Bebe Taian: Hyaku Monogatari: Yuki-onna

October 11, 2011

Hyaku Monogatari: Yuki-onna

Thanks to running three part-time businesses and working one on-payroll job, I've had little time for... well, anything. For once, I'm a little happy we're having financial troubles; the same thing that is causing me to work so much is allowing him to finally do things he's been needing to do, but never could due to his own former workload. I'm so happy for him!

But now that it's October, and we've FINALLY had our second day of semi-Fall-like weather here in FL, I've been all too ready for pumpkin spice cookies, phasing out cotton and hitoe kimono, and most of all, GHOST STORIES!!! Yes, I'm a big horror/fantasy lover. And that means... Hyaku-monogatari kaidankai! The Gathering of 100 Ghost Stories!

This is an old game played in Japan. No one is really sure when or how it started, but the game goes like this:

Just as night falls, light 100 candles in a room with a gathering of friends. Usually, the candles are in a circle around you. Take turns telling each other ghost stories; there are, of course, more than 100 ghost stories in Japan, but certain stories were very, very popular. As you finish telling each story, extinguish one candle. At the end of the 100 stories, when the last candle goes out, supposedly a ghost of some kind will appear!

Perhaps the most famous of the Kaidan in Western knowledge comes from modern stories like Ringu (The Ring), Ju-On (The Grudge), or older stories from Lafcadio Hearns' KWAIDAN.

Yuki-onna - CLAMPs "Shirahime-syo"
This story is of Yuki-onna,"Snow Woman", one of the most famous supernatural stories today. "Shirahime-syo" by CLAMP is a take on Yuki-Onna. But no matter what happens, the Snow Woman stories are often along the same lines:

Two woodcutters became caught in a snowstorm. Incredibly cold, and looking for shelter, they found only a small abandoned shack. Most of the wood was too damp to burn properly, and only a very small fire could be made. Together, they spent the night there. As the fire died out, they began to freeze... when a beautiful, silent woman as pale as snow comes into the shack. She wears white clothing from head to toe, her pale lips and long black hair the only features standing out. As she bends down to touch the older man, his skin loses colour and becomes bluish, frost forming on his fingertips as she breathes over him. The younger man wakes up to see this and is frozen with terror. Yuki-onna turns to look the younger man over. She decides to let him go, but only on one condition: he can never tell anyone what he saw that night.

Segawa Kikunojou II as Yuki Onna
When he arrives back home, he tells no one. He is too afraid of what might happen! He continues about his work well into Spring, when he meets a young woman traveling through the woods. She says that she has no family, and is a wanderer. This sort of thing often happened when a family could not support a single female; she was sent into the world to find her own work. She was very pretty, and very pale, either with hunger or because she had possibly come from a formerly well-to-do family (never having had to work outdoors before). In no time at all, she proved her usefulness and great skill in weaving and sewing. Eventually, she became the young mans' wife. They lived together for years, had children together, and were very happy with their simple life.

But little things about Yuki were strange to her husband. She seemed so familiar, as if they'd met before, and he just couldn't place it. The way she moved, or her faint smile... finally it came to him. THIS was Yuki-onna! The same woman who had spared his life years earlier!

Certain that it was her in disguise, he decided to tell her his story from so long ago. She listened patiently, and believed every word- but, she was angry. He had broken his promise never to repeat his story to anyone! She had to make sure he was good on his word somehow. But she did not kill him; rather, she left him to raise their children, and returned to her duties as the Snow Woman.

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