The Ubume is a mythical creature from Japanese folklore, and its name translates to “pregnant woman” or “childbearing woman.” The Ubume is often associated with ghostly and supernatural elements, particularly related to maternal themes. This creature is not a malicious spirit but rather a tragic figure tied to the themes of motherhood, childbirth, and compassion. The Ubume is often depicted as the ghost of a woman who died during childbirth or shortly after giving birth. In some stories, it is described as a disheveled and ghostly figure, still carrying a baby or showing signs of recent childbirth.

Image of an Ubume, a mournful spirit, holding her child in the moonlight


Clutching a Child: The Ubume is often portrayed holding a baby or cradling an infant.

Tattered Clothing: The Ubume is sometimes depicted wearing tattered or ragged clothing.

Expressive Eyes: The eyes of the Ubume may be depicted as particularly expressive, conveying sorrow, longing, or a sense of urgency.

Unearthly Aura: As a supernatural being, the Ubume is believed to emit an otherworldly or ghostly aura.


During periods in history when maternal mortality rates were higher, especially in the absence of modern medical practices, the loss of mothers during childbirth was a poignant and common occurrence. The Ubume legend may have developed as a way to express and cope with the grief associated with the deaths of women during this vulnerable period of their lives.

Stories of the Ubume often emphasize the spirit’s sorrow and its continued maternal instincts, as seen in its concern for the welfare of the child it leaves behind.

Ubume seen at dusk, a symbol of maternal love and loss


Ghostly Presence: The Ubume is portrayed as a ghostly figure, lingering in the mortal realm after death. While this isn’t a “power” in the traditional sense, the lingering presence of the Ubume is integral to the emotional impact of the folklore.

Maternal Concern: The central ability attributed to the Ubume is its continued concern for the well-being of its child. In some versions of the legend, the Ubume may seek help or assistance for the infant it left behind.

Test of Character: In certain variations of the Ubume legend, the spirit may present a test to those it encounters. This test often involves offering the child to passersby. If the child is accepted, it becomes extraordinarily heavy, revealing the supernatural nature of the encounter.

Associated sites