The Snow Women of Japan

A young man lived alone in the woods, his house high up on a mountain trail.

The years passed slowly, each longer than the last; so deep was his loneliness.

Early one dark winter, a vicious snowstorm whipped along the countryside – a seemingly endless blizzard buried the trees and roads in white powder, freezing lakes and beasts and unwary travelers as it went.

The young man sat by his fire, alone and weeping.

“Oh, how I wish I had someone to share this miserable night with.”

No sooner had he sighed this phrase, than a soft knock struck his door – and a soft voice cried out “Help me…”


Winter – for all its hazards – has long been regarded by humans as one of the most beautiful times of the year.

The surreality of the paper-white ground, the bold patterns of bare tree branches across the gray sky, the tranquility of a fresh snowfall late at night.

In ancient times, ghost stories populated winter nights moreso than any other season, largely because the nights last so much longer and the barren landscape reminded us of life’s fleeting nature.

In Japan, spirits are said to exist that exemplify winter in all its danger and beauty.

They go by many names, varying from prefecture to prefecture, but they are most commonly known as the Yuki Onna (Snowfall Woman) and the Tsurara Onna (Icicle Woman), though legends are unclear as to whether these names are simply references to the same spirit.

However, the distinction between these spirits (if such a distinction exists) is the way in which they come to be. The Yuki Onna is, as westerners would describe it, a vengeful ghost of a young maiden who perished in a snowstorm. The Tsurara Onna, conversely, is born from an icicle infused with young man’s loneliness.

The two behave in much the same way, preying on men who wander too far off into the woods. Exactly how they go about this tends to vary from region to region, either acting much like vampires or succubi, often with the ability to drain the warmth or life force from their victim’s body. In ancient times, these spirits were universally feared and folklorically canonized as evil, though recent literature has shown sympathy towards them, appearing (often, but not always, as spectral love interests) in media ranging from Neil Gaiman novels to Akira Kurosowa films to Pokémon.

Do you have any examples of/encounters with such a creature to share? Let us know!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s