Japanese horror has carved out more than a niche in the hearts of fright fans around the world, so it should come as no surprise that ghost enthusiasts and those generally looking to never go to sleep have taken to reading through Japanese urban legends. Here is our selection of some of the most popular and discussed Japanese urban legends. If you're familiar with any of them, you'll understand that there tend to be variations based on regions of Japan, as well as ways to supposedly survive these bone-chilling encounters. One other thing many have in common: the message that the bathroom is just not a safe place.

Kuchi-Sake Onna (Slit-Mouthed Woman)


Source: YouTube

Perhaps the most famous thanks to depiction in popular media and terrifying images that are essentially the equivalent (and way better) "Jeff the Killer" of Japan. The legend of Kuchi-Sake Onna, as many Japanese urban legends do, originates from the tragic death of a woman. Legend says that a husband found out his wife was cheating on him, and in a rage slit her mouth open from ear to ear, mockingly asking her "Who is going to find you so pretty now?!" before she died. Her spirit preys on people walking alone at night, who she appears in front of wearing a surgical mask.

She will ask them "Do you think I'm pretty?" Answering "no" will get you killed with scissors, while answering yes will have her remove her mask, revealing her wounds, and you'll be asked again more aggressively. Saying "no" to this will again get you killed with scissors, but if you say "yes" she will cut your mouth so that you now look like her. Other variations say you can distract her, or that you are doomed to find her waiting to kill you in your home regardless.


Source: YouTube

Teke Teke and Kashima Reiko


Source: YouTube

These two urban legends are often mentioned together, and sometimes rumored to be the same spirit. Both involve sinister apparitions missing their legs, who have no problem inflicting the same gruesome demise on you. Teke Teke is the spirit of a Japanese woman who died after falling onto the train tracks (sometimes said to be suicide). She usually distracts you from a window, catching your eye with her beauty. She then reveals her bloodied torso, and while you are stunned rushes at you in frighteningly speedy spider-like walk using her claw-like hands (the sound of them clacking on the ground is "Teke Teke"). If you can't outrun her, she will slice you in half.


Source: YouTube

Similarly, Kashima Reiko is one of many Japanese ghosts said to haunt bathroom stalls, particularly at schools. After being beaten and abused by a group of men, she crawled around on her hands and knees calling out for help in vain. She collapsed on railway tracks and was severed in two. She will appear before victims and demand to know where her legs are. The only correct answer is "On the Meishin Expressway", but even if you answer correctly she will ask you who told you that (answer Kashima Reiko), and then try to trick you with "Do you know my name?" If you answer "Kashima Reiko", she will rip you to bloody pieces. The correct answer is "Mask Death Demon", as it is the true meaning of her name. (Ka = mask, Shi = Death, Ma = Demon)


Source: YouTube

Hanako-San of the Toilet


Source: YouTube

Japanese urban legends have a thing for haunted bathrooms, as you may have noticed. Hanako-san was used often as a means of initiation or a trial of terror in schools, much like Bloody Mary. Hanako's origin isn't always agreed upon, but many claim she was a little girl who tragically passed away when a bombing raid hit her school--explaining her appearance as a WWII-era Japanese school student. She is said to haunt the third stall in restrooms on the third floor of schools. You must knock three times on the door and ask "Are you there, Hanako-san?", to which she will reply that she is. At that point, any number of things can happen depending on regional versions of the legend. She may raise a bloody hand in response, she may actually be an oversized lizard who then eats you, or a malicious spirit who will murder you and drag you into the toilet.

Aka Manto (Red Cape)


Source: YouTube

Another Japanese ghost who lurks in bathrooms, but is much more unsettling and gruesome than Hanako. Most versions of this tale tell of a ghost who wears a mask to cover his handsome face, which caused him to attract stalkers when he was a human. Haunting the last stall in girl's bathrooms, he will suddenly appear and ask if his victim wants red or blue toilet paper. Asking for red, he will violently carve into you until your clothes are soaked in blood. If you ask for blue, you will be strangled until you die and your face turns blue. Some variations feature a cloak instead of toilet paper, and even the ghost ripping the skin off your back. While you may pick a third color, there are conflicting theories on whether this will grant you survival, or have you swallowed up by the ground below.

One rumor at schools is that a girl heard a voice in the stall next to her's ask "Shall we put on a red vest?" She ran out scared and called the police, who came to investigate. One cop waited outside while his female partner went into the stall. There she heard the same question, and her partner heard her answer "Put it on!". He heard a loud scream and commotion from the stall, and when he rushed in, she had been decapitated and her vest soaked in blood.

The Red Room


Source: YouTube

One other trend you may have picked up upon in Japanese horror is the theme of haunted or cursed media. In this case, The Red Room is an ominous pop-up on your internet browser. The story starts with one boy telling another about the ghostly pop-up, while the more skeptical boy scoffs at it and goes home to search. After searching to no avail, the pop-up shows up with an image of a red door. A recorded child's voice repeatedly asks "Do you like~?", and the pop-up continually reappears even when closed. Eventually the full message is displayed, asking "Do you like the red room?", along with a list of names, the very last of which is the name of the boy who told him about the Red Room. The boy then senses something behind him and hears the child's voice from within his room. Neither of the boys return to school, and are rumored to have taken their lives and their rooms painted in blood.

The legend is tied into a real-life incident, the Sasebo slashing, where a Japanese girl murdered her classmate. It is claimed that one of the most recent tabs in the murderer's browser history was The Red Room.

Gozu (Cow Head)


Source: YouTube

One of the more bizarre urban legends, but perhaps all the more terrifying because of its unknown nature. The Cow Head is said to be the most terrifying story ever told, and that anyone who hears it in full will tremble for days, and that within the story is one particular detail that will kill whoever hears it. Because of this, this one line of the story is shrouded in mystery.

The most popular story about the legend tells of a school teacher traveling with students on a bus. Trying to calm them down he begins telling them The Cow Head story. The students beg and plead with him to stop before he has barely started, but the teacher becomes catatonic, his eyes grow white, and he speaks as if he has been taken over by an unknown force. When the teacher comes to, he finds that the bus has crashed, and that all the children are trembling on the ground, frothing at the mouth.

Tomino's Hell


Source: YouTube

A dark and disturbing poem by Yomota Inuhiko that became a part of Japanese macabre folklore, thanks in part to 2ch message boards. It tells of the punishment and damnation of a boy, and it is said that anyone who reads the poem out loud will suffer tragedy and a horrifying fate. It can be read in its entirety here. If you really want a challenge, you can listen to this popular horrifying reading.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.