Terrifying Japanese Urban Legends to Keep You Up at Night

japanese urban legends

Spine-Chilling Japanese Urban Legends That Will Keep You Up at Night

Japan is known for its rich culture and stunning scenery. Yet, it also harbors dark stories and frightening legends. These tales have been shared for years, reflecting deep-rooted fears in Japanese society.

What are Japanese urban legends?

Japanese urban legends are a fascinating part of the country’s folklore. These tales are deeply embedded in the culture and have been passed down through generations. From ghostly encounters to supernatural creatures, these legends captivate both locals and tourists alike. Japanese urban legends are scary stories, part of Japan’s rich folklore. They’re tales about ghosts and monsters that have cultural and historical roots. They often reflect what people fear the most.

1. Kuchisake-onna (The Slit-Mouthed Woman)

Kuchisake-onna (The Slit-Mouthed Woman)Image: Source

Kuchisake-onna, also known as the Slit-Mouthed Woman, is one of the most frightening characters in Japanese folklore. According to the legend, she is an attractive woman who wears a surgical mask, which is common in Japan. She approaches her potential victims and asks, “Do you think I’m beautiful?” If they answer negatively, she kills them using a pair of scissors. If they say “yes,” she reveals her disfigured, slit mouth by removing the mask and asks the question again. No matter the response, she still takes their lives. This myth is thought to have originated in the Edo period and experienced a revival in the 1970s.

2. Teke Teke

Teke TekeImage: Source

The story of Teke Teke has haunted Japanese children for decades. It tells of a woman or schoolgirl who fell onto a railway line and was cut in half by a train. She moves her upper torso using her elbows to pull her body along, producing the unsettling “teke teke” sound. It is said that if she catches you, she will slice you in half to mimic her own disfigurement. This tale gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, adding to the rich tapestry of Japanese ghost stories.

3. Aka Manto (Red Cloak)

Aka Manto (Red Cloak)Image: Source

Public restrooms are the setting for the legend of Aka Manto, or the Red Cloak. This spirit is said to haunt the last stall, offering red or blue toilet paper to unsuspecting users. Choosing red results in a violent death, while choosing blue leads to strangulation. Any attempt to choose a different color or refuse to choose also results in a grim fate. This tale originated in the 1930s and serves as a haunting warning about the perils present in seemingly mundane places.

4. Hanako-san

Hanako-sanImage: Source

The spectral form of Hanako-san is well-known to Japanese schoolchildren. To call her, one must knock thrice on the third stall of the school restroom and inquire, “Hanako-san, are you present?” If she answers, she may drag you into the toilet. Since the 1950s, this tale has been a popular subject of discussion among children, turning school bathrooms into sites of spooky experiences.

5. Hitobashira (Human Pillar)

Hitobashira (Human Pillar)Image: Source

Hitobashira, or Human Pillar, is a legend rooted in ancient Japanese practices. It is said that people were buried alive at the base of buildings, dams, or bridges to protect these structures from disasters. The spirits of these unfortunate souls are believed to haunt the places where they were sacrificed. This practice and the resulting legends date back to early historical periods in Japan, reflecting the deep-seated beliefs in the supernatural.

6. Gozu (Cow Head)

Gozu (Cow Head)Image: Source

The legend of Gozu, or Cow Head, is shrouded in mystery. It is said to be a story so terrifying that anyone who hears it dies of fright. This legend’s exact details and origins are unclear because it is supposedly too horrifying to be retold. Despite this, the story of Gozu continues to intrigue and terrify those who come across it.

7. Kokkuri-san

Kokkuri-sanImage: Source

Kokkuri-san resembled the Ouija board and was well-liked in the late 19th century during the Meiji period. Participants use a coin and a piece of paper with letters and numbers to summon spirits and ask them questions. It is said that these spirits can possess or harm the players, adding an element of danger to what might seem like an innocent game.

Why are Japanese urban legends so popular?

Japanese urban legends are popular because they play on our deepest fears. They tell stories that warn us against bad deeds. These tales also show what Japan values, like honoring the dead and believing in the supernatural.


These are just a few examples of the many Japanese urban legends that continue to intrigue and fascinate people worldwide. Whether it is the thrill of encountering a supernatural being or the desire to explore the hidden depths of Japanese culture, these legends serve as a reminder of the rich storytelling traditions that have shaped Japan’s folklore for centuries. So, the next time you visit Japan, be sure to delve into these haunting tales and discover a whole new dimension of the country’s vibrant mythology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *