8 Famous Japanese Ghost Stories That Will Give You Goosebumps | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

8 Famous Japanese Ghost Stories That Will Give You Goosebumps

By Steffie Josephine Aug 28, 2021

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When you think of Japan, what comes to mind? It’s beautiful sakura? Shibuya, Harajuku, and Tokyo? The unique culture? Sophisticated technology? Fresh, delicious sushi? Yup, that’s what most people think about Japan. But, just like other countries, Japan also has its own interesting urban legends. For readers who like scary stories here are 8 Japanese ghost stories that will make your neck hair stand up on edge. I challenge you to read this article right to the end!

A Terrifying Collection of Famous Japanese Ghost Stories

1. Kuchisake Onna

japanese ghost stories

Kuchisake Onna, or Slit Mouth Woman is a story about a beautiful woman who was killed gruesomely by her own husband because she was caught cheating with another man. Her husband slit her mouth from ear to ear so she would no longer be the most beautiful in the village. She shouted for help but no one came. Bound and mutilated, she died and became a vengeful spirit. Her ghost is often seen with a mask covering her mouth and asks people on the street, “Am I beautiful?” or “Watashi wa kirei desuka?” in Japanese, then she will open her mask and show her torn mouth! Whatever your answer is, it’s better to run away first…

2. Teke-teke

japanese ghost stories

Teke-teke is the legend of a girl who was killed by a train, her body was divided into two parts. This girl is named Kashima Reiko, after died, she became a curious spirit and haunts Japanese toilets. She will ask strange questions to her victim, if the victim can not answer her question, she will ask for both legs of the victim. In another version of the legend, this ghost often shows herself near the station where she died without legs and crawls with her hands to catch her victims. Although she has no legs she can run really fast. How would you like to compete with her?

3. Aka Manto

japanese ghost stories

Aka Manto can be found inside the woman’s toilet. When it’s quiet and the victim is alone, this ghost will ask “choose a red cape or blue cape?” or in another version, he will ask for red or blue tissue paper. If the victims choose red, he will cut the victims’ necks and mouths until they are covered in blood just like a red cape. If the victims choose blue cape, he will strangle the victims until the body become blue. And if they choose another color, the victims will be brought to another world. So if you are in the toilet alone and are interrogated about a cape, it’s better to run away as quickly as possible!

4. Hanako san

japanese ghost stories

This urban legend is famous in Japan. It tells the story of a girl who haunts the school’s toilet. This girl always stays in toilet number 3 on the 3rd floor. To call Hanako san, people can knock the door up to three times and ask if she is inside the toilet. If she is inside she will reply with a chilling call. What happens next depends on the version of the story, whether the victim will be pulled into the toilet or is attacked by Hanako-san, neither one has a happy ending.

5. Onibaba

japanese ghost stories

Onibaba is a monster disguised as an old woman in order to approach humans. After you appear comfortable in the presence of the old woman, Onibaba will kill you with her knife and eat you. Onibaba lives in caves, small houses, or some legends say she lives in an empty house surrounded by rice fields. There is a museum in Adachigahara with a pot and knife claiming to be the one used Onibaba to kill and eat humans.

6. Ghost Hide and Seek

japanese ghost stories

This ghost usually hides behind the gap in your house. If you accidentally see it, you will be asked to play hide and seek with it. If you succeed in finding it, you will be brought to another world! There is another version where this ghost is called Hitori Kakurenbo, and you can play hide and seek deliberately to test your guts, asking the ghost to be your partner in the hide and seek game. Whether you will find the ghost or not, both are fatal. My advice is, don’t do it! Just find a real human partner to accompany you in playing hide and seek…

7. Okiku Doll

japanese ghost stories

Collecting dolls is a common thing, but what if it turns out that your doll’s hair continues to grow? Wouldn’t that be strange? That’s what happens to Okiku doll. This doll’s appearance is just like other dolls, nothing unusual at a glance. The doll is 40cm and is shaped like a girl in kimono with shiny black eyes. What’s strange is, Okiku’s hair grows by itself. Although there is a tradition to cut the hair to shoulder length, the hair will still grow. According to its origin, this doll was bought by a man to be given to his sister named Okiku, and she really cherished the doll. But, one-day Okiku experienced a severe injury, she died, and the doll was buried along with her body. Maybe the doll was cursed so the hair keeps growing.

8. Nopperabou

japanese ghost stories

This flat face ghost, Nopperabou in Japanese, is a ghost with an ordinary human figure but a flat face. This ghost often appears friendly at first. The ghost will cover its face with a hand-held fan when interacting with other people so they do not realize who is they are talking to. When their prey is off guard, the ghost will show its face and scare people until they run in fear.

What Are Your Favaourite Japanese Ghost Stories?

Those are some very famous urban stories from ancient times to the modern era. What would you do if you met these ghosts? Whether you believe it or not, my advice is to be vigilant! Greetings from the other side!




Note: this article was originally published on 6th September 2018 and edited and republished on 27 August 2021.

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