for your kindness," said the old woman, "but I cannot let you do this work for me because I must not untie you, for you might escape if I did, and my husband would be very angry if he came home and found you gone."
Now the tanuki is one of the most cunning of animals, and he said again in a very sad, gentle voice:
"You are very unkind. You might untie me, for I promise not to try to escape. If you are afraid of your husband, I will let you bind me again before his return when I have finished pounding the barley. I am so tired and sore tied up like this. If you would only let me down for a few minutes I would indeed be thankful!"
The old woman had a good and simple nature, and could not think badly of anyone. Much less did she thank that the tanuki was only deceiving her in order to get away. She felt sorry, too, for the animal as she turned to look at him. He looked in such a sad plight hanging downwards from the ceiling by his legs, which were all tied together so tightly that the rope and knots were cutting into his skin. So in the kindness of her heart, and belieing the creature's promise that he would not run away, she untied the cord and let him down.
The old woman then gave him the wooden pestle and told him to do the work foa short time while she rested. He took the pestle, but instead of doing the work as he was told, the tanuki at once sprang upon the old woman and knocked her down with the heavy piece of wood. He then killedher and cut her up and made soup of her, and waited for the return of the old farmer. The old man worked hard in his fields all day, and as he worked he thought with pleasure that no more now would his labor be spoiled by the destructive tanuki.
Toward sunset he left his work and turned to go home. He was very tired, but the thought of the nice supper of hot tanuki soup awaiting his return cheered him. The thought that the tanuki might bet free and take revenge on the poor old woman never once came into his mind.
The tanuki meanwhile assumed the old woman's form, and as soon as he saw the old farmer approaching came out to greet him on the veranda of the little house, saying:
"So you have come back at last. I have made the tanuki soup and have been waiting for you a long time."
The old farmer quickly took off his straw sandals and sat down before his tiny dinner tray. The innocent man never even dreamed that it was not his wife but the tanuki who was waiting upon him, and asked at once for the soup. Then the tanuki suddenly transformed himself back to his natural form and cried out:
"You wife-eating old man! Look out for the bones in the kitchen!"
Laughting loudly and derisively he escaped out of the house and ran away to his den in the hils. The old man was left behind alone. He could hardly believe what he had seen and heard. Then when he understood the whole truth he was so scared and horrified that he fainted right away. After a while he came around and burst into tears. He cried loudly and bitterly. He rocked himself to and fro in his hopeless grief. It seemed too terrible to be real that his faithful old wife had been killed and cooked by the taunki while he was working quietly in the fields, knowing nothing of what was going on at home, and congratulating himself on having once for all got rid of the wicked animal. And oh! the horrible thought; he had very nearly drunk the soup which the creature had made of his poor old woman. "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!" he wailed aloud.
Now, not far away there lived in the same mountain a kind, good-natured old rabbit. He heard the old man crying and sobbing and at once set out to see what was the matter, and if there was anything he could do to help his neighbor. The old man told him all that had happened. When the rabbit heard the story he was very angry at the wicket tanuki, and told the old man to leave everything to him and he would avenge his wife's death. The farmer was at last comforted, and, wiping away his tears, thanked the rabbit for his goodness in coming to him in his distress.
The rabbit, seeing that the farmer was growing calmer, went back to his home to lay his plans for the punishment of the tanuki.
The next day the weather was fine, and the rabbit went out to find the tanuki. He was not to be seen in the woods or on the hillside or in the fields anywhere, so the rabbit when to his den and found the tanuki hiding, for the animal had been afraid to show himself ever since he had escaped from the farmer's house, for fear of the man's wrath.
The rabbit called out:
"Why are you not out on such a beautiful day? Come out with me, and together we will go and cut grass on the hills together."
The tanuki, never doubting that the rabbit was his friend, willingly consented to go out with him, only too glad to get away from the neighborhood of the farmer. The rabbit led the way miles away from their homes, out on the hills where the grass grew tall and thick and sweet. They both set to work to cut down as much as they could carry home, to store it up for their winter's food. When they had each cut down all they wanted they tied it in bundles and then started homewards, each carrying his bundle of grass on his back. This time the rabbit made the tanuki go first.
When they had gone a little way, the rabbit took out a flint and steel, and striking it over the tanuki's back as he stepped along in front, set his bundle of grass on fire. The tanuki heard the flint striking, and asked:
"What is that noise, kachi kachi, crack crack?"
"Oh, that is nothing," replied the rabbit; "I only said Kachi kachi because this mountain is called Kachi-kachi-yama, the Crackling Mountain."
The fire soon spread in the bundle of dry grass on the tanuki's back. The badger, hearing the crackle on the burning grass, asked, "What is that?"
"Now we have come to the Burning Mountain," answered the rabbit.
By this time the bundle was nearly burnt out and all the hair had been burnt off the tanuki's back. He now knew what had happened by the smell of the smoke of the burning grass. Screaming with pain the tanuki ran as fast as he could to his hole. The rabbit followed and found him lying on his bed groaning with pain.
"What an unlucky fellow you are!" said the rabbit. "I can't imagine how this happened! I will bring you some medicine which will heal your back quickly."
The rabbit went away glad and smiling to think that the punishment upon the tanuki had already begun. He hoped that the tanuki would die of his burns, for he felt that nothing could be too bad for the animal, who was guilty of murdering a poor helpless old woman who had trusted him. He went home and made an ointment by mixing some sauce and red pepper together.
He carried this to the tanuki, but before putting it on he told him that it would cause him great pain, but that he must bear it patiently, because it was a very wonderful medicine for burns and scalds and such wounds. The tanuki thanked him and begged him to apply it at once. But no language can describe the agony of the tanuki as soon as the red pepper had been pasted all over his sore back. He rolled over and over and howled loudly. The rabbit, looking on, felt that the farmer's wife was beginning to be avenged.
The tanuki was in bed for about a month; but at last, in spite of the red pepper application, his burns healed and he got well. When the rabbit saw that the tanuki was getting well, he thought of another plan by which he could achieve the creature's death. So he went one day to pay the tanuki a visit and to congratulate him on his recovery.
During the conversation the rabbit mentioned that he was going fishing, and described how pleasant fishing was when the weather was fine and the sea smooth.
The tanuki listened with pleasure to the rabbit's account of the way he passed his time, and forgot all his pains and his month's illness, and thought what fun it would be if he could go fishing too; so he asked the rabbit if he would take him the next time he went out to fish. This was just what the rabbit wanted, so he agreed.
Then he went home and built two boats, one of wood and the other of clay. At last they were both finished, and as the rabbit stood and looked at his work he felt that all his trouble would be well rewarded if his plan succeeded, and he could manage to kill the tanuki now.
The day came when the rabbit had arranged to take the tanuki fishing. he kept the wooden boat himself and gave the tanuki the clay boat. The tanuki, who knew nothing about boats, was delighted with his new boat and thought how kind it was of the rabbit to give it to him. They both got into their boats and set out. After going some distance from the shore the rabbit proposed that they should try their boats and see which one could go the quickest. The tanuki fell in with the proposal, and they both set to work to row as fast as they could for some time. In the middle of the race the tanuki found his boat going to pieces, for the water now began to soften the clay.
He cried out in great fear to the rabbit to help him. But the rabbit answered that he was avenging the old woman's murder, and that this had been his intention all along, and that he was happy to think that the tanuki had at last met his reward for all his evil crimes, and was to drown with no one to help him.
Thus at last he kept his promise to the old farmer. The rabbit now turned and rowed shoreward, and having landed and pulled his boat upon the beach, hurried back to tell the old farmer everything, and how the tanuki, his enemy, had been killed.
The old farmer thanked him with tears in his eyes. He said that till now he could never sleep at night or be at peace in the daytime, thinking of how his wife's death was un-avenged, but from this time he would be able to sleep and eat as of old. He begged the rabbit to stay with him and share his home, so from this day the rabbit went to stay with the old farmer and they both lived together as good friends to the end of their days.
(--From Yei Theodora Ozaki's The Japanese Fairy Book; retold in English, but by a Japanese author.)
Now you will ask me what a tanuki is and I asked the same question to my language exchange partner. I was surprised about the answer, finally explaining the strange creature statues with big balls standing all around Japan. Here is an explanation from the very nice page, where I found the English translation for the fairy tale.
A tanuki 狸 is an animal unique to Japan; often translated as "badger", "raccoon", it is actually a small canine with facial markings similar to a raccoon. A telltale difference between it and the raccoon (which is at any rate indigenous to North America) is the lack of markings on the tanuki's tail, although this is often forgotten in art depicting the tanuki.
Like the fox (kitsune 狐), the tanuki is an animal thought to have shape-shifting powers and a trickster-like personality. Unlike the fox, which is usually thought of as a troublemaker at best, the tanuki is generally well liked by the Japanese people. It is known for its sense of humor and its love of sake, which it always carries in an earthenware jar, which it drinks from beneath its straw hat.
This story's tanuki is unusually fierce and bloodthirsty. Tanuki are usually not depicted in this way in Japanese folklore. In this version the man has "very nearly" drunk the soup; but in most versions he eats the entire thing and comments on how good it is before the tanuki reveals the truth. This is likely due to the story being retold for a more squeamish Western audience.
More about the tanuki can be found at The Obakemono Project.
Wikipedia knows more about the tanuki. It tells that the tanuki became a legendary creature, since the real badger only appeared in a small part of Japan, being known by most only by stories and fairy tales.
Secondly badger skin however, was a highly demanded good used in the process of gold crafting. Which is why many Goldsmiths would stand tanuki statues outside their homes for good luck. Which is why the tanuki became associated with gold and money and still today many people will stand tanuki statues in the hope of getting money.
Now you probably have noticed the tanuki's gigantic balls by now, which he is often using as drums. It is not surprisingly that they influenced the Japanese word for "balls" itself becoming 金玉 Kindama, literally translating to Golden Balls. ^_^
These gigantic golden balls became inspiration for many great poets and appear in many works of literature, poetry and art. Here is an example for a well known tanuki poem:
tan tan tanuki no kintama wa
kaze mo nai noni yura yura
sore o miteita oya danuki
hara o kakaete wa hha hha
choshi o awasete yura yura
Ra-Ra-Raccoon balls, see them sway
Even on a windless day
And when Papa Raccoon spied
These balls he laughed till he cried
And his own balls swung side to side
with that I wave my hands and swing my balls for farewell and welcome you in the next post to the German part of the fairy tale exchange