Yuki-onna Monogatari

Yuki-onna Monogatari (雪女物語) is a Japanese otogi-zōshi in two books (one volume), likely composed in the Azuchi-Momoyama period or the beginning of the Edo period.

Date, genre and sourcesEdit

Yuki-onna Monogatari is a work of the otogi-zōshi genre[1] in two books (one volume).[1] It was probably composed in the Azuchi-Momoyama period or the beginning of the Edo period.[1]

It is one of a number of works depicting the defeat of a monster and the legendary origin of a famous sword,[1] other such works including the Heike Tsurugi no Maki.[1] This particular work portrays a marriage to a ghostly figure (怪婚 kai-kon),[1] which is not an uncommon theme in such stories.[1]

The work shows the influence of the yōkyoku (Noh libretti) Kokaji.[1] In his article for the Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten, Motoichi Kinoshita also notes the apparent influences of setsuwa such as Izumi Shikibu Inari-mōde (和泉式部稲荷詣),[1] Rashōmon Modori-bashi (羅生門戻橋),[1] Tsuchi-gumo Taiji (土蜘蛛退治)[1] and Tamamono Mae (玉藻前),[1] as well as the Noh play Momiji-gari,[1] on the work.

The word yuki-onna appears in the kōwakamai Fushimi Tokiwa (伏見常盤),[1] and the motif of people being taken by old raccoons is also seen in a story in the Kokon Chomonjū.[1]


In the first year of Chōtoku (995), Emperor Ichijō is told in a dream to commission the forging of a sword by Sanjō no Kokaji Munechika (三条小鍛冶宗近).[1] Munechika, with the assistance of the god Inari, forges the valuable blade Kogitsune-maru [ja].[1]

That winter, a malevolent female raccoon dog manifests as a yuki-onna and starts spiriting people away.[1] Several warriors, including the retainers of Tada Mitsunaka, are commissioned to eliminate the beast, and manage to injure it but fail to capture it.[1]

The following spring, Taira no Kanenobu encounters a beautiful woman on Mount Otowa [ja] and takes her home with him.[1] Kanenobu's former lover realizes the woman's true nature and attempts to warn him, but is strangled to death.[1] A fortune-teller tells Kanenobu that this was the work of the yuki-onna, and Kanenobu uses the sword Kogitsune-maru, with which he is entrusted by the emperor, to slay the creature.[1]

Textual traditionEdit

In the holdings of the Katei Archives (霞亭文庫) in the University of Tokyo, there is a Shōkaiban (松会版) printed edition dating to Kanbun 5 (1665).[1] The 1909 Kinko Shōsetsu Kaidai (近古小説解題) also reproduces a Manji 3 (1660) edition printed by Ishizu Hachirō Uemon (石津八郎右衛門).[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Kinoshita 1983, p. 126.

Works citedEdit

  • Kinoshita, Motoichi (1983). "Yuki-onna Monogatari". Nihon Koten Bungaku Daijiten 日本古典文学大辞典 (in Japanese). Vol. 6. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten. p. 126. OCLC 11917421.