Japanese Urban Legends
- The Red Room story is an internet legend about a pop up which appears on the victim’s computer. The image simply shows a red door and a recorded voice asks “Do you like-“. Even if the pop up is closed it will repeatedly reappear until the voice finally completes the question: “Do you like the red room?”. Those who have seen the pop-up are found dead, their walls painted red in their own blood.
- Aka Manto is a spirit which haunts bathrooms, usually the last toilet stall in the women’s/girl’s bathroom. Some versions describe him as wearing a mask to cover his extremely handsome face, which had caused him stalking problems in life. When the unlucky victim is on the toilet, a mysterious voice will ask them if they want red paper or blue paper. If you answer red paper, you are killed violently and drenched in blood. 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 other versions the ghost will simply 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. The only answer that will spare the person is to refuse anything he offers.
- Fatal Fare: This story concerns a lone taxi driver making his way along a road during the night. Legend goes that a person will suddenly appear from the night darkness and hail the taxi. The person will only ever sit in the back of the car and will ask to be taken to a place the driver has never heard of. When the driver mentions this, he is assured that he will be given directions. The passenger then feeds the driver increasingly complex directions which leads them down streets and alleys, through many towns and even in some instances all the way from the city to the countryside. After traveling this distance and still seeming no closer to any destination, the driver becomes uneasy. He turns around to the back seat to ask the passenger exactly where they are – but he is suddenly shocked to find that the passenger has vanished. The taxi driver turns back to the steering wheel; only to drive off the edge of a cliff.
Gozu (Ox-head), also known as Cow Head, is a Japanese urban legend about a fictional story called ‘Cow Head’. Supposedly the Cow Head story is so horrifying that people who read or hear it are overcome with fear so great that they tremble violently for days on end until they die. One variation involves a teacher who tells a bored group of school children the story, resulting in both children and teacher becoming catatonic and losing their memory. Other variations include the detail that no one is able to retell the story since they die after hearing it.
- Jinmenken are dogs, but with human faces that supposedly appear at night in Japanese urban areas and run along highways at extremely fast speeds. The jinmenken can also talk, but reports say that they will either be rude or will ask to be left alone. Unlike most Japanese urban legends, the human-faced dog is not widely known to kill those unlucky enough to meet it, though they are said to be escaped scientific experiments or the spirits of road crash victims.
- Kokkuri is a Japanese version of a ouija board, which became popular during the Meiji era. Rather than using a pre-bought board with letters and a Planchette, ‘players’ write down hiragana characters and place their fingers on a coin, before asking ‘Kokkuri-san’ a question. This is a popular game in highschools and, similar to the western ouija board, several rumours and legends surround it. 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 which wrote the hiragana. Failure to do so will result in misfortune or death for the players.
- The Teke Teke is the ghost of a young woman who fell on a rail way line and was cut in half by the oncoming train. Now a vengeful spirit, she carries a scythe and travels on either her hand or elbows, her dragging upper torso making a scratching or teke teke sound. If she encounters anyone at night and the victim is not fast enough, she will slice them in half at the torso to mimic her own disfigurement and they will sometimes become Teke Teke’s themselves. Versions of the legend include a young school boy walking home at night and spotting a beautiful young girl standing by a windowsill resting on her elbows. When she notices him, she jumps out of the window and onto the pavement in front of him, revealing herself to be no more than upper torso; she then cuts the boy in two.
- Toire no Hanako-san is a famous legend associated with Japanese elementary schools. The story tells of an omnipresent ghost who is thought to be the spirit of a student who committed suicide due to excessive bullying or “ijime”. However the entity is also known to just appear for no apparent reason. Hanako-san is a popular legend in elementary schools in Japan, and supposedly haunts the third stall of the girl’s bathroom. Characterized by a pair of stark gleaming eyes, the spirit scares any person who sets eyes on it. Not known to be malevolent or vicious in any way, Hanako-san is simply an eerie entity that only serves to severely scare its victims.
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