Japanese Urban Legends: Terrifying Tales

Demons Mysterious Paranormal

Japan is a culturally rich country that has held a belief in the occult part of the world for centuries. They have countless folklores and superstitions involving supernatural demons, monsters, etc. Throughout the years, these creepy tales and ghost stories have circulated and made way for more contemporary myths that take into account the popular culture and modern-day life of Japan. Often times these urban legends are incorporated into schools in order to teach children valuable life lessons such as how one shouldn’t talk to strangers. But mostly, they are supernatural beliefs about the strange things that lurk around and haunt the country of Japan. In this article are listed some of the more widely-believed and creepier Japanese urban legends.

Aka Manto

Also known as the Red Cape, this Japanese urban legend is perhaps one of the most popular, having been featured in TV shows and also video games. The tale consists of an attractive man wearing a red cape who haunts the Ladies’ washrooms of Japan. Whenever someone uses the last stall of a washroom, Aka Manto asks them if they would like to have red (toilet) paper or a blue one. Answering with red gives the person a bloody death, and blue gives them death by suffocation. Naming any other color would lead them to be dragged down to hell by the man. The only way to escape would be to politely refuse any offer or just simply ignore the man. Aka Manto usually haunts the fourth stall in deserted washrooms as the number ‘4’ is believed to be associated with death.

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Teke-Teke Girl

This one is the story of a school-girl who met a violent death by being thrown towards an incoming train that sliced her body in the middle. It is believed that she now haunts Japan as a vengeful spirit who wishes for everyone to suffer from the kind of pain she did. She crawls on her hands and elbows (since she has no legs), making a teke-teke sound that gives her this name while carrying a scythe. Usually, she resides near cars and windows, or anywhere where she can easily find a body to disfigure. The only way to escape is by running, which is hard—she is extremely fast. Some variations of the legend say that she is out to search for her lost legs and may take someone else’s instead.

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Shinigami is a Japanese evil spirit that sends the message ‘evil begets evil’. It is a term that refers to spirits of the dead. They linger near places where someone has recently died, to spread the death and surrounding negative energy. They possess the bodies of humans and make them have extremely violent thoughts. These people become awfully paranoid and overthink about the smallest of inconveniences in life, which leads them to eventually commit suicide.

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Although Shinigami mostly haunt wicked people, anyone who is unlucky enough to be possessed by them suffers from a painful death. In order to avoid the Shinigami, places where people have died need to be purified with proper rituals. Only that can break this cycle of death.

The Fatal Fare

This folklore is one that concerns Japanese Taxi drivers. According to the legend, a person arrives out of nowhere on the street and stops the taxi. He then asks the driver to take him to a place the driver hasn’t heard of before but assures that he knows the directions. They gradually keep getting further and further away from the city, arriving nowhere. If at any point the driver turns back to look at the passenger, they find that the mysterious passenger has disappeared. When they again look in front, they will find that they are about to head off a cliff. In order to avoid falling into this trap, taxi drivers in Japan must make sure they only take passengers to places they are aware of. A little caution can go a long way!

Kuchi-Sake Onna

Kuchi-Sake Onna is a woman who was apparently caught cheating on her husband, by the husband himself. In a rage, he slit her mouth open from ear-to-ear and mockingly asked her “Who will find you so pretty now?” before he killed her. She is now said to haunt those who walk alone at night. She first asks them if they find her pretty. Saying no, of course, gets them killed while saying yes leads her to open the surgical mask she wears on her face, to show her fatal wound. She then repeats the same question. Again, saying no means getting instantly killed, while this time saying yes leads her to slit their face in the same way as hers is. It seems that the only way to save oneself from Kuchi-Sake Onna is to distract her and run away, but some say that even then she eventually finds her victims somehow.

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This is another Japanese urban legend about haunted toilets and a slightly different version of the ‘Bloody Mary’. It is said that a little girl who died when a bombing raid hit her school haunts the third stall of the third-floor washrooms in schools. To call her, one must knock three times on the door of such a washroom and ask— “Are you there, Hanako-San?” She will then reply that she is. There are many variations as to what happens next. Some say that the spirit of Hanako-San then drags the person away with her and murders them, while many believe that she only raises a bloody hand in response.

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