Yuki Onna

In Japanese folklore, yuki-onna (snow woman) is one of the most famous ghostly yokai. She is usually seen on snowy nights in the mountains, appearing as a beautiful woman with blue lips, ice cold skin so pale she is almost translucent, and long black hair laden with ice. Some say she has no feet and glides soundlessly across the snow wearing a white kimono. There are many variants of her tale. In some she is said to be able to freeze you solid with a single glance. In others it is said that if you ignore her call, she will bury you alive in the snow.

Mizuki Shigeru

Another says that she can suck the warmth and life force from your mouth, leaving you to die in the snow. It is possible that she is the personification of hypothermia. In some legends it is said that yuki-onna is the ghost of a woman who died in the snow, however most accounts suggest that she is actually a type of yokai, rather than a yurei (ghost). Either way, she is a terrifying figure and features in folktales throughout Japan.

Sawaki Suushi

Toriyama Sekien

Japanese handscroll, ca 1700  

'Kanbara: Night Snow' from the Tokaido Road Series - Utagawa Hiroshige, 1834

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