There are messed up countries and then there is Japan, a place of beauty and creepiness. They have dozens upon dozens of urban legends (and some apparently true) that would make you think twice if you really want to visit the country or not. Well, at least in the evening.
So, Japanese urban legends, amirite? Never fails to creep me out. I hope they creep you out too!
Kushisake Onna, or the woman with a split mouth, has messed me up quite a bit during my regular evening walks. Although I don’t live in Japan, the fear still lingers.
Legend has it that Kushisake Onna would, at night, jump out in front of you and ask “am I beautiful?” If you answer no then she will split you into two. But if you answer yes, she will pull off her mask and ask “how about now?” If you answer no, then bye bye to this beautiful world. But if you say yes, she’ll slit your mouth the same way as hers.
And no, you can’t outrun her because she can teleport.
How to stay alive: don’t answer her directly. Simply say, “I’m a little occupied at the moment, sorry” and walk away. She won’t do anything to you unless you answer yes or no.
Ushi no Kubi
Or Cow’s Head. The modern version of this urban legend is that people who hear about this story apparently either just die or commit suicide days later. One account is a bus filled with students and their teacher. As the tour went on, the teacher was telling them a story about Cow’s Head. It was all a daze for the teacher, like he was in a sort of trance and couldn’t stop.
The story is so creepy that everyone in the bus fainted, including the bus driver. Days later they died.
The story about Cow’s Head originates from the early years of the Meiji Era when a census was ordered by the emperor. One official arrived in a deserted town. No one was there except for what seemed like bones of animals. When he arrived to the next village, he asked the innkeeper what happened to the other village’s people. The innkeeper said that during the famine, everyone in that village became so desperate to the point where they ate each other.
One evening, as the official was about to sleep, he saw a man running outside the village wearing a cow’s head being chased by the villagers. In the morning he asked the innkeeper what the fuss was all about and was told that it was a “Cow Chasing Festival” and offered no further explanation.
When the official returned to the capital, he verified the story of the innkeeper about the cannibalism that took place on the first village he went. It was true, they died off from eating each other, but it wasn’t just them. The second village where he stayed were involved too, that they were the ones who ate off the first village.
Once in a while they would elect a person to be the sacrifice, the food for the village, and have him or her wear a cow’s head just to look less human.
How to survive: there are many variations of this story, people would threaten to tell this story during camp outs or sleepovers because it’s so creepy it would kill anyone who’d listen. So, don’t tell this story and don’t listen to it especially when you’re in Japan.
Or Red Cloak. “Heard you were talking shit about me,” said the guy above.
It is said that Aka Manto would randomly appear in toilets, asking unsuspecting people if they’d rather have a red or blue cloak. Just having someone talk to you while you are doing the deed is already creepy, but I bet it’s far creepier if it’s someone who’s wearing a mask!
If you answer red, then your throat will be slashed open, with blood gushing out of you that resembles a red cloak.
If your answer is blue, then you will be strangled until you are blue, with tongue lolling out.
How to survive: answer neither and pray to the lord almighty that Aka Manto will accept the answer and leave you alone to shit in peace.
This story is about a woman who was so heartbroken (or very poor grades, depending on the version of the story) who committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. Only, she did not die instantaneously. Her upper body was severed from her lower and died painfully slow.
Once in a while she would roam during the evenings on train stations, running after scared kids. If you happen to be in Japan and are afraid of meeting up with Teke Teke, you are right, you should be afraid. Because if Teke Teke manages to catch you, she will produce a scythe and would cut you in half just to express the same miseries she’s had while alive (and apparently while dead).
If you are not Usain Bolt you probably won’t have a chance of outrunning her. Even though she doesn’t have her legs, she’s been curling it at the gym and she can run quite fast with her hands alone.
How to survive: rule number one is to exercise cardio. Run, be fast, and have the stamina. Or simply don’t leave your house during nighttime.
Or human pillars in English. It is said that, in ancient Japan, in order to build strong and long-lasting buildings a sacrifice to the gods must be made. This was done by sealing humans inside constructions as an offering to the gods. If the gods are pleased, the construction will last long. From castles, temples, tunnels, bridges, just about anything.
And apparently this was found to be true. People actually found skeletons inside pillars of some old mine in Japan.
What makes this particularly creepy is that this actually happens not only in Japan, but in several places across the globe. Some countries believe that spilling the blood of children on bridges would make it stronger. But Japan is Japan and they’ve taken it up one notch: seal living humans inside.
How to survive: well, maybe don’t travel back in time and be an ass?