Japanese urban legends are among some of the scariest that the world has to offer. They range from the believable to the absurdly supernatural. Wherever they fall on that scale, they’re always sure to send a chill down your spine. Here are 5 urban legends from Japan, some fun, others disturbing. Read on, if you dare.
5 – Sony Timer
This one isn’t really creepy. It’s actually more frustrating than anything, especially if you’re an electronics enthusiast. The story is that Sony installs a device in all of its products that will cause it to malfunction just after the warranty expires. A former president of Sony has said in a stockholders meeting that he was aware of the “Sony timer” myth. He did not, however, refute the claim. The plot thickens.
4 – Dream School
Ok, with that practical one out of the way, let’s move onto something a bit more paranormal. A young boy dreams that he is wandering an old school at night. As he continues down the twisting hallways, he becomes more and more disoriented and always winds up back where he started. He even tries to climb the stairs, but still finds himself back on the first floor.
Suddenly a clock chime sounds, and he begins hearing footsteps behind him. He starts to run down the hallway and finds a box on the wall that he for some reason assumes holds a key, but the glass box has been broken and the only thing inside is a note that tells him the key is in room 108.
The footsteps continue pounding after him, so he runs as fast as he can to room 108. Somehow, he knows instinctively where this room is within the maze-like school. He arrives and opens the door. Inside the room are the butchered bodies and severed appendages of young boys and girls. He feels that this should be the moment he wakes up, but he doesn’t. It’s said that he still wanders the school to this day.
It should also be mentioned that if you read this story, you will die one week from now. Hmm, should have put that as a disclaimer up above. Oops.
3 – Kiyotaki Tunnel
Next, let’s move on to supposedly real places that you can actually visit in Japan. The Kiyotaki tunnel is a single lane road that connects the popular tourist town Arashiyama near Kyoto to its neighboring town of Sagakiyotaki.
The tunnel is said to be built by slaves. While building the tunnel, many of them suffered horrible deaths from accidents and bad working conditions. There are also reports that the heavily forested areas surrounding the tunnel are popular suicide spots, combine all of this with a very long, 444-meter tunnel (4 is an unlucky number in Japan, since the sound of the word is the same as the word for death–both are pronounced, in some readings, as shi), and you’ve got yourself a site ripe for ghost sightings.
Such events as a woman’s tortured screams, the tunnel changing in length, the traffic lights on either end of the tunnel suddenly changing and causing traffic accidents, and visions of spirits are some of the strange things you might encounter there. All of these events are known to occur at night, so alternate routes are recommended.
2 – Inukaki Village
Dog’s Cry Village sure sounds like a great place for a vacation. This abandoned village in Fukuoka Prefecture is a place that you will never return from if you visit, according to the legends surrounding it. There are many stories of how this village met its end. One version says that a serial killer with an axe murdered all of the inhabitants, another says that a disease struck and the village was left to fend for itself, and yet another says that people still live there but abide by none of Japan’s laws, creating a haven for incest, murder, and cannibalism.
The truth is the village suffered a flood in the late 1950s and never recovered. Some people have said the gate that blocks the road leading to the village has signs that say Japan’s laws don’t apply there, but really, they only warn against entering because of unsafe conditions. Still, you may not want to test your luck in such a place.
1 – Himuro Mansion
Just outside of Tokyo, the Himuro family owned a large estate where they performed a gruesome Shinto ritual. According to legend, the mansion was built on a place where bad karma could seep up into the world, so to seal away this evil force, the family would act out “The Strangling Ritual.”
A girl from the family would be chosen at birth and secluded from the outside world. When it came time to perform the Strangling Ritual, the family would bound her wrists, ankles, and neck with ropes and have a team of oxen pull either side. After she was quartered, the family would soak the ropes in her blood and lay them over the portal entrance, sealing away the bad karma for a half century.
During the last ritual (which happened between 30 to 50 years ago depending on what source you believe), the girl who was chosen fell in love with a man who tried to save her. Because she had created a tie to the outside world, the ritual failed and the head of the family, fearing what would happen since they had failed, killed all of the other family members and himself. The mansion is said to be haunted by those family members and by all of the girls who were used as sacrifices.
This all sounds super spooky and gruesome, but in reality, no one has ever found this mansion that supposedly exists on the outskirts of one of the largest metropolitan centers in the world. In reality, the legend that was just related is the basically the same story as the popular PlayStation 2 survival-horror game Fatal Frame. In all likelihood, it was a marketing ploy for the game that got woven into the collective consciousness. In any case, it was good publicity for the game, as well as a bit of false advertising… supposedly.