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"snow woman"


The yuki-onna is a feminine entity that appears in Japanese folklore. She manifests in remote areas during snowstorms. As is common in folklore, the exact characteristics of the yuki-onna vary according to the particular tale. She normally appears as a tall, beautiful woman with long hair and pale skin. She is commonly clad in a white kimono. Some accounts depict her without feet (a common characteristic of Japanese ghosts); and some stories describe her with glowing eyes that can mesmerize any person who gazes upon her face.  

Despite her beauty, the yuki-onna has deadly intentions. She kills by breathing a gust of frigid air on her victims, or by leading them astray to die from exposure. The yuki-onna may lure men with sexual temptations, only to drain them of life when any amorous act is consumated. She may even pretend to be holding an infant. When a person takes the infant from her, he or she is instantly frozen to death. 

The most famous depiction of the “snow woman” appears in Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. Hearn published Kwaidan in 1904; and Masaki Kobayashi made the book into a movie in 1965.