Yama Uba or The Mountain Witch is a demon from Japanese folklore who lives in a hut in the mountains and eats anyone who is unfortunate enough to cross her path.
She is a hideous old hag with long straggily, yellowed hair, piercing eyes, tattered clothing and a gaping mouth that stretches across her entire face.
The Mountain Witch was once a normal old woman, living in a small village in Japan. But the area experienced a terrible famine and food became scarce. Her children didn’t want to feed her anymore so they drove her out of the village and left her in the woods to die of starvation.
But Yama Uba didn’t die. She made her way up into the mountains and found shelter in a cave. Living alone for so many years gradually drove her insane and she became a cannibal, existing on the flesh of people she killed.
She built a little hut, deep in the forest, and now, to survive, she preys on travelers who become lost in the mountains. She poses as a pretty young woman and offers them shelter for the night in her hut. But once they fall asleep, she kills them and eats them. Sometimes she uses her hideous hair to entangle her victims and drag them into her giant mouth.
In some stories, the Mountain Witch offers to lead a lost traveller back onto the right path. Instead, she leads him off the edge of a cliff and he falls to his death on the rocks below. The Yama Uba then rushes down to the bottom of the cliff and hungrily feasts on the poor traveller’s remains.