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Yuki Onna: The Snow Woman

Yuki-onna(雪女) from the Gazu Hyakki Yakō

Image via Wikipedia

Many stories are told about the beautiful Snow Woman of Japan. You can search Google books’ copy of Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn for one of them, and at, you can look for Richard Gordon Smith’s “The Snow Ghost” in Chapter XLIX of Ancient Tales and Folk-lore of Japan.

Like the snow she’s named after, the Yuki-Onna is shifting and hard to hold on to. The stories told about her disagree about her nature and origins.

The Yuki-Onna is a lovely lady, willowy and tall, with skin so white it’s nearly translucent (Nowadays we like people to have a healthy tan glow, but once upon a time, white skin was the height of fashion–it meant that a lady was rich enough she didn’t have to work outside.). In some stories she wears a white kimono. She appears mysteriously, either blowing into a house she’s been invited into, or just manifesting out of a whirl of snow in a storm. She moves with such lightness and grace that she doesn’t leave footprints in the snow.

Some say parents looking for a lost child in a snowstorm will encounter this beautiful lady holding a baby. When they agree to hold the child for her, they are frozen in place forever.

Some say that a host who takes pity on a lovely traveler in a storm might be rewarded by this spirit freezing them to death in their own beds.

Some say the Yuki-Onna sucks the life-force of her victims before they die. But others say that the Yuki-Onna takes pity on some of her would-be victims if they are young and beautiful. In the Lafcadio Hearn story, this leads to interesting consequences.

No one really knows whether the Yuki-Onna was once human. Some tales tell us that her life as a woman ended tragically in a snowstorm, but in others, she is simply the spirit of the snow.


Kwaidan: Stories And Studies Of Strange Things
Kwaidan: Stories And Studies Of Strange Things
by Lafcadio Hearn
Richard Gordon Smith, Ancient Tales and Folk-lore of Japan, 1918

About teresawilde

Author of Young Adult Paranormals, Paranormal Romance, Historical Paranormal Romance, tragical- comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, and poem unlimited.

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