10 Bloodthirsty Creatures From Global Folklore

8. Yama-uba

Yama Uba Feat
Brigham Young University [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

In Japan, an elderly lady may not be all she seems. According to local folklore, she may very well be a Yama-uba. Yama-uba are known for starting out human, but then being corrupted and transfigured into hideous creatures. To the world they appear as kindly old ladies with perhaps an out-of-place fang here or a horn there. But their true evil nature is only revealed once they lash out at their victims.

Yama-uba are said to be created when young women are exiled to the wilderness or old women are abandoned by their families. In both cases, the women give into their rage and let themselves be transformed into monsters who return to the humans to feed on them while saturating their environment with black magic. As soon as they return to their lonely cave in the wild, they transform themselves into young women, to trap unsuspecting travellers. Once the Yama-uba’s victim falls asleep she spins her hair around them like a cocoon and drags them into their now-giant mouths.


Estelle Thurtle has contributed 2 posts since joining in December 2019.