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Ten Scariest Japanese Urban Legends

Scary Japanese urban legends are aplenty, but here are the top ten scariest.

From the Japanese film Carved


10. The Fatal Fare

I will admit that this urban legend isn't exactly unique to Japan, which is why it's last on this list. I couldn't ignore it though, because it's still plenty creepy.

The story follows an experienced taxi driver going about his route one night. He picks a man up and the man gives him directions, but not giving him an exact place to go. Despite the man's livelihood being made driving around Tokyo, he doesn't recognize the route the man is asking him to go on. By the time that the taxi driver realizes that something is wrong, it's too late. He looks into the back seat, and his passenger is gone.

And a second later, the taxi is flying off a cliff: It's his final ride.

9. The Cursed Kleenex Commercial

The year was 1986 and all Kleenex was trying to do was make an advertisement for their product. They didn't intend for it to be as creepy, I imagine.

The advertisement has an unsettling song playing in the background. There is a toddler dressed as a Japanese ogre and a woman lovingly looking after the child. It's unsettling, but the rumors that surrounded what happened to the actress, child, and staff make this truly eerie.

It's believed that the actress died, went insane, or gave birth to an Oni (a Japanese ogre that I forgot the name of). It's also said that the toddler in the video died.

I don't think either one of those things is true but it's a creepy video none the less.

8. Aka Manto

Translated to English, Aka Manto means the Red Cape. Although, this spirit has little to do with articles of clothing. No, he has everything to do with elementary school bathrooms.

It's said that when a student goes to the bathroom, usually using the last stall, they will go about their business and then discover that there is no toilet paper there. That's when a male's voice will come from behind the person, asking if they want red or blue toilet paper. Neither option is a good one. Red, you end up bleeding out on the floor. Blue, you get strangled to death.

There are other variations, some more mature than others. It's said that trying to trick him by saying any other color will result in just... being dragged to hell by Aka Manto.

7. Kokkuri

This urban legend's spooky factor was killed slightly when I kept coming across a manga series about a magical fox and a teenage girl. Regardless...

Kokkuri-san is something like a Japanese ouija board. There's a Japanese gate at the top of the board, 0–9, yes or no, and rows of letter. You will also need a coin that will be used in place of a planchet. This game is much more accessible to schoolchildren than the Ouija board was accessible to me in school.

Of the three spirits that you can end up getting, there's a good chance that you probably will be lied to. The fox is tricky, the dog is protective, and the raccoon dog is mischevious. 

Taken from a Japanese horror movie; Gozu.

6. Gozu (Cow Head)

A teacher is taking his class of students on a field trip when he decides to start telling scary stories. He decides to tell the scariest story ever told, one that is hard to find in completion. Despite many of the students beginning to beg him to stop reciting the horror story, he continues. It's almost as though he can't stop himself from telling the story.

As the story continues, the students scream and turn pale—panicking.

The bus ends up crashing, although thankfully no one was killed. But the students were traumatized and the teacher was never quite sure what caused him to continue telling the story...

Or even how he knew it in its entirety in the first place. 

5. Hanako-San

Another ghost (a female ghost this time though) is haunting a bathroom. It's a Bloody Mary situation.

Except, you go to the third stall in a bathroom and ask if she is there. Then she says that she's there. It's usually not a good idea to enter, but those that do seem to survive for the most part. They just see a terrifying apparition of a ghostly girl with bobbed hair and wearing a uniform.

There's a variation where a lizard eats someone because it was just mimicking the voice instead of it actually being the Hanako-san spirit.

4. KuneKune

This spirit is one that is vaguely resembling Slender Man, except without a suit. It's a tall, pale, slender humanoid figure. It's hard to talk about its features because it's frequently seen from a great distance.

It's usually seen in rice fields. And it's usually moving almost non-stop, making it look quite eerie.

Those that try to get a closer look at it might lose their minds. Those that manage to get very close—they'll end up dead. You're more likely to end up dying in a horrifying way if you try to touch it.

3. Red Room

This urban legend is especially frightening because every internet-using individual has had to deal with a popup. But this popup is different. Because you can't get rid of it.

This popup will appear, and, as you attempt to exit the program, you'll start to see a bunch of names running across the screen. These are the victims of the Red Room. You might suffer a random attack by an unknown entity (it's assumed that there's some kind of supernatural creature involved). The computer will go black and then the victim will end up committing suicide.

Or you might be ripped open by a demon.

Either way, the room will be red with the person's blood. 

2. Teke Teke

The name Teke Teke comes from the sound the entity makes when its palms are smacking against the ground—because that's the only way that the ghost can move. It's been cut in half by a train, and there are variations behind how and why that happened. Some are just suicides. Some are accidents that involve someone being left to bleed out and die.

It's usually a she, I'll mention.

Despite no longer having legs, Teke Teke is frighteningly fast. There are even rumors that she can out-handrun a car. It's hard to escape her once she has come across you in the darkness of night.

The result of what happens when she catches you shouldn't be that surprising. She cuts you in half, either to make you look like her or to steal your legs. It's kind of up in the air about that. Most people can't answer that. 

1. Kuchisake-Onna

I think that Kuchisake-Onna (or, the slit-mouthed woman) is the most popular urban legend to come out of Japan. The story behind her is that in the 1970s, there were reports of a woman wearing a mask—which isn't unfamiliar in Japan—asking strange questions of children. Then a story began to develop. She was a ghost; she was the wife of a samurai and had cheated on him. In revenge, he cut open a Glasgow smile. She committed suicide not long after that.

The question she'll ask is if you think she's beautiful while wearing the mask. If you say no, she'll just kill you. If you say yes, she'll remove the mask. Then you'll see the horrifying gaping mouth. She'll ask the question again. Saying yes, you'll end up with the same mouth that she has (you can survive this, so, frankly, this is the preferred option). Saying no, you'll just be cut in half.

This is easily the scariest of the urban legends, just because it's hard to get out of her questions. And she's frightening as hell. That's why I picked her face as the primary photo for this article. 

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