Because I am nothing if not original, I bring you a scary story post for Halloween! Some of you may know that I am an avowed and abject coward who will not hesitate to push my own mother in front of me to get away from a Zombie, if my mother wasn’t considerably more frightening than any Zombie. Love you mommy. As such, you should appreciate the self-sacrifice involved in finding and retyping all the following little drops of nightmares. At least I kept my eyes tightly shut the whole time. Hope this is in English!
Cursed Kleenex Commercial
Soiled pants rating: 1/5
I have actually seen this one a lot. The story goes that in ancient times, 1986, Kleenex released three Japanese commercials, featuring a pretty lady in a white dress and a weird ogre kid, sitting on straw. I don’t know why. I’ve watched this many times and have not once had even the slightest urge to go buy tissues. If anything, the culture clash was unsettling.
In the background, you can hear the song “It’s a Fine Day” by Jane & Barton and some people found the spots disturbing because they said the music sounded like a German curse(?). Yup it’s clearly in English, a language a lot of Japanese kids seem to learn in school. Also, the song is creepy but the ogre baby is all good?
Anywho, over time several rumours began to circulate about the cast and crew involved, claiming members were meeting untimely deaths through accidents or that the lead actress Keiko Matsuzaka had either died, been institutionalized or become pregnant with a demon child.
I would just like to point out that Keiko Matsuzaka is very much alive and has been acting with impressive consistency since 1967. She was in the 2017 movie The Legend of the Cat Demon and has been cast in the upcoming NHK television series Segodon.
There are similar urban legends floating around about the cast and crew of the Exorcist, as well as Poltergeist, although in the case of the latter there are some pretty jarring coincidences.
All in all, I’m pretty ok with this one. I’m fairly certain I wasn’t part of the production of these commercials so I think I’m safe.
Inokashira Park Curse
Soiled pants rating: -1/5
Inokashira Park, in Tokyo has a large lake where people can rent rowing boats and go on little boat ride. This sounds super romantic right? Wrong! Legend says that if a couple rides on a boat together their relationship will end. I wasn’t really able to find a precise timeframe, like is it during the boat ride or 35 years later but in any case it WILL end.
Apparently, this has something to do with a local shrine dedicated to Benzaiten. Girl be crazy jealous so she causes the breakups of those who ride on the boats.
I am not overly fond of commitment so this one isn’t too scary for me. In fact, I think this is a great way to breakup with someone if you want to avoid the uncomfortable talk. Just invite them for a boat ride! I’m joking, don’t do that, it’s a jerk move. A very funny jerk move.
Red Room curse
Soiled pants rating: 4/5
There are a lot of slightly varying versions of The Red Room story but from all accounts this was a somewhat popular flash animation that went viral.
The legend goes that while you are innocently surfing along on the interwebs, searching for sites that will teach you how to be an even more selfless and generous person, you might suddenly get a pop up that shows a red door and a recorded voice asks “Do you like – “. If the pop up is closed it will repeatedly reopen (been there) until the voice finally completes the question: “Do you like the red room?” You don’t really have any options for response at this point but it doesn’t matter that much since you will be found dead and your walls painted red with your own blood.
This particular legend gained a huge amount notoriety when it was found that the schoolgirl who committed the Sasebo slashing in 2004 had the video as a bookmark.
Since this legend is so closely associated with a very serious real-life tragedy, it’s difficult not to find it chilling. I will refrain from making anymore unsavory comments.
If you want to see the original pop up animation, you can find it here.
Aka Manto (Red Cape)
Soiled pants rating: 5/5
So, you’ve had a bit too much coffee, you are now all jittery and desperately need a bathroom break so you dash for the nearest lady’s room. To your relief, only the last stall is occupied and you can quickly stuff yourself in the one next to it for sweet release. All of the sudden, voice asks you if you want red paper or blue paper. How helpful you think.
If you answer red paper, you are killed violently and drenched in your own blood which may not have been the outcome you were hoping for. If you ask for blue, you are strangled or bled dry, leaving your face/skin blue. Attempting to ask for any other colour of paper will result in hands appearing (sometimes coming out of the toilet you’re sitting on) that will drag you into the fires of Hell.
In some versions Aka Manto will ask you if you want a red vest and will then rip the skin from your back. He could also ask you if you want a red or blue cloak which will result in similar fates as the paper version. In any case you should always be suspicious of anyone suddenly offering you random clothing in public toilets. You may want to at least dry clean that stuff first.
The only way out is to refuse politely anything he offers. Rule of thumb for approximately 97% of all situations.
One aspect I particularly like is that Aka Manto is described as wearing a mask to cover his extremely handsome face, which had caused him stalking problems in life. I know that very attractive people are always trouble but we still enjoy their company.
Ok, how much more terrifying can this get. Not only does this creeper target women exclusively but you also have a stranger talking to you while you are, you know. And how does anyone know what his face looks like? Cause if he actually comes into your stall before you can finish your business then death may be preferable.
Gozu (Cow Head)
Soiled pants rating: 3/5
Gozu is a story about a story. More specifically, a story so horrifying that anyone who reads or hears it is overcome with fear so great that they tremble violently for days on end until they die. One particular instance tells of a teacher who was fed up of the kids being absolute little monsters on their school trip and decided to tell them the story. (Did you guys hear about that teacher who threatened students with a Death Note) As he began, the students, one by one, noticed that the teacher became more intense and involved in the story. Soon, the students were screaming for him to stop, but he couldn’t.
Eventually the police found the bus (school trip remember) in a ditch, all of the passengers foaming at the mouth, seemingly in a trance. Once they came to their senses no one could remember how they ended up there. It’s unclear how the teacher knew the story in the first place, maybe it just came to him out of pure hatred.
I think this sounds similar to the Ring or the very underrated (in my opinion) King in Yellow. The only reason I don’t find it more terrifying is because I also find it fascinating as a concept.
Soiled pants rating: 18/5
I have shared my thoughts on the bone chilling anime based on this legend.
Kokkuri is a Japanese version of a Ouija board, which became popular during the Meiji era. To play, one must write down hiragana characters and place their fingers on a coin, before asking ‘Kokkuri-san’ a question. The rumours around this game are pretty much the same as those around Ouija.
Some include Kokkuri-san only telling players the date of their death, while others say you can ask Kokkuri-san anything but you must finish the game correctly, either by saying goodbye to Kokkuri-san before leaving the table or disposing of the kokkuri game utensils within a certain time limit, such as spending the coin or using the pen used to write the hiragana. Failure to do so will result in misfortune or death for the players.
Alright, this is pretty standard stuff. If I forgot to say goodbye or clean up my parents would make sure that evil spirits are the least of my problems.
Kuchisake-onna (Slit-mouthed Woman)
Soiled pants rating: 5/5
Japanese people wear surgical masks for all sorts of reasons so it’s hardly a rare sight to see a woman just walking around with one on. However, if you happen to be a lonely school kid, this woman might ask you: “Am I beautiful?” Anyone who has any experience dating ladies should have alarms bells going off at this point.
If the kid says “no”, she kills them with a pair of scissors. This is a normal reaction and doesn’t mean that was Kuchisake-onna, as any reasonable girl will react this way.
If the poor and properly raised kid says “yes”, the woman will remove her mask to reveal her mouth has been slit from ear to ear. She will then ask “How about now?” which is pushing her luck a bit if you ask me. At this point, the answer is academic. If the kid says no, they are cut in half; if they say yes, she cuts their mouths to be exactly like hers and also kills them. You know lady maybe if you worked on your personality a little instead of caring about your looks so much.
To escape the Kuchisake-onna, one can answer her second question with “You’re average” or “So-so”, which will confuse her allowing them to run like their lives depend on it. Cause they do. We all got that right?
You can also ask her if you are pretty: She will also get confused and just leave. This is a boss move and I love the fact that it’s an option.
One last possibility is to say you have to meet up with your husband/your wife and she will excuse herself and leave, out of depression maybe or politeness. It’s a little odd that this legend is always refers to school children yet it seems to assume they can pass for married.
Capitalizing yet again on our deep-rooted fear of small talk with strangers, you could be comforted by the fact that there are many venues for escape. Sadly, I think my pathological Canadian politeness would probably win over my vanity and I would have to tell her she’s pretty, before asking her what she thinks of me so I’m not surviving this one. Also, am I the only one who finds Kuchisake-onna strangely relatable?
Soiled pants rating: 6/5
Did I mention that beautiful people are bad news? Beautiful women especially should always be considered with suspicion and occasionally thrown into volcanos for good measure. Case and point: The Teke Teke.
Once again, you are just making your way home, not bothering anyone, being a good citizen, when you spot this lovely young girl resting her elbows on a windowsill. You smile, she smiles back. You start imagining maybe you could be friends someday, maybe more… She jumps out of the window, which is impressive since she’s only an upper torso. You are probably about ten feet away having left a you shaped cloud of dust in your wake but make sure you don’t run out of breath.
The Teke Teke is the ghost of a young woman who was pushed onto a railway line and was cut in half by the oncoming train and is now a vengeful spirit bent on mindless violence. She moves impossibly fast on her hand or elbows, her dragging upper torso making a scratching or teke teke sound and if she catches you, she will slice you in half at the torso to mimic her own disfigurement. Some victims even become Teke Tekes themselves.
There is nothing not blood-curdling about this. It’s just a huge bucket of nope. And the Japanese use this legend and imagery all the time. How does anyone ever sleep there?
Toire no Hanako-san (Hanako-san of the Toilet)
Soiled pants rating: 3/5
Let’s say that after your close encounter with Aka Manto you now make sure to check that last stall before you go in the lady’s. You are happy to see that only the third stall of the girls’ bathroom seems occupied. I would like to make it clear that you are in an elementary school for some reason. Emboldened by your good luck, maybe you knock on that third stall to make sure everything’s ok. Because, we already established that having conversations with strangers in bathrooms is the way to go. Maybe you even ask, “Are you there, Hanako-san?”… This one may be a bit on you.
Now let’s say you get an answer such as, “Yes, I’m here!”. Some of you may think, this seems like a good time to mosey on out of here. Other’s may think, hey there’s a school girl in a bathroom stall, let’s open the door. Those of you will see a little girl with bobbed black hair and a red skirt. Two versions of the tale exist. In one, we assume that you are a well-meaning if incredibly stupid individual and your courage will be rewarded with Hanako-san vanishing and you having an aversion to public bathrooms for the rest of your life. In the other, cornering a little girl in a bathroom stall is met with the only sensible outcome, namely you will be pulled into the toilet and killed.
You should know that any moralizing of the above legend was added by me but I stand by the idea that you should not corner children in public bathrooms, ever. I don’t, and I have yet to be killed by an angry bathroom ghost. Proof.
Soiled pants rating: 3/5
Tomino’s Hell is a poem by Saijō Yaso and according to internet legend it will curse anyone who reads it aloud with misfortune and death. I won’t go into this one too much since you can find a wonderful English translation here, as well as a number of very interesting interpretations that go into the poems disturbing imagery.
Exactly how scary you find this will depend on your feelings towards poetry. The expression “transfixed with terror” comes to mind.
Soiled pants rating: 4/5
This one is a little less common but did you know that apparently there is a 90 foot cannibal skeleton roaming the streets of Japan at night. You can tell when it’s getting close because the vibration of its gnashing teeth will cause an odd ringing sensation in your ears but otherwise it’s surprisingly light-footed, moving with disarming speed and completely silent grace.
Seeing as the Gashadokuro is made from the skeletal remains of starvation victims its motivations are pretty straight forward. It just wants to eat you and pretty much everybody else. Thankfully it will spare you annoying questionnaires and embarrassing bathroom visits. Now that’s a rational monster.
I blame the Japanese tourism bureau for not alerting us to this guy earlier. Have they learned nothing from American politics? The cover up is always worse than the crime (it most definitely is not). The sad part is, I still want to visit.
Soiled pants rating: 4/5
Noppera-bō are just straight up trolls. Their name actually means “faceless creature” and I assume you are already shivering.
All the Noppera-bō really do is scare the living pants right off any unsuspecting humans they come across. They appear at first as ordinary human beings, sometimes impersonating someone familiar to the victim, before removing their super realistic masks, leaving a blank, smooth sheet of skin where their face should be. You will never get that image out of your mind.
This said unless you happen to have a weak heart, they are generally harmless. All they are is unspeakable aberrations of nature bent on inflicting everlasting terror in the hearts of men. Still better than most trolls.
Soiled pants rating: 5/5
Kashima Reiko was a young woman from Hokkaido, who was brutally attacked and left to die in, you guessed it, a bathroom. She somehow managed to crawl some distance, until she collapsed unconscious on a railroad, where a train sliced her in two…. She now roams the land searching for her legs, mostly in school bathrooms cause that’s where all the fun stuff happens in Japan.
I firmly believe that someone was offput by the fact that the Teke Teke legend didn’t feature nearly enough bathrooms and tweaked it into this version. Oh and did I mention that if you read about this spirit, it supposedly appears in a month. Yeah, I’ve killed us all, sorry about that.
In conclusion, what you need to remember is that if you ever go to Japan:
1- Don’t ever go anywhere by yourself, alone, ever;
2- Don’t be a school aged child, drop out if you must;
3- Definitely don’t be a woman, that’s basically asking for it; and
4- Whatever you do, never ever EVER go to the bathroom.
Hope you enjoyed some of that! I just realized it’s roughly 4 times longer than my average post. Now that’s truly frightening. Happy Halloween!
Time for my favourite demon
Suggested drink: a Last Word
- Every time you hear an unidentified creaking sound – take a sip
- Every time a shadow doesn’t belong to anyone – take a sip
- Every time you see a pretty girl with long straight black hair – say hi (dude, pretty girl!)
- Every time you see a blood splatter – analyse it
- Every time you see a scythe – take a sip
- Every time there is a black cat – take a sip
- Every time someone tells a ghost story – listen
- Every time a character is in a halloween costume – cheer
- Every time your partner wants to talk about the future – run
32 thoughts on “Even Urban Legends are Scarier in Japan”
Weren’t those the cast of Shirobako with the masks? 🙂 I’m not sure of all of them but I thought that was Aoi on the right.
Followed you on over from this years post (2018) and now I’m afraid to go to any public toilet or talk to pretty women with masks. Good on ya! 😀
I have had to hold it until I get home for a year now…
This is a great list. I love urban legends. As they’re passed from one person to another, they’re subtly tweaked, tapping into our collective unconscious.
I think the ones that really stand out to me are the ones that pose a question or otherwise give you a way out. I’ve always loved horror that featured rules which govern the monster, giving victims a chance, if they can keep their wits.
Me too – even if I know very well I would not be one of those who keeps their cool…
Spent part of this afternoon watching Teki Teki. It definitely belongs on this list. Very Creepy.
Darn it Irina! I was fine until the teke teke gif! That scared the hell out of me! Also, when I was little I was afraid of the monster in the toilet…. So thanks… Lol
Oh man, this post as tailor made for you! I really wonder why the Japanese are trying to make us scared of the bathroom…
Bruh black cat cross my path; luck still good. 😀
That’s not luck – that’s skill dude!
I’m pretty sure it’s a white cat with some specific look that actually brings bad luck, though.
Black cats are just as iconic in the 21st century. We continue to associate them with magical powers, whether good or bad. In some places, they are still believed to be symbols of good luck:
– Scotland; a black cat appearing on your doorstep is a sign of prosperity
– England; in the Midlands, a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride
– France: In the south of France, black cats are referred to as ‘matagots’ or ‘magician cats’ and according to local superstition, feeding and treating them well will bring good luck to the owner.
– Northern Europe; it is believed that taking in and caring for a black cat can ensure fair weather and safe passage during voyages on the sea
– Asia; owning a black cat is considered lucky
– Italy; if you hear a black cat sneeze, you are in for a streak of good luck
– Japan; black cats are a symbol of good luck – if they see a black cat crossing their path, they say ‘Konichiwa’ and take control of their own luck
Do you like my copy pasta?!
Anyway, it’s all a superstition so believe in whatever the hell you want rofl~
I actually I love your copy pasta.. I was just about to look it up. You is a genius Shoka!
Great stuff. I am somewhat reassured by the knowledge that most of these homicidal spirits appear to do their work in the ladies’ room; I assume one can remain safe simply by his preferred place to do his business being the gents’.
Or maybe I’m just setting myself up for a horrible death. Either way, thanks a lot for ensuring I won’t be sleeping tonight!
Actually you may have a plan there, I’ll stick to the gent’s as well
Haha…man where do you sometimes come up with these things: soiled pants rating 😂😂😂 I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Honestly, I found the kleenex commercial one of the scariest things. That commercial was just incredibly disturbing and creepy. Really….it was just very unsettling. Truly an awesome and well written post! Keep them coming 😀
Off topic….see only 3 more followers and you have hit the 200 followers mark 😀😀 I’m not the only one who thinks your blog is amazing! 😀
Thank you and I know…I’m thinking there’s 97 bots there…
For some reason, I have watched or read some variation of the urban legend at some point except the Kleenex commercial. I enjoyed reading the way you described them. I find the Park one the funniest because, how is breakup even scary? :v
Seriously, what’s with bathrooms? Ghosts can do whatever they want with me, but please not in the bathroom. That’s got to be the dirtiest place for death.
First the Yakuza baths now you’re inviting ghosts…Oishi there is such a thing as “too brave”
😂 Ghosts are a safer bet. Just look at these Japanese ghosts, they always ask questions before killing you. Polite till the very end!
Great post. The Slit-Mouthed Woman is one of my favourite urban legends 🙂
Yeah, this was awesome!
I absolutely love horror stuff, even though I get scared. I enjoy that too, lol.
The slit mouthed woman is cool, but do I have have to still study for my tests next month? Pst, Kashima Reiko, pst.
Heh. Best stay away from the bathrooms for a bit.
This post may have some unforeseen consequences…
um… you’re welcome?
It’s definitely a very vivid imagery