the online database of Japanese folkore

Nasu babā


Translation: eggplant hag
Alternate names: nasubi babā
Habitat: Mount Hiei
Diet: none; she exists as a spirit only

Appearance: Nasu babā resembles an ugly old hag. Her skin is dark purple and her face is said to resemble an eggplant with teeth. She haunts Mount Hiei, around the Enryaku-ji temple complex. She is known as one of the “Seven Wonders of Mount Hiei.”

Behavior: Despite her grotesque and frightening appearance, nasu babā is not a wicked yōkai. She spends most of her time lurking in dark rooms around Enryaku-ji or wandering around Mount Hiei, away from prying eyes. However, when there is a disaster at the temple, she warns the people living there by ringing the temple’s bell.

In 1571, Oda Nobunada attacked Enryaku-ji and set fire to the temple complex. The fleeing monks reported seeing through the flames a disheveled old woman ringing the temple’s bell to alert the mountain to the danger.

Interactions: On the rare occasions that her path crosses with a human’s, she greets them with a big smile. The shock is often enough to cause the human to faint, but nasu babā is able to revive them with her magic and send safely them on their way.

Origin: Nasu babā was once a human woman. She was a high ranking noble woman who lived hundreds of years ago and served in the imperial court. However, due to some crime she committed (some say that she killed an animal and ate its flesh, others say that she committed a murder) she was damned to go to hell after she died. For the remainder of her life, however, she was repentant of her sins, and asked the buddhas and the priests of Enryaku-ji to forgive her. Therefore, even though her body descended into hell, her spirit was able to remain on Mount Hiei. To this day, out of her gratitude to the buddhas, she comes to warn the temple when disaster strikes.

Alphabetical list of yōkai