, a Japanese yōkai
appears in folk stories and literature as an old woman or crone
, with a child in her arms, imploring the passerby to hold her infant, only to then disappear.
As legend has it, the weight of the child increases by degrees, until the bewitched “child” is revealed to be nothing more than a huge rock or boulder.
The first version of this sort of tale was related by Urabe Suyetake
, servant of Raiko.
Originally the name for a kind of small sea fish, in Japanese folklore the term is now applied to the ghost of a woman who had died in childbirth, or ‘‘birthing woman ghost.’’
Typically, the Ubume asks a passerby to hold her child for just a moment and disappears when her victim takes the swaddled baby. The baby then becomes increasingly heavy until it is impossible to hold. It is then revealed not to be a human child at all, but a boulder or a stone image of Jizo.
Many scholars have associated the Ubume with the legend of the hitobashira, where a sacrificial mother and child "are buried under one of the supporting pillars of a new bridge."
The Shoshin’in Temple, according to scholars, is where local women come to pray to conceive a child or to have a successful pregnancy. According to Stone and Walter (2008), the origins of the temple’s legend, set in the mid-sixteenth century, concern:
Stories about Ubume have been told in Japan since at least the twelfth century.
This page was last edited on 6 March 2018, at 09:07 (UTC)
under CC BY-SA license.