In Japanese folklore, uwabami is an enormous snake yokai with shapeshifting powers believed to eat and drink absolutely vast amounts. One of its favourite foods is people and legend says it can swallow humans whole. This terrifying creature lives in remote wilderness locations where it sets up ambushes for any passing travellers.

Toyohara Kunichika

Uwabami are also said to be able to control the elements and cause natural disasters. In one tale an enormous serpent took revenge for being tricked by sending storms and floods which wiped out an entire village. However in some cases uwabami are worshipped as guardian deities of an area and left offerings in the hope they will protect people.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ca. 1850s

Utagawa Kunikazu, 1853

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ca. 1850s

'Slaying the Uwabami Serpent' - Katsukawa Shuntei