Japanese Horror Legends

Kuchisake Onna

I’ve come across different time origin stories, some say this is an 800-1200-year-old legend or while some say it’s a recent urban legend. Anyway, I’ll share the one I liked best. 

There was a beautiful and vain woman who was very proud of her beauty. She was married to a samurai, but he was rather simple looking. The samurai was highly insecure and kept doubting and accusing her of cheating on him. She too never failed to remind him about his ordinary looks and her own beauty. At one point, the samurai was so overcome by his madness & jealousy that he slit opened her mouth from ear to ear & then taunted her – “Who will think you are beautiful now?” Some stories claim the woman was found cheating on the samurai and that’s why he slit her mouth. After she died, he kept seeing her face everywhere until the point he lost his mind and killed himself. 

Since then, the woman returned as Kuchisake Onna appearing in a kimono with her sleeve covering her face in the olden days. However, nowadays, its believed she wears trenchcoats with a surgical mask covering her face. Given the high level of national concern for cleanliness and protection from infectious diseases, a surgical mask is a common accessory in Japan. She’s found to haunt empty streets and paths late at night and approaches any person who walks alone by her haunt asking them the same question: 

“Watashi, kirei?”

(Am I beautiful?)

If you answer No, she’ll kill you right on the spot. (You must be pretty dumb to say that to any woman for that matter

If you answer Yes, she opens her surgical mask, giving you an exclusive look at that Joker-esque face. And then she repeats the question –

“Kore demo?”

(And how about now?)

If you answer her No this time, she’ll kill you right on the spot (though this time it wouldn’t be your fault)

If you don’t give her an answer & try to run away from her, she’ll be faster and jump in front of you to ask the question again. She would keep asking you until you gave her a definite answer. 

And finally, if you answer her Yes, then she’ll slit your mouth from ear to ear and kill you. Umm, yes, she’ll kill you for a Yes too. (You have practically no choice, as is generally the case with women)

In the 1970s, there were rumours circulating that the Kuchisake Onna was haunting and killing children which were later even found out to be true as many kids with slit mouths were found. Though whether this was the work of Kuchisake Onna or a serial killer wasn’t confirmed. The story again caught fire in the 2000s when sightings of Kuchisake Onna increased manifold and the people were terrified. During the course of these sightings people have come up with the unique and weird ways of getting rid of her – 

  1. Throw hard candy at her as she loves it.
  2. Shout Pomade Pomade Pomade (Pomade=a kind of hair gel which she hates)
  3. When she asks you the second question, how about now, answer her “So-so”. This will confuse her giving you ample time to run away from her.

They say that the more you talk about Kuchisake Onna the more powerful she grows. But that’s the thing about Japanese horror stories, they’re so interesting, how could one stop talking about any of them?

In case you were wondering how she might ;ve looked.

Scary Bathroom & Toilet Legends

The love of Japanese with toilets & bathrooms is widely known. That they come up with highly interesting latest gadgets & contraptions for toilets & bathrooms is a natural consequence. But their love is not limited only to gadgets, their love for these places is deeply rooted in their culture which can be seen through the following urban horror legends. 

  1. Hanako San: I strongly believe Moaning Myrtle’s character was based on this girl. Hanako was a schoolgirl who might’ve been ugly, fat or for some reason the target of her classmates’ jokes. Eventually, one day, she locked herself in a bathroom stall in the school & died a tragic death. It’s believed one could summon Hanako San by calling out her name three times while standing outside the third stall of the third-floor bathroom of a school (supposedly that’s the place where she died). At this, a ghostly hand should appear out of the stall, if you’re lucky. Or you might just get pulled into the stall by her ghost and kill you off. Summoning Hanako san is one of the popular dares in Japanese high schools. Because, that’s what you do in high schools, right? Summon weird toilet ghosts!!!
Our shy Hanako San
  • Aka Manto: This one’s funny yet terrifying. You’re in school, when you urgently need to go sit on the toilet. Suddenly, while you’re doing your business on the pot, you hear a male voice behind you: Red Paper or Blue Paper? (Obviously referring to the toilet paper). Before you get all excited about the level of service offered in Japanese toilets, try choosing an option & see. If you chose Red, you have two options; You can either get your throat slit OR You can get the skin on your back torn off, consequently, turning you Red. On the other hand, if you choose Blue, you just get choked to death, turning you Blue. And in case you try acting smart and say some other color or white maybe, you still get killed in some gruesome way or another. Supposedly, the only correct answer is No Paper. 
  • Kashima Reiko

This one’s a fairly newer urban legend and as such doesn’t enjoy quite the popularity (read: sightings) as the others do. However, the story is still terrifying enough and worth knowing, as these Japanese ghosts are quite fond of riddles & the best way to win at riddles is to know the answers beforehand. It’s said Kashima Reiko was a schoolgirl who was brutally raped and left for dead by a group of men, after which she crawled around on her hands and knees calling out for help, but in vain. Eventually, she ended up on the railway tracks where a train ran over her severing her body into two. Since then, she appears before her victims in school bathrooms (usually girls) and asks them “Where are my legs?” If you answer incorrectly, she cuts off your body into half severing your legs from your body. Though many versions say, you get killed even if you answer anything else, except the correct answer i.e. “On the Meishin Expressway”. 


Insert Image

Tomino’s Hell:

In 1919, a famous writer by the name of Yomota Inuhiko released a book titled “The Heart is like a Rolling Stone”, in which were a Sajio Yaso’s collection of poems. Amongst these poems, is a poem called Tomino’s Hell, which is cursed. There’s a firm belief, that you should always read this poem in your mind and NEVER out loud. If you read it out loud, tragic things will happen, or you’ll be dragged to Hell. Few years back this story was very popular, and people used to post pictures of them reciting the poem out loud. Many claimed it to be a hoax however, with them being perfectly safe and immune to Tomino’s Hell. However, there are also quite a few people who never returned back online and vanished altogether. I’m sharing the original poem in P.S. with a STRONG WARNING (Do not play and take risk on such matter).

These are just a fraction of the total number of ghost legends in Japanese folklore. It feels natural to have a diverse collection of ghost stories in a country like India which is so huge and diverse in culture and food. However, in a small country like Japan, the abundance of ghost stories/ legends etc is Legen…wait for it…Dary. We shall explore more of them as the week progresses.  



Tomino no Jigoku (Tomino’s Hell)


Saijo Yaso



ane wa chi wo haku, imoto wa hibaku,

His older sister vomited blood, his younger sister vomited fire,


kawaii tomino wa tama wo haku

And the cute Tomino vomited glass beads.


hitori jigoku ni ochiyuku tomino,

Tomino fell into Hell alone,


jigoku kurayami hana mo naki.

Hell is wrapped in darkness and even the flowers don’t bloom.


muchi de tataku wa tomino no ane ka,

Is the person with the whip Tomino’s older sister,


muchi no shubusa ga ki ni kakaru.

I wonder whose blood is on it?


tatakeya tatakiyare tatakazu totemo,

Hit, hit, without hitting,


mugen jigoku wa hitotsu michi.

Infinite Hell’s one road.


kurai jigoku e anai wo tanomu,

Would you lead him to the dark Hell,


kane no hitsuji ni, uguisu ni.

To the sheep of gold, to the bush warbler.


kawa no fukuro niya ikura hodo ireyo,

Fit as much as you can into the leather sack,

無間地獄の旅支度。mugen jigoku no tabijitaku

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: