It's the end of the month, and I bring you the final yokai of this month: yonaki baba. She's a pretty simple and straightforward yokai, which makes it much easier to translate. :)
I was first attracted to this yokai because of the outrageously silly illustration of it as it appears in the Buson youkai emaki. (incidentally this scroll also gave us the outrageously silly shirime.
I used that as my model, as I like to stick to the source material as much as possible, but I did try to make her a bit more sad looking. The Buson nakibaba looks so happy, and I wanted to make it a bit more ambiguous as to whether she is mocking or genuinely sad for those she haunts, because the folklore doesn't agree on whether it's one or the other.
Anyway, here she is!
TRANSLATION: weeping hag
ALTERNATE NAMES: nakibabā
HABITAT: human-inhabited areas
DIET: feeds off of others’ sadness
APPEARANCE: Yonaki babā looks like an old woman with scraggly, unkempt hair and plain robes. She appears outside of houses where tragedy has struck, attracted by the sadness of those within. She remains outside of the house, weeping loudly all night long. Although it appears that yonaki babā are sharing in the sadness of others, it is sometimes said that they actually weep out of scorn, mocking those who are truly sad.
INTERACTIONS: Yonaki babā’s weeping is contagious; those who hear her cannot help but to weep as well. She may return to the same house over and over for many nights. Families which are visited by a yonaki babā night after night invariably fall into ruin.
ORIGIN: Yonaki babā’s behavior is similar to that of a class of spirits called yakubyō gami—minor deities and spirits which bring sickness and disaster wherever they go. Before modern medicine, plagues and natural disasters were often thought to be the works of these spirits. Because repeated yonaki babā appearances are often precursors to the ruin of an entire family, it has been suggested that she may be a kind of yakubyō gami.
Conversely, it has also been suggested the yonaki babā’s arrival may be a divine signal that disaster is near. Rather than bringing disease and ruin herself, yonaki babā may be a kind of divine herald with the duty of warning humans that misfortune, sickness, and death are on the way.