Yuki onna – 雪女 29. March 2023

Yuki onna are snow women, or snow witches. They seek out lost travelers – preferably men – during heavy snowstorms and steal their life energy by kissing them.

The appearance

Yuki onna are beautiful to look at. They appear as very tall petite women (up to 3m tall). The most striking feature is their extremely fair and flawless skin, which is so light that it resembles snow and sometimes even appears almost transparent. In contrast, their long hair and piercing eyes are black (in rare cases Yuki onna are also depicted with white hair). They wear elegant white kimonos, through which they optically almost merge with their surroundings during snowstorms.

The behavior

Yuki onna have two sides, like many other yōkai. They stay near mountain roads and hunt lost travelers, chilling them with a single touch and sucking the life energy out of them with a kiss, leaving them frozen. They also break into houses and leave the inhabitants as ice statues. On the flip side, they warn of impending snowstorms and caution small children not to play outside alone at night. Disobedient children are kidnapped. Some stories depict Yuki onna falling in love with their victims, even marrying them and living together happily. However, as supernatural beings, they do not age, which ultimately leads to the end of their marriages.

The Legend

In one account from Yamagata Prefecture, a man claimed to have been married to a yuki onna. His wife had beautiful piercing eyes and skin as white as a marble statue. Though he loved taking long, hot baths every night, she always refused to bathe, puzzling him greatly. One cold and snowy night, he insisted that she take a bath, warning her of freezing to death in the cold. When he checked on her a few minutes later, he found only half-melted icicles in the tub.

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