Japan has a rich culture that comes in various forms indulged in its history, its art, its music, well, pretty much everything is a part of Japan’s awesome culture. One notable classic belief in Japanese legends are its scary, creepy, ghost stories.
Here are a few well-known Japanese scary legends that will make you stay up late at night!
Just a fair warning, the following might end up pretty scary for you (uh-huh) so make sure you’re not alone… Or are you really?
Top 3: Kuchisake-onna
Scare rate: 7/10
Kuchisake-onna was a beautiful young woman in a certain village in Japan. She felt so confident of her looks, and so every day she would roam around the village and ask random folks the same question;
Am I pretty?
To which of course, they would answer yes enthusiastically.
Eventually, she got married to an intelligent Samurai warrior. To test it out, she tried having an affair with a noble soldier and get away with it. Unfortunately for her, the Samurai caught them. Furious, the husband asked the soldier why out of all the women in the village, he chose his wife.
As noble as the soldier could get, he then answered truthfully that he cannot let pass an opportunity to love the most beautiful woman in their village. The Samurai adored the soldier’s honesty and acknowledged his nobleness. As an intelligent warrior, he knew what had to be done. The Samurai then took a pair of scissors and badly cut her mouth from ear to her, making her no longer the beautiful woman that she was. His husband knew that without her beauty, she was nothing.
Soon after, she killed herself with a gun and falling off a bridge. It is said that her soul came back to seek revenge, able to possess anyone and travel everywhere she wants.
The legend which dates back to the Edo period is said to either possess a woman or take the form of a masked woman who approaches people at night. As always, she would ask them the same question which literally makes your life hang on whether you’ll get to see another day, or not.
Once she has asked you if she is pretty, you have no choice but to answer. Answering no means a fast and certain death, and answering yes would mean she would cut the person’s mouth same as hers.
In case you do encounter Kuchisake-onna, there are handy tricks you can use to confuse her. When she asks ‘am I pretty?’ Answer back with ‘so-so’ or ‘you’re average’. You can also say ‘maybe’, which will definitely give you a few seconds to run away.
Top 2: The Story of Oiwa and Tamiya Iemon
Scare rate: 9/10
Oiwa’s story is based on real-life events which took place during the Edo period. Over and over, this story has been played and became one of the most famous Japanese ghost stories. Her story is a tale of betrayal, hurt, trust, murder, and revenge.
The Back Story
As the story goes, it was said that Oiwa was wedded to a Samurai named Iemon. His husband wasn’t the ideal man to be with, for he was a thief and a wasteful man. Oiwa who had enough of her Iemon’s toxic attitude left the guy and returned to her family. Iemon tried to follow her but was stopped by Oiwa’s father, Yotsuya Samon.
Samon knew the bad traits of Samon and so he demanded that the man divorce Oiwa. Furious, Iemon drew out his sword and murdered Samon on the spot. He then arrived to Oiwa’s home and declared that his father was killed by a stranger. He then promised to avenge his father’s murder which led to Oiwa remaining by his side.
Eventually, Oiwa bore a son. Soon after she became sick and so Iemon slowly resented her existence. Next, to their home, a rich doctor named Ito Kihei lived with a beautiful granddaughter named Oume. Oume liked Iemon and wanted to marry him. And as the supportive grandfather that he was, he began prescribing Oiwa an ‘ointment’ which was actually poison to slowly disfigure her face.
Afterward, Kihei then suggested to Iemon to divorce Oiwa and marry his granddaughter instead. As bait, Kihei then offered Iemon to be his successor and would inherit all their family’s wealth.
Iemon began selling all his and his wife’s property so he’d have the money to marry Oume. He also hired his friend Takuetsu to rape Oiwa and would accuse her of infidelity so there’d be a valid reason to divorce her.
A dreadful life indeed
So on a prearranged night, Iemon left the house as Takuetse sneaked in and would proceed as planned. However, he felt horrified when he saw Oiwa’s face and abandoned his mission. Takuetse told Oiwa Iemon’s plan and showed her a mirror. She wasn’t aware of what the ointment had done to her face and so she panicked upon seeing his disfigured appearance.
Trying to hide her hideous face, she tried to cover it up with her hair. To her shock, bloody clumps of hair fell off where she had touched it. This then made her mad and crazy that she grabbed a nearby sword and cut her own throat. As she was dying, she continued to curse Iemon repeatedly until her last breath.
Iemon’s servant Kohei found the body of Oiwa. He then reported this to Iemon who, to Kohei’s surprise and doubt, was overjoyed instead of grieving. But before he could do anything, the Samurai Iemon murdered Kohei, nailing him and Oiwa’s body to a door and disposed of them both in a river. Afterward, he told everyone that Oiwa and Kohei were having and affair. This finally gave way for Iemon to mary Oume.
So what’s the scary part?
Remember the part where Oiwa cursed Iemon in her last breath? Well, it wasn’t for nothing. On Iemon’s wedding night to Oume, he had trouble sleeping. When he rolled over, he saw Oiwa’s horrible face beside him. Scared as he was, he picked up his sword and slashed it through the face he saw.
A few moments later, it became clear that it was only an illusion and it was really Oume that he had cut. Oume was left dead on the floor with a deep cut caused by his husband. Iemon felt so terrified and went to see his father in law’s help. Upon arriving, he again was confronted, this time, by the ghost of Kohei. Again he slashed his sword then after a while realized he saw the dying Ito Kihei’s body on the floor.
Lemon fled, hoping Oiwa would follow him. But he was wrong. Oiwa pursued him no matter where he went. His ex-wife visited him in his dreams, crying for vengeance.
Gradually, Iemon’s sanity left him. He tried isolating himself but didn’t actually give any effect to the ghost. It even came to a point where Iemon was no longer able to distinguish reality and illusion for what Oiwa had done to him.
Top 1: Inunaki Village
Scare rate: 9/10
There is one village in Japan that is so scary no one really is eager to set foot in. Inunaki village’s existence is still debatable even today.
But according to legends, you’ll see a post stating that the constitution and the laws of Japan do not apply in the village. Its people are said to be murderers, cannibals, and other horrifying humans. Any electronic device is useless. Many adventure-seekers tried searching for Inunaki village, but unfortunately, no one has actually returned from their quest.
This definitely places a big X mark on your must see places in Japan.
Japan definitely has many hidden mysteries up its sleeves! It’s fascinating to read and watch, but very scary to actually experience firsthand.