A-Yokai-A-Day: Ao-nyobo

I seem to have caught a cold… probably from lack of sleep. So my description today will be a bit shorter. Anyway, let’s look at another relatively obscure yokai from ages past…


This yokai’s name is a bit misleading without context. Literally, it means “blue wife,” but it is also an archaic term for a young, inexperienced courtesan, or the servant of an aristocrat. The Japanese word for blue, ao, is similar to the English word green, in that it means both a color and a level of experience. And nyobo, meaning wife, can also refer to a woman of the imperial court in ages past. Quite possibly this yokai was invented as a joke with a double meaning. In any case, here she is.

Ao-nyobo is described as an ugly ghoul who lives in a dilapidated manor; she is a formerly rich but now ruined aristocrat. She spends her time putting on make-up, blackening her teeth (which used to be high fashion in Japan, as you may remember from ohaguro-bettari), and basically preparing for an aristocratic visitor. Despite her efforts she is somewhat unkempt and has bloodshot eyes from her obsessive vanity. If someone is unlucky enough to pay her a visit, he will probably become the main course. I can’t help but think of her as a parody of her age… sort of a Desperate Housewives of the Edo Period figure.



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  1. Pingback: A-Yokai-A-Day: Ao-bōzu | MatthewMeyer.net

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