You are reading: Winter Monsters in Japan
As the nights get longer and winter approaches, Japanese people, like people all across the world, brace themselves for the cold. Winter is now a time for resting at home, eating sweet potatoes, and putting your feet in front of the heater, but it was formerly a time for caution and anxiety before the invention of electricity.
With so many hazards brought on by the cold, it’s no surprise that there are numerous myths about yokai (Japanese ghosts) and monsters hiding in the snow, from ice maidens to ice vampires. They are also known as winter monsters in Japan.
Japan Weeknd Magazine gives a survival guide on the wicked side of Japanese winter to protect you from the twisted beasts this winter season.
1. The succubi of winter [Winter Monsters in Japan]
Even if it’s difficult to go out and meet people in the winter, it’s worth being cautious if you encounter a seemingly ideal lady in the midst of a snowstorm. Unfortunately, snow woman (the siren-like attraction of yuki-onna) has led many men to destruction .
There are several tales regarding these spirits, mostly due to the scarcity of survivors, but the most recurrent theme is that staring at the yuki-face onna’s and trying to talk to her leads her to consume you. Unless, of course, you believe another urban legend that says ignoring her causes her to attack.
Different parts of the country tell different stories, with her getting more deadly as you move north—but not necessarily. Yuki-onna are sometimes more concerned in meeting “Mr. Right” than in eating. Men have been reported to be seduced away from their spouses by the white succubus. Like many yokai, the yuki-onna is famously unpredictable. There are as many stories about her freezing her lover to death with a frosty kiss as there are about how she fell in love with them.
Like snow, most of these creatures can be thwarted by hot things…
A similar tale speaks of a guy who was so enchanted by the beauty of an icicle that he declared that he desired a wife who was just as exquisite. Then, out of nowhere, a strange lady came. He should’ve known she wasn’t human, but rather a tsurara-onna, a kind of yokai (icicle woman).
The enigmatic lady vanished in the spring after a winter wedding, so the guy chose to marry a new woman in the summer. However, when the weather became cold again, the tsurara-onna resurfaced, and instead of a tearful reunion, the guy met his death with the perfect icicle sliced into his neck.
2. Stranger peril
Winter stories in Japan typically advise about performing favors for strangers in the cold. Strangers are frequently evil in such traditions, so be cautious if you hear a voice calling you out into the snow. Consider this scenario: you’re walking through a blizzard when you come across a gorgeous mother carrying a shivering infant to her bosom. “Keep him warm by hugging the infant,” the mother advises.
You’ll feel colder when you hold the infant in your arms, as if life is seeping from you. You only realize you’ve run into the yuki-onba (snowy nursing mother) and her frosty infant when it’s too late.
The sound of an elderly woman reaching out to travelers in the middle of the night, pleading for assistance, is a similar scenario. Of course, who wouldn’t want to assist an elderly woman in need? The would-be heroes, however, are greeted by a fanged beast known as a yukinba (snow hag). Fortunately, the hag bounces on one leg, making her relatively simple to outrun.
3. Keep an eye out for the warning indicators.
Other accounts claim that the usual symptoms of hypothermia are really indicators of something more dangerous. If you’ve ever gone out in the snow and felt unusually depleted of energy, you should be on the lookout for snow vampires who seek to freeze their victims to death and then suck their vitality.
Also, make sure you’re familiar with the region, since many monsters relish guiding inexperienced tourists astray. The yuki-onna and her male counterpart, the yuki-jiji (snow old man), for example, like guiding naive tourists down cliffs or into ravines.
4. Catch them off guard and beat them at their own game.
One of the most fascinating aspects of all yokai is that their very natures frequently force them to have flaws. These may be used by astute travelers to outsmart these animals and survive their confrontations.
If a fascinating beauty approaches you and you believe she’s a yuki-onna, keep in mind that many yokai don’t have feet in the traditional sense. Many accounts describe them as seeming to float above the snow and without even leaving tracks if you can look beyond their appearance.
Another benefit is that, like snow, most of these species can be stopped by heated objects. One winter yokai, for example, was prevented when a compassionate villager served it hot tea. The beast gulped down the steaming fluid without pausing to consider its actions, and it was too dissolved to fight.
5. How to Keep Yourself Safe
While these ghosts are frightening, they also offer valuable lessons, such as how to be safe during winter. First and foremost, be certain you know where you’re going. Keep an eye out for odd folks (even seemingly innocent ones). Important lessons include being watchful, keeping note of how fatigued you are, and always carrying a hot beverage with you.
However, the most important thing to remember this winter season is to remain safe, keep warm, and be aware of weird voices beckoning you out into the snow.
Which winter yokai is your favorite? Do you think you’d be able to withstand a frigid meeting with a yuki-onna? Let us know what you think in the comments!