Onibaba: The Demon Hag

Back at Part-Time Monster this week discussing the Japanese version of the Old Crone: Onibaba. Have a look!

*Warning: story includes fetal murder and images of nudity.

Part Time Monster


The tales of Onibaba the Demon Hag are numerous and bloody. Her myths are centered around primal fears of pregnancy, menopause, and desperation.

Be warned, this post contains tales of fetal murder and cannibalism, as well as images of nudity.

Onibaba’s most famous story begins with a merchant family and a midwife. Shortly after giving birth to a daughter, the merchant family grows despondent to discover their daughter is rather sickly. They seek out a priest to heal her, and the priest informs them that the only cure for her illness is to consume the healthy liver of a newborn child.

In a classic tale of short-sightedness and desperate selfishness, the merchant family tasks the midwife with finding the liver. Never mind where it will come from, or that should it have been another person’s infant, they wouldn’t have given up their daughter’s liver to save another babe.

The midwife, however, does…

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4 thoughts on “Onibaba: The Demon Hag

  1. Crispian Thurlborn says:

    Great post, Alex. I read “The Goblin of Adachigahara” when I was in school, but I forget the author’s name (I think it was in “Japanese Fairy Tales” or some such). The character reminds me in some ways of Black Annis from English folklore (and is a character I’m rather fond of). Although the stories are different, the Maiden, Mother, Crone aspect is commonly found throughout cultures.

    From what I remember, just north of Tokyo (near Fukushima) there is a place known as the black mound (within Kanzeji Temple?). Beneath a forlorn tree lie the remains of Onibaba. Apparently, there is also a small museum in Adachigahara displaying the cooking pot and knife she used on her victims. Unfortunately, I never got to visit either as the Tōhoku earthquake struck a few weeks earlier and travel to the region from where I was at the time just wasn’t going to happen. Have you visited it yourself?

    The film is excellent by the way. Good choice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jazzfeathers says:

    Truly a creepy story. More than the aspect of the age of Onibaba, it stracks me that her wrong doing in the end harm just the person she wanted to help. To me, the messge seems to be: don’t do wrong even if you mean good, because wrong still remains wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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