15 Shocking Facts About Yuki Onna (Snow Woman Of Yokai Lore)

The Yuki Onna is a widely recognized but obscure yokai from Japan. Her story varies, from being a fearsome snow vampire in the mountains to a devoted wife and mother. Her appearance and persona have evolved over time, resembling a fleeting mist of snow. Despite her popularity, she remains elusive and intangible. Here are the 15 hair raising facts about Yuki Onna from Yokai World.

1From Snow Girl To Snowfall Witch, Yuki Onna Has Several Names

Yuki Onna Yokai

 The Yuki Onna is known by different names in different regions, including “tsurara-onna,” “kanekori-musume,” and “shigama-nyōbō.” Further the Yuki Onna goes by several other names, such as snow daughter, snow girl, snow woman, snow sis, snow granny, snow hag, snowfall witch, and snowfall hag. 

2She Is Mostly Depicted As A Beautiful Woman (Sometime N*ked & Sometime Wearing A Kimono)

Yuki Onna Yokai

Yuki Onna is said to appear on snowy nights as a stunning, tall woman with black hair and blue lips. Her skin is extremely pale or transparent, allowing her to blend into the snowy surroundings, as described in Lafcadio Hearn’s “Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things.” She is often depicted wearing a white kimono, but other accounts describe her as without clothes except for her face and hair that stand out against the snow. Despite her beauty, her eyes are capable of instilling fear in mortals. She glides across the snow without leaving footprints, and if threatened, she can transform into a cloud of mist or snow. Some legends even suggest that she has no feet, a characteristic of many Japanese ghosts.

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3According To Legends, Yuki Onna Born From The Spirit Of Someone Who Died In The Snow

Yuki Onna Yokai

According to some legends, the Yuki Onna is associated with winter and snowstorms and is believed to be the spirit of someone who died in the snow. Although she is known for her beauty and serenity, she can be ruthless in killing those who cross her path. Historically, she was mostly portrayed as evil until the 18th century. However, modern depictions often emphasize her ghostly nature and fleeting beauty, portraying her more as a human spirit.

4Yuki Onna’s Nature & Behaviour May Vary From Stories To Stories

In many tales, the Yuki Onna encounters passersby trapped in snowstorms and uses her icy breath to freeze them to death. Some legends claim she leads them astray, causing them to die of exposure. At other times, she appears holding a child, and when someone tries to take the child from her, they become frozen. Parents looking for missing children are especially vulnerable to this tactic. In more aggressive tales, Yuki Onna enters homes, blowing open the door with a gust of wind to kill sleeping residents. Some legends specify that she must first be invited inside.

The goals of the Yuki Onna vary in different legends. In some stories, she is content simply with causing the death of her victims. In others, she is more like a vampire, draining their blood or life force. In some tales, she behaves like a succubus, preying on weak-willed men and either draining or freezing them through sexual contact or a kiss.

5Yuki Onna Can Kill You If You Broke Her Promise At Any Age Of Life

Yuki Onna Yokai

In Japanese folklore, Yuki-onna, who represents snow and winter, has a kinder side to her. On occasion, she will spare potential victims for different reasons. For instance, in one famous legend, she releases a young boy because of his youthful beauty. Yuki-onna requires him to swear never to reveal her existence, but he later breaks that promise by telling his wife. The wife is revealed to be Yuki-onna herself, and although she is angry, she spares the boy out of love for their children. If he ever mistreats the children, however, she will return with no mercy. Fortunately, the boy is a caring father. In another version of the legend, Yuki-onna disappears when her husband finds out her true identity. After she melts away, she still goes to the afterlife.

6Yuki Onna Is Represented As Water Beggars By Tottori Prefecture

Yuki Onna Yokai

This particular story originates from Tottori Prefecture and portrays Yuki-onna as traveling on the wind during light snowfall. She carries a white Gohei wand and approaches anyone she meets, demanding either hot or cold water. If she receives cold water, she grows in size, but if hot water is given, she melts away and vanishes.

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7According To Yamagata Prefecture, Yuki Onna Belongs From The Moon & Having The Title Of Princess Of The Lunar World

Yuki Onna Yokai

This legend of Yuki-onna originates from Yamagata Prefecture where she is said to be the princess of the lunar world, residing on the moon. Although her life was filled with luxury, she found it incredibly dull. Fascinated by the Earth below, she sneaks out one night and falls to the planet, traveling on snow. Returning to the moon proves to be more difficult, and she becomes trapped on Earth. She appears on full moon nights during snow, longing for her previous home.

8In Some Versions, She Was A Terrible Snow Vampire Who Freeze Humans To Death

Yuki Onna Yokai

This variation of Yuki-onna is found in four Japanese provinces: Miyagi, Niigata, Gunma and Aomori. In this version, Yuki-onna is portrayed as a frightening snow vampire that haunts snowy forests and feeds on the vital energy of human beings, known as seiki. She kills her victims by freezing them to death, then extracting the seiki through their mouths. In Niigata prefecture, it is believed that Yuki-onna particularly likes the seiki of children, so mothers are warned not to let their kids play near forests on snowy nights.

9The Talking Snow Women Is A Form Of Yuki Onna Who Kills Victim While Communicating With Them

This variation of Yuki-onna comes from Ibaraki, Fukushima, Akita, and Fukui prefectures. In this version, she attacks her victims by engaging them in conversation. On dark and snowy nights, she calls out to people she encounters. If they answer her greeting, she attacks. In Fukushima and Ibaraki, it is said that if a person ignores her call, she grabs them and throws them into a nearby ravine.

10Famous Lafcadio Hearn’s Book Kwaidan Mentions An Incredible Yuki Onna Story

Yuki Onna Yokai

However, the Yuki Onna as most people are familiar with—whether in Japan or elsewhere—comes from the book Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn. All other Yuki Onnas have been surpassed by his kinder, gentler, and more romantic Yuki Onna, who has evolved into the standard for Yuki Onna. The Yuki Onna will almost certainly be mentioned in Hearn’s version today if at all.

According to his story, a long time ago, there were two woodcutters named Minokichi and Mosaku. Minokichi was young and Mosaku was old. They were caught in a snowstorm and sought refuge in a hut in the mountains. While they were sleeping, Minokichi woke up and saw a beautiful woman in white clothing. She breathed on Mosaku and he froze to death. She then approached Minokichi to breathe on him, but after looking at him she decided to spare him because he was young and beautiful. She made him promise not to tell anyone about her, but years later, Minokichi married a woman named O-yuki who resembled the snow woman he had encountered. Despite living a happy life with her, one night Minokichi told her about the incident, and O-yuki revealed that she was the snow woman. Although she threatened to kill him, she couldn’t bring herself to do it because of their children, so she simply melted and disappeared.

11The First Yuki Onna Comes from Sogi Shokoku Monogatari

Yuki Onna Yokai

The earliest recorded mention of Yuki-onna can be traced back to the Muromachi period (1333-1573) through the writings of a monk named Sogi. In his travels to Echigo province (present-day Niigata prefecture), Sogi encountered a Yuki-onna in his frozen garden one snowy morning. He described her as being incredibly tall (nearly 10 feet), with skin as white as snow and hair to match. Her kimono was also white and appeared to be made of a magical, translucent material. Sogi attempted to speak to her, but she vanished into the snow. Later, he learned from a local resident that she was the Spirit of Snow and appeared during heavy snowfall, though it was rare for her to be seen in the early spring.

12You Might Be Killed By Yuki Onna If You Hug A Child On Her Kind Request

Yuki Onna Yokai

In the Aomori and Yamagata prefectures, there’s a story about a similar creature known as the “Shigama-onna.” In Yamagata’s Kaminoyama region, a Yuki-onna would visit an old couple on a snowy night to warm up by the fire pit. The old man noticed that she was extremely cold when he tried to stop her from leaving. Before his eyes, she transformed into a whirlwind of snow that left the house through the chimney. The story shares similarities with the “kokakuchō,” and on blizzard nights, the Yuki-onna would appear hugging a child (yukinko) and ask those passing by to do the same. If someone hugged the child, they would become increasingly heavy with snow and freeze to death. It’s also said that those who refuse will be pushed into a snowy valley.

13You Will Get Immense Strength As Reward By Yuki Onna If You Can Hold Her Child With Increasing Weight

In Aomori’s Hirosaki, there is a story about a warrior who was approached by a Yuki-onna to hug a child, but the warrior held a tantō (short sword) near the child’s head while embracing it. This allowed the warrior to avoid the deadly outcome of being buried in snow. As a reward for hugging the child, the Yuki-onna gave the warrior many treasures. It is also said that those who can withstand the ever-growing weight of the yukinko and persist to the end will gain immense physical strength.

14Yuki Onna Is Also Infamous For Kidnapping Children

Yuki Onna Yokai

Yuki-onna, also known as “yukionba” in the Ina area of Nagano Prefecture, are said to manifest as yama-uba on snowy nights. Similar to this, people in Yoshida, Ehime Prefecture, are advised not to let their children play outside on nights when snow is piling up on the ground because of the possibility of seeing a “yukinba.”. Children were cautioned against going outside because in the Tōno region of Iwate Prefecture, on Little New Year (koshgatsu) or the 15th day of the first month, a yuki-onna would bring many kids with her to a field to play. It is clear from the foregoing that yuki-onna and yama-uba are frequently regarded as one species due to their shared propensity for fecundity and for bearing numerous offspring.

15Oshiroi Babaa Is Yet Another Version Who Drag Along With Mirror While Hobbling Through The Streets

In the Yoshino District around the Kumano River in Nara Prefecture, there is a similar legend of the “Oshiroi baa-san” or “oshiroi babaa” who is considered a form of Yuki-onna. They are said to carry mirrors and make clanging noises as they move. These features of carrying a white wand (gohei) and having a mirror are believed to be associated with a shrine maiden who serves a mountain deity in charge of birth and harvest.