Acrylic painting Yuki-Onna by Carolina Seth

Yuki-Onna

The Story of YUKI-ONNA

Yuki-onna (snow woman) is a spirit or yokai in Japanese folklore. She's also called several names that are related to icicles.

There are many variations of this Japanese tale. Legends say that she appears in snowfall and glides without feet over the snow like a ghost. She feeds on human essence, and her killing method of choice is to blow on her victims to freeze them to death and then suck out their souls through their mouths.

In one variation, on the night of a blizzard, the yuki-onna would be hugging a child (yukinko) and ask passers-by to hug the child. When one hugs the child, the child would become heavier and heavier until one would become covered with snow and freeze to death. It is also told that if one refuses instead, one would be shoved down into a snowy valley.

There are various legends about the yuki-onna's true identity, such as saying that the yuki-onna is a snow spirit or the spirit of a woman who fell over in the snow. In a Setsuwa (a Japanese literary genre which consists of myths, legends, folktales, and anecdotes), the yuki-onna was originally a princess of the moon world and in order to leave a boring lifestyle came down to earth together with snow, but was unable to go back to the moon and so is said to appear on snowy moonlit nights.

Acrylic on panel. 5" x 7" (13 x 18 cm). Private Collection.