Ubume

As Jacob described in his presentation this afternoon, Group 3 is discussing social interaction và responsibility in Japanese society based on the Confucian tradition & expectations. We will be discussing topics like filial piety và responsibility, lust, & the subdued role of women in the final draft of our podcast. The section relating lớn the subdued role of women has inspired my fellow group members và I lớn research various female Yokai and how they reflect Confucianism’s influence on the expectations of women in Japanese society. Earlier this week, we took a closer look at the Yamambố, or Mountain witch. This afternoon, I found another female Yokai, known as Ubume, in Michael Dylan Foster’s The Book of Yokai. 

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The picture above sầu depicts a ghostly woman with gray hair holding her newborn child. She is usually thought to be the spirit of a woman who painfully died during childbirth. Typically, an individual, most of the time a male, will meet her at a fork in the road or before crossing a bridge. Covered in blood và crying while cradling her infant, she asks the man to lớn hold the child before disappearing. The baby becomes heavier và heavier in the man’s arms until he can’t move from fear of dropping it. In some legends, the man is rewarded for his dedication and effort with amazing physical strength và capabilities.

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Death during childbirth was extremely comtháng prior to the modern period, providing a potential explanation và origin for the conception of this Yokai. One legkết thúc or tale related lớn the Ubume details the story of a shopkeeper who is repeatedly visited by a strange woman. One night, the store owner follows the strange woman after she leaves khổng lồ discover her disappearing into a graveyard before hearing the sound of a crying baby. As he ventures inkhổng lồ the graveyard, the shopkeeper finds the corpse of the woman in a dug up grave with a healthy, live infant beside her. The child, in some legends, grows up to lớn be a successful monk.

Within the context of Confucianism’s influence on the subdued role of women, I think the Ubume is an excellent example of the value placed on Japanese women limiting themselves to lớn the responsibilities of the household rather than pursuing more impactful roles in society or government. A woman dying in childbirth meant the child’s primary nurturer and caregiver would be absent; this was surely seen as a tragedy, depriving the son or daughter of a vital foundation established during childhood that ensured success later on in life. Therefore, we see this mother searching for the proper environment for her child while crying over her inability khổng lồ be there for hlặng or her.

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While we have not incorporated this Yokai inkhổng lồ the script, like we have with the Yamamtía, I think it is definitely something khổng lồ investigate further and see where this takes us. There is great potential for us khổng lồ further expvà the dialogue surrounding the subdued role of women và develop và build upon what we have sầu already established with our secondary sources and the information on the Yamamba.

Stay tuned for more information! Have sầu a great weekend!

Will

Dylan Foster, Michael. The Book of Yokai. Oaklvà, CA: University of California Press, năm ngoái.