Cultural References

Yuki Onna

taken from Obakemono

When the snow is falling heavily, those unlucky enough to be caught outside are in danger of an encounter with the dreaded snow woman. She comes dressed all in white, with skin so pale it is almost transparent, and she is frightfully tall, sometimes as much as ten feet or so. Sometimes her kimono has red on it, and her footprints are said to be spotted with the blood of her victims.

The yuki-onna is sometimes thought to be the ghost of a pregnant woman, who died when she got lost in a snowstorm and fell into ravine, and at times she is seen by the side of a road, holding her child and imploring passerbies to hold it for her. When an unlucky person takes this ice-cold baby, it becomes stuck to their arms, grows immensely heavy, and the gullible victim, immobilized, is buried in the snow. The yuki-onna is also said to snatch children away, and mothers will warn their offspring that the snow woman will take children who won't stop crying and go to sleep.

The best known version of the yuki-onna is that featured in Lafcadio Hearn's story of the same title. A pair of woodcutters, an old man and a youth, take shelter from a snowstorm in a ferryman's hut. The young man falls asleep, only to awaken, paralyzed, with a beautiful but very pale woman with frightening eyes blowing on the older man. She tells the youth she will spare his life so long as he never tells anyone about her. She vanishes, and he finds his partner dead and frozen solid.

The year after, he meets a young woman, tall and pale, and takes her as a wife. She remains hauntingly beautiful even after bearing him ten children, and one day he makes the mistake of alluding to his ghostly encounter - at which his wife transforms back into the yuki-onna she was all along, screeches that she is now only sparing him for the sake of their children, and vanishes forever.

Relevance to Inuyasha

Yuki onna makes no appearance in the Inuyasha manga, but is featured prominently in episode 101, in which she meets up with Miroku, whom she had saved when he was young.

An Introduction to Inuyasha