Benevolent

Yukinbo (雪坊)

To explain why snow melts faster around trees, people in Wakayama say that when you see a ring of melted snow in a circle around a tree, it is the footprint of Yukinbo. On nights when snow falls, this one-legged child hops in circles around trees (just to confuse us).

The NY Times offered “scientific” explanations of this phenomenon in an April, 2011 article. Unfortunately, comments are disabled, or else I would feel compelled to post, “Thank you for your expert’s “suggestions,” but my encyclopedia clearly states it’s a one-legged mystical child hopping in circles.” Put that in your pipe and smoke it, oh-so-smug winner of over 100 Pulitzers.

You, like me, may be wondering why so many yokai are one-legged (and usually one-eyed as well). Evidently, in the traditional mountain belief systems, one-legged boys were thought to be servants of the mountain gods (according to the Japanese Wikipedia page on Yuki-onna, which includes Yukinbo). And according to the book I’ve mentioned before, 「妖怪の大常識」, one-legged boy stories used to be limited to the mountains. But in Edo Era, they became popularized and moved down into villages in stories and folklore.

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