Yuki Onba and Yukinko

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Katsuhira Tokushi Wood Block Print (1943)
Titled: Two Children by Farm House Door
 

Yuki Onba and Yukinko: The Snow Mother and the Snow Child

Once upon a time there were a group of Samurai guarding the borders of their town. They huddled around a fire at night to keep warm as they sat around the fire they told tales. One of the Samurai shared his fear of the Yuki Onba, and how he avoided the forest at night because she was believed to live there his fellow samurai laughed and teased the Samurai for believing in children's stories.

Eventually, one of the Samurai warriors had toYukinko Snow Children relieve himself and walked into the dark forest. As he walked further into the forest, he could see less and less of the other Samurai warriors or the lit fire. The forest was consumed in fog, and covered in white snow. The Samurai, thinking he had walked far enough stopped by a tree but as he gazed into the fog a dim figure seemed to appear. It was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, she was clutching a tiny little baby. The Samurai approached cautiously, and as he grew nearer he could hear the whimpering of the beautiful woman. She called out to him to please hold her tiny baby and protect him from the cold, the Samurai being moved to sympathy by the beautiful woman and her tears took the baby in his arms.

To his surprise the baby was colder than the snow around him and stuck fast to his arms. Minoru Owada Snow ChildHe could not put it down. The child also grew heavier and the warrior fell to his knees under its weight. The last thing he saw on Earth was the woman's tears fading and a broad smile growing across her face. The next morning, his companions found him frozen solid, clutching a giant icicle. But not all encounters with Yuki Onba ended so dreadfully.

Having heard of his fellow warriors demise a clever warrior got the better of Yuki Onba. Knowing fully well that if he declined to hold the child he would be pounded to death by Yuki Onba he knew he would have to accept the child. Shido Shouzan Snow Country Kid Taking the offered child into his arms, he took his short sword and held it between his teeth. As he held the child, he pulled its head closer to his dagger. Finally, when the sword was a hair's breadth from slicing the child, the trembling Yuki Onba asked the warrior to return her child. He did as requested, and returned it to its frozen mother, who wept with joy. The Yuki Onba was so grateful she showered the warrior with gold ad gifted him supernatural strength.

   
Fuka-gatsu Snow BootsSources:
Hayakumonogatari
Wikipedia Ubume

Variations of the Story and Meaning
Matthew Meyer.net Ubume
Weirdworm.com Ubume #2