In Japan ghost stories don’t have to wait until autumn, traditionally they are told in the middle of August to “cool the blood” during the heat of the summer. As we get ready to head back to school, it’s a great time to cool down and prepare to give our classmates or students the creeps. Here are five freaky Japanese urban legends:
Hanako- San (Hanako of the Toilet)
The least creepy ghost on this list, Hanako is the spirit of a young girl that is said to haunt girls’ bathrooms in schools. She specifically always haunts the third stall. There are many tales about how she came to be spending her afterlife in a toilet. Some say she was killed during an air-raid during World War Two, others, that she was murdered by her parents or killed herself in the bathroom.
Regardless of how she got there, she doesn’t seem to be angry about it. In most legends, she is a benign ghost. If you want to see her you have to go to the third stall in the girls’ school bathroom (preferably on the third floor if there is one) and knock on the stall door three times and then ask, “are you there Hanako-San?” The asker will then hear a voice say, “I’m here.” If you enter the stall after the ghost replies, you will see a little girl with bobbed hair wearing a red skirt. Or in alternate versions of the story, you might see a white or bloody hand reaching out of the toilet.
Aka Manto (The Red Cloak)
Staying with the ever-popular creepy bathroom theme. Aka Manto is another toilet ghost. He can appear in any public bathroom, not just school bathrooms, and he is usually found in the last stall. Aka Manto appears as a masked spirit wearing a red cloak, but if you see him, it’s already too late.
You know if your stall is haunted by Aka Manto if you hear a voice asking you, “red paper or blue paper?” while you are sitting on the toilet. If for some strange reason, you decide to speak back to the voice, the only safe answer is “no paper.”
If you say “red paper,” Aka Manto will appear and kill you in a gruesome fashion that will result in you being covered with your own blood. If you say “blue paper,” you will be strangled, turning your face blue. If you decide to be a wise-ass and ask for a different color of paper, Aka Manto will drag you to the underworld. In addition to saying, “no paper,” the other safe choice is to ignore the spirit’s question. Sounds like a good plan to me.
Kuchisake-Onna (The Slit-Mouthed Woman)
Kuchisake-Onna is a vengeful spirit that doesn’t just wait for you in bathrooms. People encounter her on the street, and actual police reports have been filed about her chasing children. Legend has it that Kuchisake-Onna was a beautiful woman who was married to a Samurai. After she cheated on him, her husband cut her mouth into a Glasgow smile ( like the Joker), and she bled to death.
Now she appears as a woman wearing a surgical mask ( a common practice in Asia) and carrying a long pair of scissors. She will ask, “Do you think I’m pretty?” If you say “yes,” she will use her scissors to cut your mouth to look like hers, and if you say “no,” she will cut you in half with her scissors. If you just try to run away, she will appear in front of you no matter which way you turn.
It is rumored that the only way to escape her is to confuse her so that she gives you a moment to run. Some say that you can do this by asking her, “do you think I’m beautiful?” or by answering her question saying, “you’re average.” Other legends say you can throw candy at her feet and run when she bends to pick it up. But some versions warn that even if you escape from her, she will hunt you down and kill you.
The Dream School
We’ve all had that nightmare about school, but if you remember the story I’m about to tell for more than a week, you might find yourself stuck in it forever.
The story goes that a boy named K was having a dream about a strange school. He was walking through the school at night when everything was dark and empty. He heard footsteps echoing through the halls, and none of the doors or windows would open. The hallways were an endless loop that always brought him back to the same spot no matter which direction he went. As he went past the music room after wandering for a while, he started to hear the ticking of a clock Kin…Kon…Kin…Kon. He heard the sound of heavy footsteps chasing him.
Depending on the version of the story he either found a key in the teachers’ lounge that had the number 108 on it or he just ran from the footsteps and found that the door to classroom 108 was the only one that was open. When he opened the door to room 108, he saw a horrifying scene. A creature made from the limbs, torsos, and heads of students was hobbling around in a gruesome dance. K was trapped in the dream, and he still wanders that haunted school in his mind.
The Cow’s Head
This story is the hardest to tell because nobody actually knows what it is. Legend has it that a school teacher was taking his class on a field trip. To keep their attention on the bus, he decided to tell horror stories. He started to tell the story of The Cows Head. His eyes glazed over, and his students listened in horror to the unspeakable things he was saying. They screamed and cried for him to stop, but in his daze, he couldn’t hear them. The teacher blacked out, and when he woke up, the school bus was in a ditch. The driver had passed out, and the students were twitching and foaming at the mouth.
Some say that the story of The Cows Head has been around for hundreds of years and that it had such a horrible effect on readers that almost every copy of it was burned. We’ll never know just what’s so terrible about it, but if anyone tries to tell you this story, stop them before it’s too late.