Uriko-hime (うりこひめ) Princess Melon or Melon Maid is a Japanese folktale about a girl that is born out of a melon, adopted by a family and later replaced by a creature named Amanojaku.
Similar to the story of Momotaro; an old childless couple who dream of having a little girl happen to come upon a melon that was washing down a nearby stream (in some versions the melon was in their garden). When the couple splits the melon, they find a little baby girl and name her Uriko-hime, princess watermelon. The girl, believed to be a gift from the gods grows quickly under their care.
Uriko-hime grew to have many talents she could weave, create poetry, sing and was very kind to all who met her. One day a prince hearing of her beauty and kindness requested to marry her and her parents of course thrilled that a prince would marry their lovely girl accepted. They quickly ran off to make preparations, and left Uriko-hime at home warning her to stay indoors and not to let any strangers into their home until they returned.
Several hours later, that evening, Uriko-hime hears a loud knock at the door.
“Who is it?” asks Uriko-hime“I am, but a humble traveler from far away, in need of rest” remembering her parents’ instructions Uriko-hime refused to open the door.But the stranger persisted, “I have heard of your beauty. Just let me glance upon you for one second and I will be satisfied”. Just open the door, “a tiny crack, just the width of a finger will do”.Uriko-hime thought well with such a small opening surely that will not cause any harm and then he will leave.
Uriko-hime reached for the door and opened it just the width of a finger, and before she new it four fingers had slipped through the door and pushed it open. It wasn’t a person at all! It was an Amanojaku! A Yōkai that does mischief and evil deeds. In particular, they are known for provoking humans into acting upon the wicked desires buried deep within their hearts.
The Amanojaku leaped at Uriko-hime, tearing at her clothes. She fought for her life, biting and kicking at the Yōkai, but she was not strong enough. The Amanojaku snapped her neck, and she died. This evil creature did not stop there! He flayed Uriko-hime’s skin and wore it like a suit, hiding itself in her clothes and disguising itself as the young girl. When the girl’s parents came home, they were fooled into thinking their daughter was still alive.
Finally, the wedding day arrived. The elderly couple brought the Amanojaku-in-disguise to its husband-to-be. However, a sparrow in a nearby tree called out, warning the couple that their daughter was not what she seemed. It turns out it was the spirit of Uriko-hime in the bird warning her parents.
The parents then grabbed the girl tightly and held her down. They washed her body until the flayed skin sloughed off, and the Amanojaku was revealed. The Amanojaku tried to escape but they chased it and soon others joined the chase. They caught it and beat it to death.
Source 1: Yokai.com, retrieved 08/17/2022; shared under Creative Commons and Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.