Today is a cold, dark and rainy, absolutely beautiful October day. Perfect for ghost stories by candlelight! And perfect for today’s yokai!
Literally “rain woman,” ame-onna started out as a rainmaker priestess in ancient China. People prayed to her, and she was highly respected. When her legend was brought to Japan, the story changed quite a bit and she became a yokai.
It is said that when a newborn child disappears a rainy day, an ame-onna is responsible. They are ugly hags who lurk in the rain, licking their own bodies, and carrying a big black sack which they use to capture children — especially children who cry on a rainy night!
In Japan there are a number of variations of ame-onna, including a “rain wetnurse” and a “rain spirit” which generally do good things. There is also a variant ame-onna who reflects her Chinese origins and saves people by calling rain during a dry period. The majority of Japanese ame-onna seem to be on the sinister side, however.
For any new visitors to this project: beautiful, matted fine-art prints of this yokai series are available on my Etsy store! About half of the yokai are up now, and the remainder will be posted after Halloween. Thanks for looking!