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Toho Company, Ltd.
They are reproduced here in conjunction with the course website for
ENLT 255: Special Collections
an undergraduate seminar held at the University of Virginia
in the fall semester of 2005.
Their reproduction is made possible by the fair use
17 U.S.C. 107
which limit the exclusive rights of copyright holders.
For more on the fair use of film stills, see Kristin Thompson's
"Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Society For Cinema Studies:
'Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills'
32.2 (Winter 1993): 3-20.
. "Yuki-Onna." Kwaidan
. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1904.
n a village of Musashi Province, there lived two woodcutters: Mosaku and Minokichi. At the time of
which I am speaking, Mosaku was an old man; and Minokichi, his apprentice, was a lad of eighteen
years. Every day they went together to a forest situated about five miles from their village. On
the way to that forest there is a wide river to cross; and there is a ferry-boat. Several times a
bridge was built where the ferry is; but the bridge was each time carried away by a flood. No common
bridge can resist the current there when the river rises.
osaku and Minokichi were on their way home, one very cold evening, when a great snowstorm overtook
them. They reached the ferry; and they found that the boatman had gone away, leaving his boat on the
other side of the river. It was no day for swimming; and the woodcutters took shelter in the
ferryman's hut,—thinking themselves lucky to find any shelter at all. There was no brazier in the
hut, nor any place in which to make a fire: it was only a two-mat1
hut, with a single door, but no window. Mosaku and Minokichi
fastened the door, and lay down to rest, with their straw rain-coats over them. At first they did
not feel very cold; and they thought that the storm would soon be over.
he old man almost immediately fell asleep; but the boy, Minokichi, lay awake a long time, listening
to the awful wind, and the continual slashing of the snow against the door. The river was roaring;
and the hut swayed and creaked like a junk at sea. It was a terrible storm; and the air was every
moment becoming colder; and Minokichi shivered under his raincoat. But at last, in spite of the
cold, he too fell asleep.
e was awakened by a showering of snow in his face. The door of the hut had been forced open; and,
by the snow-light (yuki-akari
), he saw a woman in the room,—a woman all in white. She was bending
above Mosaku, and blowing her breath upon him;—and her breath was like a bright white smoke. Almost
in the same moment she turned to Minokichi, and stooped over him. He tried to cry out, but found
that he could not utter any sound. The white woman bent down over him, lower and lower, until her
face almost touched him; and he saw that she was very beautiful,—though her eyes made him afraid.
For a little time she continued to look at him;—then she smiled, and she whispered:—"I intended to
treat you like the other man. But I cannot help feeling some pity for you,—because you are so
young... You are a pretty boy, Minokichi; and I will not hurt you now. But, if you ever tell
anybody—even your own mother—about what you have seen this night, I shall know it; and then I will
kill you... Remember what I say!"
ith these words, she turned from him, and passed through the doorway. Then he found himself able
to move; and he sprang up, and looked out. But the woman was nowhere to be seen; and the snow was
driving furiously into the hut. Minokichi closed the door, and secured it by fixing several billets
of wood against it. He wondered if the wind had blown it open;—he thought that he might have been
only dreaming, and might have mistaken the gleam of the snow-light in the doorway for the figure of
a white woman: but he could not be sure. He called to Mosaku, and was frightened because the old man
did not answer. He put out his hand in the dark, and touched Mosaku's face, and found that it was
ice! Mosaku was stark and dead....
y dawn the storm was over; and when the ferryman returned to his station, a little after sunrise,
he found Minokichi lying senseless beside the frozen body of Mosaku. Minokichi was promptly cared
for, and soon came to himself; but he remained a long time ill from the effects of the cold of that
terrible night. He had been greatly frightened also by the old man's death; but he said nothing
about the vision of the woman in white. As soon as he got well again, he returned to his
calling,—going alone every morning to the forest, and coming back at nightfall with his bundles of
wood, which his mother helped him to sell.
ne evening, in the winter of the following year, as he was on his way home, he overtook a girl who
happened to be traveling by the same road. She was a tall, slim girl, very good-looking; and she
answered Minokichi's greeting in a voice as pleasant to the ear as the voice of a song-bird. Then
he walked beside her; and they began to talk. The girl said that her name was O-Yuki2
; that she had lately lost both of her parents; and that she was going
to Yedo, where she happened to have some poor relations, who might help her to find a situation as
a servant. Minokichi soon felt charmed by this strange girl; and the more that he looked at her,
the handsomer she appeared to be. He asked her whether she was yet betrothed; and she answered,
laughingly, that she was free. Then, in her turn, she asked Minokichi whether he was married, or
pledge to marry; and he told her that, although he had only a widowed mother to support, the
question of an "honorable daughter-in-law" had not yet been considered, as he was very young....
After these confidences, they walked on for a long while without speaking; but, as the proverb
declares, Ki ga aréba, mé mo kuchi hodo ni mono wo iu
: "When the wish is there, the eyes can say
as much as the mouth." By the time they reached the village, they had become very much pleased
with each other; and then Minokichi asked O-Yuki to rest awhile at his house. After some shy
hesitation, she went there with him; and his mother made her welcome, and prepared a warm meal
for her. O-Yuki behaved so nicely that Minokichi's mother took a sudden fancy to her, and persuaded
her to delay her journey to Yedo. And the natural end of the matter was that Yuki never went to
Yedo at all. She remained in the house, as an "honorable daughter-in-law."
-Yuki proved a very good daughter-in-law. When Minokichi's mother came to die,—some five years
later,—her last words were words of affection and praise for the wife of her son. And O-Yuki bore
Minokichi ten children, boys and girls,—handsome children all of them, and very fair of skin.
he country-folk thought O-Yuki a wonderful person, by nature different from themselves. Most of
the peasant-women age early; but O-Yuki, even after having become the mother of ten children, looked
as young and fresh as on the day when she had first come to the village.
ne night, after the children had gone to sleep, O-Yuki was sewing by the light of a paper lamp;
and Minokichi, watching her, said:—
o see you sewing there, with the light on your face, makes me think of a strange thing that
happened when I was a lad of eighteen. I then saw somebody as beautiful and white as you are
now—indeed, she was very like you."...
ithout lifting her eyes from her work, O-Yuki responded:—
ell me about her.... Where did you see her?"
hen Minokichi told her about the terrible night in the ferryman's hut,—and about the White Woman
that had stooped above him, smiling and whispering,—and about the silent death of old Mosaku. And
sleep or awake, that was the only time that I saw a being as beautiful as you. Of course, she
was not a human being; and I was afraid of her,—very much afraid,—but she was so white!... Indeed,
I have never been sure whether it was a dream that I saw, or the Woman of the Snow."...
-Yuki flung down her sewing, and arose, and bowed above Minokichi where he sat, and shrieked into
t was I—I—I! Yuki it was! And I told you then that I would kill you if you ever said one work
about it!... But for those children asleep there, I would kill you this moment! And now you had
better take very, very good care of them; for if ever they have reason to complain of you, I will
treat you as you deserve!"...
ven as she screamed, her voice became thin, like a crying of wind;—then she melted into a bright
white mist that spired to the roof-beams, and shuddered away through the smoke-hold.... Never again
was she seen.