Japan is surrounded by strange stories of the supernatural and the paranormal. It's one of the things that attracted me to Japan. In the light of Halloween coming I unearthed and illustrated three Japanese urban legends which creeped me out. Are they true? I'll let you decide. The fourth and last story is my own personal experience, and remains unillustrated because of how much it freaked me out.
Yurei is the Japanese ghost. Not all Japanese ghost will look the same. However, there are certain characteristics you must look out for when you go out ghost hunting. A yurei may wear a white kimono that is worn right over left, a triangular headdress, long black hair that is very straggly, no feet, and may be seem with hitodama. Hitodama translates into human souls, but in English we would know them as orbs.
1) Wet Woman
She is said to be the head of a woman and the body of the snake. She dates back from the Edo Period. Although her true purpose remains unclear, it is said that she is supposed to lure people to water with the intent of 'killing' them. Other stories tell of the woman simply washing her hair and getting irate if people interrupt her.
Moral of the story is to not interrupt her ... or never interrupt any woman when she is beautifying herself.
2) Snow Woman
The Snow Woman supposedly died in snow, so therefore she only appears in snow. She is said to be very stunning in her beauty and has long black hair and dressed all in white. As she moves she leaves no trace of footprints in the snow. Do not let her looks deceive you. Beautiful as she may actually be, she serves the purpose of luring travelers to her. She has only one intent in mind.
3) Slit-mouthed Woman
This is probably the most creepiest of all the urban legends that I researched. She is definitely not someone I would want to encounter anywhere in Japan. The story goes that her husband attacked her with scissors. Since then she is said to roam the streets and stopping strangers and asking them the question, "Do you think I'm pretty?"
Now then this situation is a slightly tricky one. If you answer "no", then she will do the worst. If you answer "yes", then she will remove her mask and show you her face and ask you the same question. If you answer "no", then she will do as above. If you answer "yes", then she will get her scissors and make your mouth the same as hers so that you can both be pretty. The situation is a no win one. In more recent versions of the legend it is said you can outwit her by asking her an ambiguous question back and then run away. Hmmmm..... not really sure about that one.
Grey Man in the Elevator
In August of 2016 during the Bon holiday, I found myself with a week off work. One of the things that I opted to do was go to karaoke. I went to the karaoke building and called the elevator. I noted that the building had nine floors, but the elevator only had five stops. The fifth floor was the entrance to the karaoke.
I stood and waited for the elevator. After a few minutes I was joined in line by two young men and a man that was in his forties. He was wearing grey. The elevator arrived and the doors opened. The elevator was extremely small. We all got into the elevator and the man wearing grey walked straight past me and stood facing the mirrors with his head down in the corner of the elevator.
The elevators doors snapped shut and we all went up to the fifth floor. The doors sprung open and the two young men got out. I followed next, and I turned around to hold the doors open for the man, and he's disappeared. I look around. There was no way that he could have physically got past me and the two men without knocking into us. The assistant then called to us in Japanese, "Is it three of you for karaoke?" At that point I release the doors and the elevator went back down to the first floor.
At first I thought I might have been going crazy. That man who was wearing grey clothes was as solid as any human. He was reflected in the mirror, and it was not like anyone hadn't seen him. The elevator didn't stop until we got to the fifth floor, and he had been there the whole time we travelled up.
So ... where did he go? I even guested on a paranormal podcast to discuss it, because I was so baffled and freaked out.
I hope you have a very spooky Halloween!
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