Description in Classical Japanese Folklore
Depending on the text and translator, the Yamauba appears as a monstrous Crone, “her unkempt hair long and golden white ... her kimono filthy and tattered,”  with cannibalistic tendencies.  In one tale a mother traveling to her village is forced to give birth in a mountain hut assisted by a seemingly kind old woman, only to discover, when it is too late, that the stranger is actually Yamauba with plans to eat her newborn child.  In another story the yōkai raises the orphan hero Kintarō, who goes on to become the famous warrior Sakata no Kintoki. 
Yamauba in Western Literature
Steve Berman's short story, “A Troll on a Mountain with a Girl”  features Yamauba.
Lafcadio Hearn, writing primarily for a Western audience, tells a tale like this:
- Then [they] saw the Yama-Uba,—the "Mountain Nurse." Legend says she catches little children and nurses them for awhile, and then devours them. The Yama-Uba did not clutch at us, because her hands were occupied with a nice little boy, whom she was just going to eat. The child had been made wonderfully pretty to heighten the effect. The spectre, hovering in the air above a tomb at some distance ... had no eyes; its long hair hung loose; its white robe floated light as smoke. I thought of a statement in a composition by one of my pupils about ghosts: "Their greatest peculiarity is that they have no feet." Then I jumped again, for the thing, quite soundlessly, but very swiftly, made through the air at me. 
Yamauba in Noh Drama
- Yamauba is the fairy of the mountains, which have been under her care since the world began. She decks them with snow in winter, with blossoms in spring ... She has grown very old. Wild white hair hangs down her shoulders; her face is very thin. There was a courtesan of the Capital who made a dance representing the wanderings of Yamauba. It had such success that people called this courtesan Yamauba though her real name was Hyakuma. 
The play takes place one evening as Hyakuma is traveling to visit the Zenko Temple in Shinano, when she accepts the hospitality of a woman who turns out to be none other than the real Yamauba, herself.
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (February 2013)|
- Cavallaro, 132.
- Joly, 396.
- Hearn, 267.
- Ashkenazi, 294.
- Ozaki, 70.
- Ozaki, 67.
- Shirane, 558.
- Monaghan, 238.
- Wallace, 184.
- Hearn, 267.
- Waley, 247.
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