Episode 86: Solitary Fae: Yuki Onna & Tsurara Onna
The folklore of yuki onna and tsurara onna in a nutshell, how I reimagined them for my writing, and these fae translated to Afrikaans.
Written and narrated by Ronel Janse van Vuuren.
Copyright 2023 Ronel Janse van Vuuren — All rights reserved.
Learn more about yuki onna and tsurara onna in folklore here.
Get the transcript here.
Music: Secrets by David Fesliyan (FesliyanStudios.com) and Dramatic Heartbeat by FesliyanStudios.com
You’re listening to the Faeries and Folklore podcast by Ronel.
I’m dark fantasy author Ronel Janse van Vuuren. With almost a decade of digging around in dusty folklore books, researching creatures of imagination that ignited my curiosity, I’m here to share the folklore in a nutshell and how I reimagined it for my writing in an origin of the fae.
This is the Faeries and Folklore podcast.
Hi, I’m your host Ronel Janse van Vuuren. You can just call me Ronel. In today’s episode, we’re continuing our exploration of the fae realm.
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We’re continuing our exploration of Solitary Fae.
Today’s Faery: Yuki Onna and Tsurara Onna
Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel
Regularly confused with each other, is Yuki Onna and Tsurara Onna. Tsurara Onna is the Icicle Woman and Yuki Onna is the Snow Woman. I’ve been able to find older sources for the Yuki Onna legend, but I was unable to find any texts about the Tsurara Onna legend – at least in English.
So Yuki Onna is a beautiful woman with pale skin and long hair who levitates above the ground – probably the only reason she doesn’t leave footprints and seem to float before her victims. She’s only active in the winter months, her powers are linked to the icy elements of winter, and she can disappear into a flurry or mist. Tales of her vary in what she wishes from humans. In some, she torments parents of lost children, seeming to hold the child for them to collect. Once they do, she freezes them in a block of ice. In others, she blows open doors with her icy breath and freezes the occupants of the building in their sleep. And then there’s the one where she seems more vampiric than murderous: she saps the life-force from her human lovers or those she turns insane with her gaze.
As for Tsurara Onna, the legend has fewer deaths. Basically a lonely man stares at a beautiful icicle and wishes for a wife as beautiful to ease his loneliness. Like magic, a woman fitting that description arrives, becomes his dutiful wife and he is a happy man. One version then ends with the husband insisting on his wife taking a bath – she, being an icicle after all, melts and is gone. The other version ends with the wife leaving when winter does, he remarries and then she returns the next winter: and sends an icicle through his treacherous heart.
I rather like the second version of the Tsurara Onna legend. Either way, if you’re in a place with snowstorms, it’s probably best to lock all doors and be wary of strangers just in case one of these beautiful fae decide to prey on you.
And now for my interpretation of the fae in an Origin of the Fae: Yuki Onna and Tsurara Onna
Two sides of the same fae.
Yuki Onna: white hair, white skin, white kimono, violet eyes. Snow fuels her glamour. She lives off human life-energy. Usually she preys on lost travellers during snowstorms.
Tsurara Onna: black hair, white skin, blue kimono, blue eyes. Icicles fuel her glamour. She lives off regular food and affection. She finds a human to adore her through winter. She bonds with this person emotionally, but has to leave in the spring. If she returns the following winter and the human stayed true, they can be happy once more; if not, the human gets skewered by an icicle.
This winter fae usually only appears in Japan, but they have been known to travel widely – keeping their appearance the same.
They appear to be young, beautiful Japanese women, taking on the glamour of either Yuki Onna or Tsurara Onna depending on their mood that winter. They serve the Cailleach and aren’t affiliated with any Court.
As a little bonus, let’s look at this faery translated to Afrikaans: Sneeuvrou-fee en Yskeëlvrou-fee.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode of the faeries and folklore podcast and that you’ve learned something new about faeries.
Remember that you can get a transcript of this episode in the description. If you’re new to the podcast, why not go and grab your free copy of Unseen, the second book in the Faery Tales series, on my website ronelthemythmaker.com? Loads of folklore, magic and danger await! Take care!
You can now support my time in producing the podcast (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.
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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.