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Ouni, the Friendly Witch

Ewa Nowogorski

Witches in the USA are depicted as evil and ugly women, hunched over with a long warty nose, crooked teeth, a sinister laugh, green skin, shaggy hair, and a creepy black costume with a pointed hat that combined makes for a very distinct and recognizable character. They lure children to their homes and try to cannibalize them. Witches are hated, but are loved for being a popular Halloween costume during the Fall. Some people will even purchase model or witch-themed decorations, and hang them around the home.

In Japan, witches are perceived in a slightly different way. They are called ouni and are a type of yokai. Like the American version, ouni look like demon women, with a mouth that stretches from ear to ear, and 2 rows of pitch-black teeth. Their bodies are covered in har.

But contrary to their appearance, Japanese versions of witches are more friendly. But there is a catch- you have to be friendly to them as well.

They dwell deep in the mountains, and when you stay in a secluded hut in the Japanese mountains and hear a sudden knock on the door late at night, it might just be the ouni visiting you. And you had better treat them like a guest.

The superstition is that if you are kind to her and offer her free lodging for the night, she will spin you a lot of thread. She might be scary at first but her treatment towards you will directly reflect your treatment towards her.

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