Asian Ethnology 78-2 | article *Yamauba* and *Oni*-Women Devouring and Helping Yamauba are Two Sides of the Same Coin

Noriko Reider

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yamaubaoni oni-woman mukashibanashi Noh duality

A _yamauba_ (mountain witch) is often portrayed as a mountain-dwelling old woman with a taste for human flesh. The appellation _yamauba_ came into existence in the medieval period. The _yamauba_'s predecessors are _oni_-like (demon-like) as well as mountain-deity–like beings. A _yamauba_ herself is considered a type of _oni_, and _yamauba_ and _oni_-woman are often used interchangeably in various texts. Although malevolent _yamauba_ in such folktales as _Kuwazu nyōbō_ (The Wife Who Didn't Eat), _Ushikata to yamauba_ (Ox-Cart Puller and Mountain Witch), and _Sanmai no ofuda_ (The Three Lucky Charms) are contrasted with the benevolent _yamauba_ that appear in _Ubakawa_ (Old Woman's Skin), _Komebuku Awabuku_ (Komebuku and Awabuku), and _Hanayo no hime_ (Blossom Princess), there is a complementary relationship between the good and evil _yamauba_. Their stories possess a complementary narrative format as well, and the duality of the _yamauba_ is simply two sides of the same coin. This article also addresses how and why the _yamauba_'s traits came into being. While the Noh play _Yamanba_ ("Yamauba") is an indispensable text in understanding the medieval _yamauba_ and beyond, I also consider the Noh play _Kurozuka_ (Black Mound) a critical text in the formation of the _yamauba_'s image.

A _yamauba_ (also _yamanba_ or _yamamba_), often translated as "mountain witch," is an enigmatic woman living in the mountains.[^1] The Baba Yaga of Russian folklore can be considered as a Western counterpart of the _yamauba_ figure.[^2] To many contemporary Japanese, the word _yamauba_ conjures up the image of an ugly old woman who lives in the mountains and devours humans. The distinctive features of the _yamauba_ are that she is often said to 1) be an anthropophagous woman living in the mountains, and 2) possess the duality of good and evil, bringing death and destruction as well as wealth and fertility (see [source:2218], 116; [source:2194], 345).Yanagita Kunio writes that the _yamauba_ described in _setsuwa_ (myths, legends, folktales, anecdotes, and the like)[^3] are atrocious and cannibalistic like _oni_-women (female demons, ogres, or monsters), and they are cruelly punished, but when _yamauba_ are talked about as local beings in legends—for instance, when a villager says "a _yamauba_ was living in a certain mountain a long time ago"—they are thought of fondly by the villagers, and one usually cannot relate these _yamauba_ to fearful monsters ([source:2235], 248; [source:2239], 167). That the _yamauba_ possess a good side, such as a mountain deity helping human beings, and an evil side, such as _oni_-women, is especially evident in _mukashibanashi_ (old tales or folktales) ([source:2246]58:565). When one looks at these characteristics, however, one notices that it is actually the _yamauba_'s most conspicuous trait, anthropophagy, that is the evil part of her duality. Because her cannibalism is by far her most famous or notorious trait, it stands by itself. This article discusses such traits and how the opposing dual characteristics can be reconciled. Special attention is paid to the _yamauba_ versus _oni_ or _oni_-women paradigm, because I believe the man-eating destructive _yamauba_ and the helping, gift-giving _yamauba_ are two sides of the same coin, and that the complementary nature of good and evil exists through the intermediary of _oni_. Further, this article addresses how and why the _yamauba_'s traits came into being and what makes the _yamauba_ distinct from _oni_-women. While the Noh play _Yamanba_ ("Yamauba," early fifteenth century) is an indispensable text for understanding the medieval _yamauba_ and beyond, I also consider the Noh play _Kurozuka_ (Black Mound, mid-fifteenth century) a critical text in the formation of the _yamauba_'s image. ### Yamauba versus oni and oni-women ### The first appearance of the term _yamauba_ in literary materials occurred in the Muromachi period (1336–1573) ([source:2178], 428; [source:2203], 300). Prior to that, the enigmatic witch-like female one encountered in the mountains was described as an _oni_ or _oni_-woman. Komatsu Kazuhiko explains that supernatural deities worshipped by Japanese are known as _kami_, while those that are not worshipped are called _yōkai_ (weird or mysterious creatures), and the _yōkai_ with a strong negative association are known as _oni_ (1979, 337). Likewise, Michael Dylan Foster writes that when malicious emotions, intentions, or actions are "antisociety and antimoral" they are associated with _oni_ (2015, 118). It is no surprise that such an abhorrent antisocial act as cannibalism is considered an _oni_'s major trait (see [source:2207], 14–29). An _oni_ can eat a person in a single gulp, and the phrase "oni hitokuchi" ("_oni_ in one gulp") more than suggests the _oni_'s cannibalistic inclinations (see [source:2142]). The sixth episode of _Ise monogatari_ (Tales of Ise, ca. 945) tells of a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman well above his social status. The man decides to elope with her. One night as they are running away a severe thunderstorm forces them to shelter in a ruined storehouse near the Akuta River. The man stands on guard at the entrance of the shelter, but the lady is eaten by an _oni_ in one gulp ([source:2246]12:117–18; [source:2190], 72–73). Stories of the _oni_'s cannibalism are frequently recorded in Japan's official history, too. According to _Nihon sandai jitsuroku_ (True Records of Three Generations in Japan, 901), on the seventeenth of the eighth month of 887 three beautiful women walking near Butokuden, one of the buildings in the imperial palace compound, see a good-looking man under a pine tree. The man approaches one of the women and begins talking with her. When the remaining two women look back in the direction of the pine tree, they are horrified to see the dismembered woman, limbs strewn on the ground, her head missing. At the time, people believed that an _oni_ transformed into the handsome man and ate the woman (for a text of the episode, see [source:2140], 464). In the story titled _Sanseru onna minamiyamashina ni yuki oni ni aite nigetaru koto_ (How A Woman with Child Went to South Yamashina, Encountered An _Oni_, and Escaped) of _Konjaku monogatarishū_ (Tales of Times Now Past, ca. 1120), a seemingly kind old woman in the mountains turns out to be an _oni_ who attempted to eat a newborn baby. As the appellation _yamauba_ was not yet coined in the twelfth century, any anthropophagous being regardless of sex was simply called an _oni_. I believe that the _yamauba_ inherited this anthropophagous nature of the _oni_ when the term _yamauba_ emerged. Although there are many overlapping qualities between the _yamauba_ and _oni_-woman, they are not exactly the same. Michael Dylan Foster explains: > The word _yamamba_ (or _yamauba_) does not seem to appear in Japanese texts until the Muromachi period; before that, such witchlike women were generally portrayed as female oni. … That said, it is important not to conflate all female demon figures. The female oni is often characterized by her jealous rage – in fact, this rage is sometimes the very thing that turns a regular woman into a demon in the first place. This is, for example, one characteristic of the demonic female _hannya_ mask used in many a Noh play. Akin to male oni, the female oni is distinguished by horns sprouting from her head. In contrast, most descriptions of yamamba do not include horns; nor generally is her monstrousness attributed to jealousy or sexual passion. (2015, 147) It is quite true though, that in a number of folktales _oni_-women do not express jealousy or anger. The _yamauba_ portrayed in _Hanayo no hime_ (Blossom Princess, ca. late sixteenth or early seventeenth century) has horns on her head, and so have _yamauba_ in some other literary works. I would say that the major differences are that the _yamauba_'s topos is the mountains ([source:2193], 13), whereas a female _oni_ does not require any mountainous setting—it could be a field, village, city, or palace. Further, _yamauba_ are always female whereas an _oni_-woman, on the other hand, could be a transformed male _oni_. This requires one to consider an _oni_'s gender. In ancient times _oni_ were invisible. In early Onmyōdō (the way of yin-yang),[^4]the word _oni_ referred specifically to invisible evil spirits that caused human infirmity ([source:2176], 3). Takahashi Masaaki identifies an _oni_ as a deity that causes epidemics (1992, 4), while Kumasegawa Kyōko interprets _oni_ as an individual and/or societal shadow (1989, 204). The character to express _oni_ in Chinese (鬼) means invisible soul or spirit of the dead, both ancestral and evil. According to _Wamyō ruijushō_ (ca. 930s), the first Japanese-language dictionary, the word _oni_ is explained as a corruption of the reading of the character _on_ (隠, hiding), "hiding behind things, not wishing to appear… a soul or spirit of the dead" ([source:2217], 41).[^5]Peter Knecht notes that the expression _kokoro no oni_ ("_oni_ in one's heart"), used in Heian (794–1185) court literature, shows one aspect of the multifaceted _oni_: > In this case the oni serves to give concrete form to an otherwise hard to express and invisible disposition in one's mind, namely the dark and evil side of one's heart, such as evil or mischievous thoughts and feelings toward fellow humans. This kind of oni is said to hide in a dark corner of the heart and to be difficult to control. However, in consequence of an impetus from outside it may be thrown into consciousness and its noxious nature may show itself. (2010, xv) Thus, _oni_, an invisible entity, was not particularly related to any gender, and I assume the Japanese associated the negative qualities they attributed to _oni_—rage, murderous thoughts and actions, cold-bloodedness, etc.,—without any specific gender, until they were manifested in a character. But now _oni_ are popularly portrayed as masculine. I believe that this assumption regarding gender comes primarily from the pictorial representation of _oni_s' appearance. More often than not, _oni_ are depicted with muscular bodies and are scantily clad, wearing a loincloth of fresh tiger skin. Their bare chest is without breasts. _Oni_ arehairy and customarily portrayed with one or more horns protruding from their scalps. They sometimes have a third eye in the center of their forehead, and they vary in skin color, most commonly black, red, blue, or yellow. They often have large mouths with conspicuous canine teeth. According to Hayashi Shizuyo, who studied the sex of _oni_ in the series _Yomigatari_ (Reading Aloud [Old Tales], 2004–05; hereafter _Yomigatari_)[^6], in the majority of cases the images of _oni_ that appear in _Yomigatari_ are male, and when female _oni_ appear in these stories they all appear with an age signifier such as _oni-baba_, _oni-banba_, or _oni-basa_ (all meaning old _oni_-woman or _oni_-hag) (2012, 78). Hayashi notes that all the age signifiers indicate oldness and no such signifiers are attached to male _oni_. One reason, Hayashi surmises, that all the _oni_-women in _Yomigatari_ are described as old could be that when a woman becomes old, her appearance might resemble a frightening (male) _oni_ (2012, 79). Further, while the word _oni_ stands by itself without any suffix when referring to a male image, when an _oni_ is female the word "woman" or "female" is added, as seen in the examples _oni_-woman or _oni_-baba. In other words, as female-_oni_ or _oni_-woman suggests, in order for the creature to be perceived as female for sure, one has to add the term woman or female to the appellation _oni_. This usage may be compared to the use of the word "man" when referring to mankind as a whole. In the aforementioned story titled _Sanseru onna minamiyamashina ni yuki oni ni aite nigetaru koto_ of _Konjaku monogatarishū_, the old woman was written simply as an _oni_—not an _oni_-woman. A female _oni_ could be a male _oni_ transformed—as often appears in literary sources. Compared with the ambiguous gender of _oni_ or _oni_-women, _yamauba_ are and have always been female. ### Cannibalism: The destructive side of yamauba duality ### Cannibalism, a major representative image of the _yamauba_, is the demonic side of their dual nature. The witch in "Hansel and Gretel," a fairytale of German origin, is perhaps a Western counterpart. Cannibalism is probably the strongest element connecting the _yamauba_ to _oni_, or one may say the strongest element continuing from the _oni_ to _yamauba_. Indeed, in folktaleswhere the _yamauba_ is perceived as a man-eater, the appellations _oni-baba_ or _oni_ are used interchangeably with _yamauba_ for the main character. Since the cannibalistic _yamauba_ character is almost always found in folktales, I list below the three major folktale story types in which cannibalistic _yamauba_ appear and examine which name—_yamauba_, _oni -baba_, or _oni_—is most often used for the anthropophagous character. For the statistics about the use of names in these stories, I have used Seki Keigo's _Nihon mukashibanashi taisei_ (Complete Works of Japanese Folktales, hereafter [source:2244], 1978–80)_._ #### Kuwazu nyōbō (The Wife Who Doesn't Eat) #### The folktale _Kuwazu nyōbō_, which exists all over Japan, is often used as an exemplar of the human-eating _yamauba_ ([source:2233], 113–17; [source:2244]6:182–225; [source:2187], 110–14; [source:2210], 45). The story opens with the mutterings of a man to himself (in some versions he mutters to a friend) about how he wants a wife who does not eat. Soon after he utters this wishful thinking, a beautiful young woman appears at his house and declares that since she does not eat, she would like to be his wife. The man takes her in, and she becomes his wife. But this seemingly ideal woman turns out to be a monstrous woman who has a second mouth at the back of her head. While she does not eat anything when the man is at home, as soon as he goes out she prepares food for herself and eats ravenously with this mouth on the back of her head. When the man finds out the truth, she reveals her true _yamauba_ appearance. She throws him into a tub, carries the tub on her head, and runs toward the mountains. The man narrowly escapes from the _yamauba_ and hides himself in mugwort and iris. The _yamauba_ looks for the man and finds him. But she cannot reach him, saying that mugwort and iris are poisonous to her. The man then throws mugwort and iris at the _yamauba_ whereupon she dies. It is understood that this story was widely known by the early modern period. In _Kokon hyakumonogatari hyōban_ (An Evaluation of One Hundred Strange and Weird Tales of Past and Present, 1686)[^7]written by Yamaoka Genrin (1631–72), a well-known intellectual of his day, his student asks: "people say, 'a yamauba takes human life, and there are stories about a yamauba transforming herself into a wife.' Is she a real woman?" ([source:2229], 46). The story must have roused the seventeenth- century urban folks' curiosity. Although _Kuwazu nyōbō_ is the representative story depicting _yamauba_, _oni_ appear as the main character of a story more frequently than _yamauba_. _Oni_ appear in twenty-eight stories of this type, while _yamauba_ appear in eighteen. Nine stories feature an _oni-baba_ as the protagonist. Therefore, there are thirty-seven stories in which the anthropophagous character is an _oni_ (either _oni_ or _oni-baba_), in contrast to eighteen where the character is a _yamauba_. _Kuwazu nyōbō_ is fascinating in that the seemingly ideal wife becomes demonic after her husband sees her secret, i.e., her unsightly appearance, reminding one of the story of Izanagi encountering Izanami in the nether land: In Japan's creation myth in the _Kojiki_ (Ancient Matters, compiled in 712), after the death of Izanami, the female creator of Japan, Izanagi, her husband and male counterpart, misses her so much that he goes to the underworld to retrieve her. But Izanami says that she has already eaten the food from that realm, implying that it would be difficult for her to return easily to the living world. The food produced in the other world has the power to make one stay in that world, so she tells him to wait and not to look. The taboo against looking is a familiar folkloric motif—unable to resist temptation, a protagonist often breaks a promise not to look. Izanagi breaks his promise, and when he looks at Izanami she is ugly, with maggots squirming and eight thunder deities growing around her entire body. Izanami is furious because he broke the promise/taboo and looked at her changed appearance; she attacks him, saying that he has caused her "undying shame." Terrified, Izanagi quickly makes his way back to this world, whereupon Izanami dispatches Yomotsu-shikome (literally, "ugly woman in the underworld") from the underworld to avenge her shame ([source:2246]1:45–47; [source:2205], 61–64). Citing eighteenth-century Japanese Nativist scholar Motoori Norinaga (1730–1801), Ishibashi Gaha considers Yomotsu-shikome as an origin of the Japanese _oni_ (1998, 4). This precursor of Japanese _oni_ was a female born from a goddess who felt shame when her unsightly appearance was revealed and who attacked her husband without concern for her own appearance (i.e., shamelessly). Although it is not described in the folktales, the wife who does not eat may have felt undying shame when she found out that her husband saw her unsightly form. If so, this wife-_yamauba_ shares the same ancestor as the _oni_. After all, a major root of the _yamauba_ are _oni_. Indeed, Yamagami Izumo asserts that from the mythological point of view, Izanami is the prototype of _yamauba_ duality, and the _yamauba_ was developed and dramatized from this prototype (2000, 383; see also [source:2147]). While the folktale of _Kuwazu nyōbo_ teaches moral lessons such as "be careful what you wish for" or "appearances can be deceptive," Fujishiro Yumiko connects the protagonist of _Kuwazu nyōbō_, who is an ideal wife in front of her husband but who turns out to have a hidden enormous appetite, with an eating disorder, especially bulimia nervosa (2015, 55–63). Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and compensatory self-induced vomiting. At any given point in time, 1% of young women have bulimia nervosa ([source:2198]). On the other hand, Yamaguchi Motoko finds the _yamauba_ figure of _Kuwazu nyōbō_ in many young female patients of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by weight loss, fear of gaining weight, and food restriction (2009, 85–88). This folktale encompasses the underlying desire of women to look beautiful in the public eye—to look pleasant and agreeable to men more than to women perhaps—and be accepted by the public—both men and women, but again perhaps men in particular. Pressure on the female to make her appearance acceptable to the male seems to be reflected in the tale. #### Ushikata to yamauba (Ox-Cart Puller and Yamauba) #### Another famous folktale that underscores the cannibalistic aspect of _yamauba_ is _Ushikata to yamauba_. In this tale, a _yamauba_ attempts to devour anything she can obtain. Unlike the protagonist of _Kuwazu nyōbō_, who tries to hide her large appetite from her husband, from the very beginning of the story the _yamauba_ in _Ushikata to yamauba_ attempts to openly devour anything she can obtain. The _yamauba_ first approaches a young man who is carrying fish in his ox-cart on his way back to his village. She demands fish from the young man and then demands the ox. After devouring the ox, she sets her sights on eating the man. He flees from her and soon comes upon a lone house in the woods that turns out to be the _yamauba_'s dwelling. But with the help of a young woman who lives there, he vanquishes the _yamauba_ ([source:2244]6:158–81; [source:2233], 109–13; [source:2187], 107–10; [source:2210], 44). According to _Nihon mukashibanashi taisei_, forty-seven stories of this type feature the _yamauba_ as a devouring character, compared to twenty with _oni-baba_. The _oni_ accounts for twelve stories. Here again, the terms _yamauba_ and _oni-baba_ or _oni_ are used interchangeably. The _yamauba_ in both _Kuwazu nyōbō_ and _Ushikata to yamauba_ has an enormous appetite. Meera Viswanathan writes, "The figure of a man-eating female demon is peculiar neither to Japan nor to premodern narratives. … The delineation of these ravenous figures suggests an overarching preoccupation with the danger posed by female consumption as well as the need to defuse the threat, leading us to question whether the provenance of such man-eaters, ironically, is rather in the realm of male anxieties about castration than simply in female notions of resistance" (1996, 242–43). This appetite could also imply memories of famine in villages. In one _Kuwazu nyōbō_ story from Okayama prefecture, a peasant wants a wife but, because of the continuous famine, he wishes for a wife who eats nothing ([source:2244] 6:197). The enormous appetite could also suggest a suppressed female desire for a plethora of food. Appetite is a fundamental biological desire, but in Japan, too great an appetite—especially for women—is frowned upon in public or private, in villages or cities. The _yamauba_ who chases after her prey without shame or concern with appearances spurns standard societal expectations. #### Sanmai no ofuda (The Three Magic Charms) #### Another famous story about a human-eating character is _Sanmai no ofuda_. The old _bonze_ (Buddhist monk) in a mountain temple drives his mischievous novice away from the temple to teach him a lesson. Before the boy leaves, the _bonze_ gives him three charms that will protect the boy in case of dire need. The novice leaves the temple and starts to pick nuts on the mountain, where an old woman appears and invites him to her house. During the night the novice sees the woman transforming into a monstrous shape, and she tries to eat him. He escapes from her house using the magic charms; each time the novice uses a charm, it delays the _yamauba_ in her chase, but the _yamauba_ eventually reaches the temple. When she is about to enter the temple the _bonze_ shuts the gate, crushing and killing the _yamauba_. In some stories, when the _yamauba_ reaches the temple, she demands that the _bonze_ hand over the novice, and the _bonze_ challenges the _yamauba_ to a disguise contest. She scoffs at the challenge and turns into a bean, whereupon the master eats the bean-_yamauba_ ([source:2244] 6:132–54; [source:2210], 43). Among the stories of this type, thirty-six stories have an _oni-baba_ for the anthropophagous character compared to _yamauba_ in fourteen stories, old woman in thirteen stories, and _oni_ in eleven stories. I should note that in the story printed in Yanagita's _Nippon no mukashibanashi kaiteiban_, the cannibalistic being is called _yamauba_ until the very end, when it suddenly changes to _oni-baba_ (1960, 67). In this particular tale, collected from Akita prefecture, the _yamauba_ pretends to be the novice's aunt and invites him to her house. In spite of the old _bonze_'s warning, the novice goes to the woman's house. The aunt tells the novice to sleep in bed until she fixes a feast for him. He follows her instructions but after a while he peeks into her room, where he finds his aunt has turned into a _yamauba_, who sharpens her butcher's knife beside a big boiling kettle. He barely escapes with the charms. Back at the mountain temple, the _bonze_ challenges the _yamauba_ who comes after the novice to a shape-shifting contest. The _yamauba_ changes into bean-paste whereupon the _bonze_ eats her. But the _yamauba_ inside the _bonze_'s stomach hurts him so badly he breaks wind, and out comes the _yamauba_. She then goes back to the mountain (1960, 65–67; English translation in [source:2232], 58–60). The interchangeability between _yamauba_ and _oni_ is remarkable. This pattern of the novice throwing a charm, and each charm delaying the _yamauba_'s chase after him until he barely reaches the safe zone, parallels Izanagi's escape from the underworld mentioned earlier. To make it back to this world, Izanagi throws his personal belongings to delay his chasers, Yomotsu-shikome and the thunder gods. First, he unties the black vine securing his hair and throws it down, whereupon it immediately bears grapes. While Yomotsu-shikome eats the grapes, Izanagi continues his run. When Yomotsu-shikome is catching up with him, Izanagi throws his comb, which turns into bamboo shoots. While Yomotsu-shikome eats the bamboo shoots, he runs. Again, the roots of the _yamauba_ can be found in Yomotsu-shikome or Izanami, who is also a root of the _oni_. ### Helper and fortune giver: The positive side of yamauba duality ### While the terrifying aspect of the _yamauba_ is highlighted in the aforementioned stories, she can also be a helper and can bring good fortune, like Frau Holle of the Brothers Grimm. This is the positive side of _yamauba_ duality. The _yamauba_'s positive side may also have come from the _oni_'s nature as a bringer of wealth. The _oni_ can be a bringer of fortune, through prized tools such as a wish-granting mallet that can produce any material (see [source:2126]; [source:2207]). But when she is a helper of human beings or bringing good fortune to humans, none of the _oni_-related appellations—_oni-baba_, _oni_-woman, or _oni_—are used to describe her. Even so, the _yamauba_ is not entirely disconnected from the _oni_. She often lives in an _oni_'s house. The following two types of stories, _Komebuku Awabuku_ and _Ubakawa_, are frequently cited as exemplar stories to foreground the positive side of the _yamauba_. #### Komebuku Awabuku (Komebuku and Awabuku) #### _Komebuku Awabuku_ is a stepdaughter story. In _Komebuku Awabuku_ the mother gives a bag with holes to her stepdaughter, named Komebuku, and a good bag to her real daughter, named Awabuku, and sends them to the mountains to fill their bags with chestnuts. The sun sets, and the two daughters lose their way. They find a house in the mountains that turns out to be a _yamauba_'s house. The _yamauba_ reluctantly lets them in. She tells them to hide because it is an _oni_'s residence, thereby saving their lives from the _oni_. She also asks them to take huge lice off her head. Komebuku takes off the lice, but Awabuku does not. When they leave the house, she gives Komebuku a treasure box and Awabuku some roasted beans. The mother takes Awabuku to a theatrical play and has the stepdaughter stay at home to perform tasks such as carrying water. But with the help of a traveling priest and a sparrow, she finishes the tasks and goes to the play. A young man who sees Komebuku at the play proposes marriage to her. Her stepmother tries to procure him for her real daughter, but the young man marries the stepdaughter. The real daughter wants to be married, and her mother goes to seek a suitor, carrying her daughter in a mortar. They fall into a stream and turn into mud snails ([source:2244] 5:86–111; [source:2210], 111; [source:2187], 44–46). Among stories of the _Komebuku Awabuku_ type printed in NMT, seventeen stories designate a _yamauba_ as the character who gives treasures and clothes to the good child. Seven of the stories state that the helper is an old woman; in four of these seven, the old woman lives in an _oni_'s house and hides the sisters from the _oni_. The terms _oni-baba_ or _oni_ are not used to describe this helper. It should be noted that in giving good fortune, the _yamauba_ is not indiscriminate. She is selective, giving treasures only to those who deserve them. She tests the character with some chores first. If one is good to the _yamauba_, the _yamauba_ rewards him or her accordingly. This selective behavior on the part of the _yamauba_ satisfies the audience's sense of justice. #### Ubakawa (Old Woman's Skin) #### The _Ubakawa_-type stories are also stepdaughter stories. A stepmother hates her stepdaughter and drives her away. The heroine, who is to be married to a serpent bridegroom, flees from him. The girl finds a solitary house in the mountains in which an old woman lives. The old woman says it is an _oni_'s house and hides the heroine from the _oni_. This old woman, a _yamauba_, takes pity on her and gives her an _ubakawa_ (literally "an old woman's skin"), which makes the wearer appear dirty or old. The girl wears the _ubakawa_ and is employed in a rich man's house as an old kitchen maid. The rich man's son catches a glimpse of her in her natural form, when she is in her room alone. He becomes sick. A fortune-teller tells the rich man that his son's illness is caused by his love for a certain woman in his house. All the women in the house are taken before the son one by one to offer tea or medicine to him. When he sees the heroine in the _ubakawa_, he smiles at her and takes a drink from the cup she offers him. She takes off the _ubakawa_ and becomes the son's wife ([source:2187], 48–49; [source:2244] 5:173–87; [source:2210], 114–15). Among the stories of the _Ubakawa_ type, the old woman turns out to be a frog saved by the heroine's father in eighteen stories. Only two stories designate the helper as a _yamauba_. Again, the terms _oni-baba_ or _oni_ are not used for the helper. In many stories, as in _Komubuku Awabuku_, the helper lives in an _oni_'s house, but she is not considered an _oni_ herself. She is simply referred to as an old woman who lives in an _oni_'s residence. ### Devouring and helping _yamauba_: Two sides of the same coin ### While terrifying _yamauba_ in such folktales as _Kuwazu nyōbō_ are often contrasted with the helping _yamauba_ that appear in _Ubakawa_ and _Komebuku Awabuku_, they are actually two sides of the same coin, not only through their connection with the _oni_ but also through their complementary narrative format. In all three of the frightening tales, it is the _yamauba_ who seeks out and approaches her prey in the open—somewhere outside her house—and thus she is proactive. In _Kuwazu nyōbō_, the _yamauba_ appears in front of the man outside his house, saying specifically that she wants to be his wife because she does not eat. The _yamauba_ in _Ushikata to yamauba_ first talks to the ox-cart puller who is on his way back to his village. In _Sanmai no ofuda_ the _yamauba_ shows up before the acolyte on a mountain, introducing herself as the novice's aunt. On the other hand, in both _Komebuku Awabuku_ and _Ubakawa_ it is the daughter (or daughters) that approach the _yamauba_, who is in her own private space—her own house in the mountains. The girl who loses her way seeks a night's lodging at a lone house, a _yamauba_'s residence. Inside the house, the _yamauba_ responds to the girl's request; thus the _yamauba_ is reactive. While the anthropophagous _yamauba_ tries to eat humans, the helping _yamauba_ saves the main character from the devouring co-habitant _oni_. The cannibalistic _yamauba_ is one side of the coin and the helping _yamauba_ is the other side. One interpretation of this finding is that the _yamauba_ is benevolent as long as she stays in her house in the mountains, but she becomes an evil _oni_ when she becomes proactive and ventures out to seek more food or to take food away from men. One of the major reasons for the mixture of yamauba, _oni_, and _oni_-women lies in the _yamauba_'s _oni_ roots, but the influence of patriarchy, in particular the Confucian-style patriarchy imported from China, is certainly perceivable. The appearance of the term _yamauba_ in the Muromachi period corresponds to the time of the spreading of the patriarchal household system and the declining status of women. The helping side of _yamauba_ seems more prevalent in other areas of literature such as _otogizōshi_ (companion tales), performing arts, and in many legends. It is important to note that even when she is helpful, the _yamauba_'s association with _oni_ is still strong and she is often visually portrayed as _oni_-like, as explained below. ### Otogizōshi, Hanayo no hime (Blossom Princess) ### _Hanayo no hime_, an _otogizōshi_ tale, is known for its strong folkloric elements associated with _Komebuku Awabuku_, _Ubakawa_, and other folk tales (see [source:2209], essay 6). The _yamauba_ character is a helper just like the _yamauba_ in _Komebuku Awabuku_ and _Ubakawa_, and the narrative pattern is the same: The _yamauba_ of _Hanayo no hime_ lives in a cave deep in the mountains, and the good heroine Blossom Princess, who is treated cruelly by her stepmother, comes to the _yamauba_'s dwelling at night. The _yamauba_'s cave is also an _oni_'s residence, and she tells the heroine that her husband is an _oni_. She hides Blossom Princess from her _oni_-husband so that the princess is not eaten. The _yamauba_ gives Blossom Princess directions about where to go and treasures that save her at a critical moment. The _yamauba_ never calls herself an _oni_, and while the narrator does not call her an _oni_ either, she is treated like an _oni_ by the main characters (and by the author[s] and readers). A popular belief dictates that a religious service should be held for the departed souls of one's ancestors so that these ancestors will protect their descendants. On the other hand, unattended souls are thought to roam in this world to do harm to people as _oni_. Takahashi Mariko notes that the _yamauba_ in _Hanayo no hime_ is considered an _oni_ who does not have anyone who prays for her and can only rest in peace for the first time after a memorial service is held for her by the family of Blossom Princess (1975, 30; see also [source:2237]). It is significant that the _yamauba_'s physical features resemble an _oni_; the _yamauba_ is "fearful-looking." Blossom Princess reacts tearfully when she first meets the _yamauba_ precisely because of the _yamauba_'s terrifying appearance. The _yamauba_ had "a square face. Her eyes were sunk deep into her head but still her eyeballs protruded. She had a big mouth, and the fangs from her lower jaw almost touched the edges of her nose. That nose resembled a bird's beak and her forehead was wrinkled up; her hair looked as though she had recently worn a bowl on her head. … On her skull were fourteen or fifteen small horn-like bumps" ([source:2240], 530–31; [source:2209], 181, 183). Blossom Princess believes from her appearance that the _yamauba_ is an _oni_. It is the _yamauba_'s _oni_-like appearance, and the cannibalism that is associated with _oni_, that make the princess feel hopeless and in despair. One may say the narrator or the persona of the author(s), and by extension the readers of that time, equated _yamauba_ with _oni_ or with an _oni_-like appearance. ### The Noh play _Yamanba_: A starting point ### The reaction of Blossom Princess when she first sees the _yamauba_—fear and despair—is exactly the same as that of the entertainer named Hyakuma Yamanba in the Noh play _Yamanba_ ([source:2246] 59:564–82; [source:2131], 207–25), one of the earliest texts that uses the term _yamauba_ (_yamanba_). The text reveals a helping (and self-reflective) _yamauba_ in spite of her scary looks and shows how deeply the image of _yamauba_ is interwoven with that of _oni_. Indeed, I believe this Noh text, whose authorship is generally attributed to Zeami (1363–1443), is a fundamental and extremely influential literary text in creating the image of _yamauba_. The synopsis of the play goes as follows: In the first act, Hyakuma Yamanba (hereafter Hyakuma), an entertainer who became famous in the capital by impersonating a _yamanba_ dance, is traveling to Zenkōji temple with her attendants. On their way through the mountains, the sky suddenly becomes as dark as night and Yamanba (the _mae_-_shite_ or protagonist of the first act; I use Yamanba with capital "Y" in this form when referring to the protagonist) appears disguised as an old woman. Yamanba in the first act is proactive, approaching Hyakuma's troupe in an open space. She offers them lodging for the night and requests that Hyakuma perform the _yamanba_ song. Yamanba thinks that Hyakuma should pay tribute to her, as the source of the entertainer's fame from her eponymous song, and pray for Yamanba's salvation with the song and dance.[^8]Saying that she is Yamanba she disappears, marking the end of the first act. During the interlude, daylight returns. Hyakuma's attendant asks a villager of the place what a _yamanba_ is, but he has no clue. In the second act, Yamanba (the _nochi-shite_ or protagonist of the second act wearing a _yamanba_ mask) appears at night in her true form. Yamanba dances, describing her mountain rounds in every season, invisibly helping humans, and she disappears. #### Yamanba's Oni Image #### When Hyakuma sees Yamanba in her true form, she can see "a thicket of snowy brambles for hair, with eyes that sparkle like stars, and a face that's painted red—, a demon gargoyle crouching at the eaves" ([source:2131], 218; [source:2246] 59:576). Hyakuma is petrified that she will be devoured like the lady in the aforementioned _Ise monogatari_. The terrifying appearance of Yamanba causes Hyakuma to view Yamanba as an _oni_ who devours humans, as in this old story. The Noh _yamanba_ mask and wig worn by the lead actor correspond to this description. _Yamanba_ was the fourth most frequently performed piece during the period between 1429 and 1600 ([source:2199], 1314). Its popularity suggests that the visual image of the _yamauba_ it portrays could very well have influenced the general image of the _yamauba_ in the medieval period (1185–1600).[^9] From the villager's nonsensical talk about the origins of _yamanba_ it is apparent that no one knew exactly what a _yamauba_ looked like at this time. When asked by Yamanba whether Hyakuma's attendant has any idea what the true _yamanba_ is like, he speculates, based on Hyakuma's dance, that _yamanba_ is "a demoness [_kijo_] dwelling in the mountains." This is perhaps how Hyakuma, the narrator, and people at the time thought of _yamauba_—as in the case of the _yamauba_ in _Hanayo no hime_. In response, Yamanba asks, "Isn't a demoness a female demon [_onna no oni_]? Well, whether demon or human, if you're talking about a woman who lives in the mountains, doesn't that fit my situation?" The chorus sings, "bound to fate, clouds of delusion, like bits of dust, mount up to become Yamamba," who is "a demoness in form" [_kijo ga arisama_] ([source:2131], 213, 225; [source:2246] 59:570, 581). Yamanba's intense thoughts to manifest herself in a tangible form cause her to appear in the form of an _oni_-woman. Yamanba never calls herself an _oni_-woman, though she resembles one. While Yamanba is resigned to being called an _oni_-woman, she emphasizes the fact that her relationship with nature and her residence in the mountains are more important than her imagined or associated status. The Noh play _Yamanba_ is layered with and shrouded in religious and philosophical subtexts such as "good and evil are not two; right and wrong are the same" ([source:2131], 207). The core concept of the play is the transcendental philosophy of non-dualism epitomized in the _Hannya shingyō_ (_Heart Sutra_), perhaps the best-known Buddhist text. From the viewpoint of the statement that "form is nothing other than emptiness, emptiness is nothing other than form" (_shikisoku zekū, kūsoku zeshiki_), the existence of buddhas, human beings, and _yamauba_ is miniscule within the vastness of time and space ([source:2127], 284–85). The protagonist sings, "Let the vibrant strains of your music and dance serve as a Buddhist sacrament for then I, too, will escape from transmigration and return to the blessed state of enlightenment" ([source:2131], 213; [source:2245] 59:571). This _yamauba_, created perhaps by Zeami using the philosophy of contemporary intellectuals and the zeitgeist, is a seeker of enlightenment and would wander the mountains until her delusions ceased to exist, in order to escape the wheel of reincarnation. Wakita Haruko comments that the Noh play _Yamanba_ is crisp and has the feel of deep mountain valleys; the protagonist is a mountain spirit and reflects what a city dweller would consider as the incarnation of a mountain spirit (2002, 45). Wakita notes that elements of Yanagita's theory of the _yamauba_'s origins discussed earlier naturally existed in the medieval period as well, and that some of these elements became the basis of the Noh play _Yamanba_. From the diction of the play, Wakita interprets Yamanba as an _oni_-spirit (_reiki_), a creature that a human becomes after death. Yamanba's painful mountain rounds resemble the karma of human beings, who reincarnate through the six realms. Yamanba thinks that she will be able to escape from the rounds of reincarnation and go to a better place if Hyakuma performs a memorial service for her by means of her memorable dance ([source:2223], 46). Yamanba encompasses the spirits of the dead in the mountains, which is similar to the _yamauba_ character in _Hanayo no hime_ and is in tune with the concept that contemporary Japanese had about mountains. Monica Bethe and Karen Brazell describe, "Yamamba is depicted wandering through the hills, communing with nature, and savoring the beauty of the changing seasons; indeed she might be seen as Nature itself" (1978, 8–9). #### Yamanba Helping Humans #### Yamanba cares about her image and tries to counter her dark image by stressing her positive side—for example, she helps humans with carrying wood and weaving. Yamanba recites: "At other times, where weaving girls work looms, she enters the window, a warbler in willows winding threads, or she places herself in spinning sheds to help humans, and yet women whisper – it is an invisible demon they see" ([source:2131], 223; [source:2245] 59:580). Yamanba laments that she only tries to help people (_hito o tasukuru waza o nomi_), but people say that they cannot see her because she is an invisible _oni_, referring to the preface of _Kokinshū_ (A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern), which states that poetry "stirs the feelings of deities and demons invisible to the eye" ([source:2131], 223n25; [source:2245] 11:17). The folk belief that _yamauba_ took part in weaving and spinning may have already existed and been reflected in the Noh play, or it is also possible that the _yamauba_'s association with weaving originated in the play _Yamanba_ in order to give a positive impression of _yamauba_. In either case, I speculate that this image was strengthened through another Noh text titled _Kurozuka_. ### The Noh play Kurozuka (Adachigahara): ### The crossroads of Yamauba and Oni-women ### While Yamanba laments her image as an _oni_, the main character of the Noh play entitled _Kurozuka_ is a full-fledged _oni_-woman possessing all the elements of _yamauba_ described above. The play appears with different titles; it is called _Kurozuka_ by the Hōshō, Konparu, Kongō, and Kita schools of Noh, and is known as _Adachigahara_ (Adachi Moor) by the Kanze school. The playwright is not known, but according to Baba Akiko, it could be either Konparu Zenchiku (1405–70), Zeami's son-in-law who inherited Zeami's subtle and allusive style, or Zeami himself (1988, 258). Although the term _yamauba_ does not appear, I believe _Kurozuka_ is a critical text in that it stands at the crux of the _yamauba_, _oni_-women, and _oni_ paradigm. The kind and helpful image of _yamauba_ described in _Komebuku Awabuku_, _Ubakawa_, and _Hanayo no hime_ is revealed in the woman played by the protagonist of the first act. The _oni_-woman performed by the protagonist in the second act, who chases after the _yamabushi_ (mountain ascetics or practitioners of Shugendō), corresponds to the anthropophagous _yamauba_ who runs after her prey in _Kuwazu nyōbō_, _Ushikata to yamauba_, and _Sanmai no ofuda_. _Kurozuka_, reflecting various elements from the Noh play _Yamanba_, represents a crossroads where the elements and images of _yamauba_ and _oni_-women are jumbled together and are simultaneously disseminated, influencing various genres. The synopsis of _Kurozuka_ is as follows: In the first act, a party of _yamabushi_ ask for a night's lodging at a lone house in Adachigahara ([source:2245] 59:459–73; [source:2245] 57:502–3; [source:2212], 307–35).[^10] The owner of the house, an _oni_-woman in the form of an old woman, reluctantly accedes to their request. The chief _yamabushi_ notices a spinning wheel in her hut and asks the old woman what it is. Requested by the priest to demonstrate how it works, she starts to turn the spinning wheel. She then tells the _yamabushi_ group not to look in one room of her house and leaves for the mountain to get firewood for them. During the interlude, the _yamabushi_'s servant cannot resist the temptation to look, opens the door, and finds piles of corpses inside. The party realizes that they are staying in the _oni_'s house that is rumored to exist in the region. In the second act, as the troupe of _yamabushi_ flee the _oni_-woman's house, the _oni_-woman—now with her true appearance—runs after them, only to be chased away by the power of the _yamabushi_'s incantation. Kurozuka (Adachigahara), Oni, and Women The title of the play, Kurozuka or Adachigahara, is the name of a place in present-day Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan. The place name and its association with _oni_ comes from a poem written by Taira no Kanemori (?–990), one of the Thirty-Six Great Poets and a member of the imperial family who became a subject of the state around 950 ([source:2185], 85): > _Michinoku no_ In Michinoku > > _Adachi no hara no_ On the moors of Adachi > > _Kurozuka ni_ Within the Black Mound > > _Oni komoreri to_ Some demons live in hiding > > _Iu wa makoto ka_ They say, but can this be true? > > ([source:2212], 301) This poem appears in the fifty-eighth tale of the _Yamato monogatari_ (Tales of Yamato, ca. mid-tenth century) ([source:2246]12:290–91; [source:2213], 31–33). Kanemori sent this poem to the daughters of the son of Prince Sadamoto (?–910), the third son of Emperor Seiwa. The same poem also appears as number 559 in the _Shūi wakashū_ or _Shūishū_ (A Collection of Rescued Japanese Poetry, ca. 1005), and according to _Shūishū_, the poem was sent to the sisters of Minamoto no Shigeyuki (?–1000), another great poet and a grandson of Prince Sadamoto ([source:2245] 7:160; Fujiwara 1995, 1:136). In either case, the young women, the granddaughters of imperial prince Sadamoto, were living in Kurozuka of Adachi Moor in Michinoku Province. In the poem, Kanemori playfully refers to the daughters as _oni_. An example of describing a woman as an _oni_ also appears in the "Broom Tree" chapter of _Genji monogatari_ (The Tale of Genji, ca. 1010). When the Aide of Ceremonial (Tō Shikibu no jō) talks about an educated woman with whom he once had a love affair, the Secretary Captain (Tō no Chūjō) comments, "There cannot be such a woman! You might as well have made friends with a demon (_oni_). It is too weird!" (Murasaki 2001, 34; [source:2245] 20:88). Baba Akiko points out the maxim expressed in the story _Mushi mezuru himegimi_ (The Lady Who Admired Vermin), which appears in _Tsutsumi chūnagon monogatari_ (The Riverside Counselor's Stories, mid-eleventh to early twelfth century): "Devils [_oni_] and women are better invisible to the eyes of mankind" (Backus 1985, 55; [source:2245] 17:409). As mentioned earlier, in the ancient period, _oni_ were thought of as invisible. Baba writes that Taira no Kanemori addressed Minamoto no Shigeyuki's sisters as _oni_ with affection, lament, and the resignation of those—like Kanemori himself—who were not supposed to be hidden or buried by society if the time was right (1988, 27). Here there is no suggestion of anthropophagy being attached to the ladies. For the almost 500 years between the time this poem was composed and the appearance of _Kurozuka_, no legends of _oni_-women in Adachigahara existed in the history of literature ([source:2185], 83). Rendering a woman as a real _oni_ in _Kurozuka_ was an ingenious use of what was originally a love poem. #### Two Sides of the Oni-Woman #### In the first act of _Kurozuka_, the old woman is in an isolated house. She sits in her house minding her own business, like a helping _yamauba_. This house has a room that is replete with corpses. The house is undoubtedly an _oni_'s house. Then the _yamabushi_ party, who are considered good characters like the young heroines of _Komebuku Awabuku_, _Ubakawa_, and _Hanayo no hime_,unexpectedly visit her dwelling and asks for a night's shelter. The woman is reluctant but lets them in—just like the helping _yamauba._ While not giving a material treasure to the _yamabushi_ troupe to help in their plight, the woman is obliging enough to entertain her guests with her spinning wheel and does try to give some comfort by making a fire to warm them on a cold night. The _yamabushi_'s servant repeatedly calls her a kind woman; she goes to the mountains to collect some wood. The acts of carrying wood and spinning have a connection with Yamanba in the Noh play, who sings, "sometimes when a woodsman rests beside a mountain path beneath the blossoms, she shoulders his heavy burden and, with the moon, comes out the mountain going with him to the village below" (Bethe and Brazell 1998, 222; [source:2245] 59:579). Yamanba's efforts to help the villagers—woodsmen and weavers—thus seem to be reflected in the acts of the woman in _Kurozuka_. As the woman leaves for the mountain—the _yamauba_'s trope—she tells the _yamabushi_ group not to look in one room, and they promise that they will not. As so often happens in the folkloric "taboo" motif, this promise is broken. The _yamabushi_'s servant cannot resist the temptation to look, and there he finds human bones and skulls, rotten corpses bloated and streaming with pus and blood. The group of _yamabushi_ immediately leaves the _oni_'s den. This "taboo" motif is similar to _Kuwazu nyōbō_, in which the woman's husband discovers the secret of the unsightly gargantuan mouth on the back of her head, and the novice in _Sanmai no ofuda_, who clandestinely looks in the room where his aunt reveals her terrifying _yamauba_ appearance. In the second act, realizing the traveling monks have broken their promise and seen the unsightly corpses, the woman, now an _oni_-woman (the protagonist of the second act wears a _hannya_ [or _prajñā_ in Sanskrit] wisdom mask or a _shikami_ scowling mask), chases fiercely after them, like the _yamauba_ in _Kuwazu nyōbō_, _Ushikata to yamauba_, and _Sanmai no ofuda_. The _hannya_ mask with two sharp horns and a large mouth represents a jealous female demon and the _shikami_ mask with a snarling mouth without horns represents an evil [masculine] demon to be defeated. With a _hannya_ or _shikami_ mask, the _oni_-woman reveals her true form. Unlike Yomotsu-shikome, who is dispatched by Izanami on her behalf, this _oni_-woman is an independent agent acting on her own. The chase of the _oni_-woman of _Kurozuka_, however, ends in her defeat—just like the cannibalistic _yamauba_ of folktales. The _oni_-woman of _Kurozuka_ is a prototype of the cannibalistic, chasing _yamauba_. There are only three Noh plays in which the protagonist wears a _hannya_ mask: _Aoi no ue_ (Lady Aoi), _Dōjōji_ (Dōjōji Temple), and _Kurozuka_, which are called the three _oni-_woman plays. A _hannya_ mask expresses a woman's resentment and fierce obsession ([source:2221). Although it has an angry expression with two sharp horns, a wide mouth open from ear to ear, and glaring gilt eyes, "we see a trace of heart-breaking sadness hover over it, especially when the wearer hangs its head a little" ([source:2212], 302; see also [source:2219], 5). Extraordinary anger, grudges, and jealousy were believed to transform women into _oni_. Michelle Osterfeld Li writes: "The shift toward _oni_ who evoke sympathy occurs mainly in the medieval period (circa 1185–1600), when their potential for spiritual growth is considered. Even as they remain dangerous monsters, the reasons why they became _oni_ and their potential for change start to matter" (2012, 173). The protagonists in _Aoi no ue_ and _Dōjōji_ are human in the beginning and turn into _oni_-women because of strong feelings of jealousy and resentment, but the woman in _Kurozuka_ is an _oni_ from the beginning. That is, the woman in the first act is not human but an _oni_ in human form ([source:2201], 81; [source:2212], 302). The fact that _Kurozuka_'s protagonistin the second act wears a _hannya_ mask is, however, understandable when one considers the human, sympathetic aspect of the woman in the first act. #### Yamanba in Kurozuka #### The shadow of the Noh play _Yamanba_ can be seen throughout _Kurozuka_. This can first be seen in an allusion to the sixth episode of the _Tales of Ise_, used for its image of a cannibalistic _oni_. As mentioned earlier, in the play _Yamanba_ Hyakuma fears she will be eaten by Yamanba like the lady in the sixth episode of _Tales of Ise._ In _Kurozuka_, as the protagonist _oni_-woman chases after the _yamabushi_ group, she describes her own actions by citing a famous passage from the _Tales of Ise_ in which an _oni_ eats a lady in one gulp: > _Narukami inazuma tenchi ni michite_ Thunder and lightning fill both heaven and earth > > _Sora kaki kumoru ame no yo no_ The sky is overcast, black as a rainy night, > > _Oni hitokuchi ni kuwan tote_ The fiend comes to swallow the victims in one gulp > > _Ayumi yoru ashioto_ The sound of its approaching footsteps, > > _Furiaguru tecchō no ikioi_ My iron wand lifted high to > strike with mighty force. > > ([source:2245] 59:471) ([source:2212], 329–30) The woman accumulates human bones, skulls, and so on in a bedroom, but no explanation is given as to why she keeps these skeletons in her house. But from this association with the _oni_ in the _Tales of Ise_, and because _oni_ are generally known to eat humans, perhaps she was going to eat the _yamabushi_. Considering the fact that Hyakuma is an entertainer and entertains Yamanba with her dance in the second act, and that the _oni_-woman in the first act of _Kurozuka_ entertains the _yamabushi_, one may say that the _oni_-woman of _Kurozuka_ acts like a mirror image of Hyakuma. A second connection between _Kurozuka_ and _Yamanba_ is that both the _oni_-woman of _Kurozuka_ and Hyakuma in _Yamanba_ express a strong sense of shame in relation to _oni_. In _Yamanba_, Hyakuma feels that it would be shameful for her to be known as a woman who has been eaten by an _oni_. She sings: > _Ukiyogatari mo hazukashi ya_ To become the subject of a woeful tale told throughout the world—how shameful! > > ([source:2245] 59:576–77) ([source:2130], 219) The _oni_-woman in _Kurozuka_ feels an intense shame that her secret, her true life and demonic appearance, have been exposed to the _yamabushi_: > _Kurozuka ni kakure sumishi mo_ Her abode, the Black Mound, the secret hiding place, > > _Asama ni narinu_ has now been exposed. > > _asamashi ya_ "Oh, how disgraceful! > > _Hazukashi no waga sugata ya_ is the sight of me!" > > ([source:2245] 59:473) ([source:2212], 334) Baba Akiko has an insightful statement: "There is a word _funshi_, dying from indignation. But rather than dying from a fit of anger, wouldn't a person die from an internal struggleof _chijoku_, shame and disgrace, that simmer in the shadow of anger?" (1988, 197). Baba's comment refers to the Rokujō Haven's emotional state toward Aoi, Genji's formal wife, in _The Tale of Genji_. I feel that shame and disgrace are shared by Hyakuma and the woman in _Kurozuka_. Hyakuma dreads the fact that she will die soon, but it is an infinite shame and disgrace if it becomes known to the public that she was eaten by an _oni_. The woman in _Kurozuka_ feels undying shame and disgrace that her appearance and activities are exposed. This shame and disgrace were the reasons that Izanami dispatched Yomotsu-shikome to kill Izanagi. The third connection between _Kurozuka_ and _Yamamba_ is the _yamanba_'s weaving and the image of her turning a spinning wheel. While Yamanba of the Noh play sings that she winds threads and places herself in spinning sheds, no prop for weaving appears on the Noh stage. A spinning wheel becomes a major prop in the Noh play _Kurozuka_—one of the only two props on the bare Noh stage—and the spinning wheel becomes the protagonist's own tool. At the request of the chief _yamabushi_, the woman of _Kurozuka_ starts to turn the spinning wheel. She spins the string with a song of longing for the past. Komatsu Kazuhiko states: "An element of spinning is often found in the _yamanba_ narratives that start to appear during the medieval period. I cannot help thinking that the image of 'a _yamanba_ turning a spinning wheel' is projected on the _oni_ of Adachigahara" (2004, 51). I believe the image of "a _yamanba_ turning a spinning wheel" is not only projected but also strengthened through the _oni_-woman. I speculate that _Kurozuka_ helped disseminate the visual image of _yamauba_'s association with strings—or at least her spinning wheel. ### Concluding remarks ### In this article I have studied one of the major characteristics of _yamauba_, her duality, through some representative folktales, _otogizōshi_, and Noh texts. Although the malevolent _yamauba_ and the benevolent _yamauba_ look incompatible with each other, they are two sides of the same coin, and these stories possess a complementary narrative format. In folktales, the term _yamauba_ is interchangeable with the term _oni_-woman when her evil and cannibalistic side is highlighted, especially when both cannibalism and mountains appear as two major factors in one story. The character tends to be called _oni_-woman rather than _yamauba_ when the character feels strongly shameful of her appearance or action, and her emotional intensity is the predominant feeling of the story. While this cannibalistic, evil _yamauba_ is destined to be defeated by a socially approved personage, be it a priest, husband, or other man, she may have her ancient roots in Yomotsu-shikome, and her strong image as a frightening yet pathetic figure seems to owe much to the woman in _Kurozuka_. When the _yamauba_'s positive side—helping, giving good fortune and fertility—is accentuated, only the term _yamauba_ is used. In spite of her terrifying appearance (a demoness in form), the character Yamanba as portrayed by Zeami is a self-reflective, nature-loving creature who is only demonic in appearance. Like the _yamauba_ in _Hanayo no hime_ or any _yamauba_ in folktales, the mountains are the place where her life is sustained. Mountains and her association with nature are what make the _yamauba_ distinct from _oni_-women. After all, the topos of _yamauba_ is the mountains. The mixture of the usage of _yamauba_, _oni_-woman, and _oni_ probably originates in _yamauba_'s root in _oni_, but the interchangeability of _yamauba_ and _oni_-woman in the proactive behavior of _yamauba_ indicates the influence of patriarchy, where men tried to confine women to the private sector. The major characteristics of a _yamauba_ are that she 1) lives in the mountains and 2) brings death and destruction as well as wealth and fertility, possessing the duality of good and evil. ### Author ### Noriko Tsunoda Reider is Professor of Japanese at Miami University of Ohio in the Department of German, Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. Her research interest is the supernatural in Japanese literature, folklore, and art. She has published _Seven Demon Stories from Medieval Japan_ (Utah State University Press, 2016), _Japanese Demon Lore: Oni, from Ancient Times to the Present_ (Utah State University Press, 2010), _Tales of the Supernatural in Early Modern Japan_ (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002), and many articles. Currently she is working on _yamauba_ (mountain crones, mountain witches). ### Notes ### [^1]:Financial support from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, as well as the Committee of Faculty Research from Miami University, made the research in this article possible. A draft of this article was presented at the 21st Annual Asian Studies Conference, Japan, in 2017. I would like to thank Suzy Cincone for her proofreading, and the editors of _Asian Ethnology,_ and the anonymous reviewers for their comments [^2]:Many Japanese use the terms _yamauba_, _yamanba_, and _yamamba_ interchangeably. Some dictionaries, however, make the distinction that the pronunciation _yamauba_ often seems to be used for the legendary or folkloric figure, whereas the nasalized forms _yamanba_ or _yamamba_ are used in the texts for performing arts such as Noh and Kabuki. [^3]:_Setsuwa_, a Japanese literary genre, broadly consists of myths, legends, folktales, and anecdotes. In the narrow sense of the term, they are "short Japanese tales that depict extraordinary events, illustrate basic Buddhist principles or, less frequently, other Asian religious and philosophical teachings, and transmit cultural and historical knowledge. These narratives were compiled from roughly the ninth through mid-fourteenth centuries in collections such as _Konjaku monogatarishū_" ([source:2182], 1). _Setsuwa_ are now often considered to have an oral origin and are secondhand stories. They are presented as true, or at least as possibly true, and are short. Also see Eubanks (2011, 8–11), especially for an explanation about Buddhist _setsuwa_ literature. [^4]:Regarding the translation of Onmyōdō as "the way of yin-yang" and the spelling of Onmyōdō without italics and with a capital O, I have followed Hayek and Hayashi 2013, 3. Onmyōdō is an eclectic practice whose roots are found in the theory of the cosmic duality of yin and yang and the five elements or phases (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth). With the theory of yin and yang and the five elements formed in ancient China at its core, Onmyōdō adapted elements from the Buddhist astrology of the _Xiuyaojing_ (Jp. Sukuyōkyō) and indigenous Japanese _kami_ worship. The appellation Onmyōdō was formed in Japan between the tenth and eleventh centuries. See [source:2146], 1–18. [^5]:For the origins of the _oni_, see [source:2207], 2–14. [^6]:_Yomigatari_, published from 2004 to 2005, have forty-seven volumes altogether. Hayashi notes that _Yomigatari_ were edited from the collections of old tales in various regions that were first published around 1974 for the purpose of making the tales easy for children to understand. Various prefectural education-related organizations participated in the creation of _Yomigatari_ for practical and educational use by children ([source:2144], 69). [^7]:_Hyakumonogatari hyōban_ was compiled by either a student or the eldest son of Yamaoka Genrin and was printed fourteen years after Genrin's death. The work is in the form of a question and answer session between Genrin and his students. [^8]:"It was widely believed during the medieval period that song and dance, as well as other arts, could function as a means to salvation" ([source:2131], 213). [^9]:Japan's medieval age is usually taken to mean 1185–1600. See [source:2133], 114. [^10]:Shimazaki and Comee's translation is preceded by a wonderful introduction of this play.