Do you enjoy a nice, cool swim on a hot day? Perhaps you are particularly averse to receiving a cooling dose of urine at the local swimming pool? Maybe you just like the sand beneath your toes as you walk the beaches, choosing a nice, quiet, isolated spot from the rest of the city plebs.
You put down your towel, throw off the constricting second skin that is your clothing, and head toward the waves.
But hark! You spot a woman in the water; long black hair flowing around her alabaster skin as she flails weakly. With speed and grace to rival the very best studs of the Baywatch era, you fling yourself into the oddly calm waters and swim her way.
You swim toward the endangered beauty, your eyes meeting as you work desperately to save your drowning Ophelia.
…except that now you seem to be paralyzed. Also, Ariel now appears to be using her long, prehensile snake-body to gracefully close the romantic distance between you. Perhaps, you consider, she simply wishes to save you from this terminal case of leg cramps? Perhaps the piercing of your tender man-flesh by her snake-like tongue is some odd form of mermaid CPR? No, you are now being slowly digested by the Snake Woman, or, “Nure-Onna”.
The moral of the story should be fairly obvious: Don’t try to save a drowning woman. She could be a snake-monster in disguise!
#7: Human Pillars (Hitobashira)
If Soylent Green taught us anything, it’s that there are a great many practical uses for the human body. Japan reminds us just how practical they can be by presenting the Hitobashira, or, “Human Pillars”. Seeing as the country is already one at the technological forefront, we have to assume that if Japan tells us, “hey, it’s okay to seal living people inside walls and foundations, it’ll make that shit more durable!”, it has to be true! Right? Right? Because fuck cement!
Dating as far back as the 17th century, the story goes that as an offering to the gods, living people could be sealed into buildings as sacrifices, which would apparently please the great LEGO gods and ensure stability and longevity to the construct in question.
Bones and other remains have been found on-site of several different locations, lending at least some possibility that human sacrifice may have been involved in the making of these buildings. One such location is Jomon tunnel, located on the Sekihoku Main Line. In 1968, in the aftermath of an earthquake (or possibly due to pissed off ghosts) a number of skeletons were discovered sealed into the walls of the tunnel, standing upright. But then, maybe Japan just gets really uptight if you abuse your smoke breaks one time too many.
Seeing as many of these structures stand today, perhaps modern workers should take note: Just how dedicated are you to your job?
#6: Hanako-San of the Toilet
Because Japan just loves to punish you for basic bodily functions, this urban legend takes place in a washroom: specifically the third stall from the end of any elementary school washroom (in some variations, it’s on the third floor). Unlike the previous urban legends, where the creatures will come at you unprovoked, Hanako needs to be summoned. Though the idea of luring a ghostly little girl into an empty bathroom falls further from “scary urban legend” and closer to “that paedophile on the news last week” than we’d like.
In order to call Hanako, you need to do the polite thing and knock three times on her stall door. This is usually accompanied by calling out, “Are you there, Hanako-san?”
If you are greeted with a reply, “Yes, I’m here!”, apart from pissing your pants in terror, you can push open the stall door to reveal Hanako. Said to be a little girl with bobbed black hair and a red skirt, the outcome of your courage (or dumbfounding retardation) differs: Hanako-san will vanish or, for the more shit out of luck (in every sense of the word), you will be pulled into the toilet and killed.
If you knock on her stall and receive a reply (and assuming you don’t immediately break the laws of physics during your escape), you still have the opportunity to walk away if you do not open the door. If, however, you insist on cornering little girls in toilet stalls, you may have just enough time after seeing Hanako to make a break for the exit and escape.
#5: Cow Head
Everyone loves a good scary story; that false sense of fear that fills you with adrenaline if you happen to be short of cocaine that particular day. Of course, once the story is over and you’ve succeeded in giving your younger sibling bed-wetting night terrors, everything should go back to normal. Unless it doesn’t because you’ve apparently died of fucking fright.
The story of Cow Head is apparently so terrifying, so horrific, so psychologically soul-wrecking, that the exact details of the tale have long since been lost. To hear it would leave you a violently trembling mess for days until you eventually died of fright (much like the effects of Stephanie Meyer’s writing on most of the general public). However, due to what Cracked assumes must be its Ringu-like superpowers, no full variation is known today, though mention of it can be found in various written accounts dating back to the 17th century. We must assume it is hard to recount a story to anyone if you’re…you know…dead.
As the story itself remains largely unknown, there is little threat that you will hear Cow Head being passed around your cub-scout campfire any time soon.
#4: Giant Skeleton (Gashadokuro)
If you are visiting Japan and find yourself staying out a bit too late into the night, you might re-consider taking that short route through the quiet streets in favour of booking a nearby motel. Not for fear of anything practical like street crime or the aforementioned perverts…
…but rather for the 90 foot cannibal skeleton tailing you home. You’re likely to hear this oversized Halloween decoration before you spot it, as it announces itself by the sound it makes with its gnashing teeth and an odd ringing sensation in your ears (caused by what we presume to be your sonic-like shriek at the sight of a skeleton the size of a building hovering over you).
Moving with the quiet grace of a towering ballerina, the Gashadokuro will catch you unawares and deftly pluck you from where you stand. Cleanly removing your head like a Ken doll, it will sate its otherworldly thirst and anger by swigging your lifeblood like a delicious smoothy.
Seeing as the Gashadokuro is made from the skeletal remains of starvation victims, buying the thing a cheeseburger might not be a bad idea.
#3: Red Cloak/Red Mantle (Aka Manto)
Let’s assume for a moment that you, like many, enjoy the basic human function of going to the bathroom. Perhaps you’ve had a few too many servings of sake and make a mad dash for the ladies toilets closest to you. This article assumes you are either a lady yourself or one of those beloved perverts so popular to the Japanese culture.
As you enter the bathroom and try to avoid physical contact between your ass and the scurvy-infested toilet sear, you suddenly hear a voice.
“Do you like the red cloak or do you like the blue cloak?”
After sitting uncomfortably for a few seconds, wondering what possessed someone to break the cardinal rule of keeping their mouths shut during toilet-time, you answer with hesitation:
“The Red Cloak!”
According to your answer, there are a variety of hilarious outcomes: If you answered “Red Cloak”, you will be sliced apart like a steakhouse special. According to who is telling the story, your throat may be cut, your hands chopped off, or you will simply be cut into pieces until the blood flowing down your fricasseed remains resembles a “red cloak”.
Well Shit! You may be thinking, I’ll just answer “blue cloak” then!
Good idea, captain. Now take a deep breath! You’re going to need it when the life is being slowly strangled out of you. The result leaves your humorously tongue-lolled face a strong blue. Thus, the “blue cloak”.
Sitting in your stall and ruminating on your options, you may be wondering which of these two you prefer? Well fear not, intrepid Cracked reader! Due to the foresight of reading this article, you are well prepared! According to some variations of this legend, choosing a third color or choosing “neither” will spare you a gruesome death…or cause the very earth to open under you and swallow you alive.
Japan is to suicide what America is to apple pie. Nowhere is the theme more prevalent, as the locals will check out for any reason: from bad relationships to poor grades. Ghost stories are no different, as the majority of urban legends involving spirits usually stem from the unhappy Casper jumping headlong into the path of an oncoming train or stringing himself up from the closest available chandelier.
The Teke-Teke is said to have been a woman who either jumped or fell in the path of an oncoming subway train and was severed in half. Seeing as being cut in half can sort of ruin your day, her anguish and anger gave rise to the Teke-Teke. Now, she roams throughout Japan in the form of a torso, dragging herself along with her claw-like hands. The sound she makes while moving is described as a “teke-teke-teke” sound as she propels herself using her elbows to frightening speeds (why is there no F1 circuit for this sort of thing?)
Assuming you haven’t already left a trail of dust and piss in your wake, the Teke-Teke will launch herself toward you like the world’s angriest sideshow attraction, produce a scythe, and cut your slow ass in half. Teke-Teke produce more Teke-Teke this way, as you are doomed to become one yourself if caught.
Told mostly as a cautionary tale to keep children from staying out past dusk, we suggest you listen to your overbearing mothers and not stay out too late.
#1: Split Mouth Woman (Kuchisake-Onna)
The moral of most Japanese urban legends seem to consist of “don’t go anywhere by yourself. Ever.” The story of the Kuchisake-Onna, or “Split Mouth Woman” is no different. Except that you are doubly unfortunate if you happen to be a child (We assume your legs are stubby and slow and we can thusly outrun you).
If you happen to be a snotty pubescent walking alone one day, you might consider taking a different route if you are suddenly approached by a female figure in a trench-coat. Now, before you assume that this will be a harmless display of kibbles and bits, rest assured: You will be shown something. Unfortunately, it will not be the coveted boobies.
The Kuchisake-Onna will appear as a tall woman in a trench-coat with long, black hair. Her most telling feature is the surgical mask covering the bottom half of her face.
She will approach you and ask you a question: “Am I beautiful?”
If you reply, “No!” Your troubles are over. Mainly because she will produce a comically oversized pair of scissors and remove your head. Ah! You’re thinking, So I’ll answer “yes!” In which case she will remove her mask to reveal her grotesquely mutilated face, her smile sliced from ear to ear. “Am I still beautiful?” She will ask again.
If you have some kind of twisted Joker fetish and reply, “yes”, she will take the aforementioned scissors, chase you down, and slice you in half. If you reply “no”, she’ll do it anyway. Some people just can’t be satisfied.
If you don’t fancy a haircut with too much off the top, your best bet is a neutral reply, such as “You’re so-so”, or “average”. This will confuse the Split Mouth Woman, giving you just enough time to run like all the hounds of hell are at your heels (or in this case, a crazy bitch with a giant pair of scissors)