Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Japanese urban legends – Part 1 –

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/20 Others , , ,

“Toshi densetsu” : Japanese urban legends (1)

Summer in Japan is ridiculously hot and humid except in some northern areas.
So, people enjoy horror stories especially in summer to feel shivering cold.

There are many old and new ghost / horror stories in Japan, and I feel it would be nice to introduce some.
(It’s already getting cool though.)

This time, I’ll write about supposed-to-be scary Japanese urban legends.
You may find them rather funny though, as many of them are quite nonsense.


Kuchisake-onna (Slit-Mouthed Woman)

A young woman comes to a child who is going home from school.
She has a long, black hair, wears a surgical mask and holds a sickle in her hand.
She asks the child, “Am I beautiful?”

If the child answers “Yes”, she takes the mask off.
Her mouth is ripped from ear to ear.
She asks again, “How about now?”

If the child says “No”, she kills him / her with the sickle.

– Note –
In Japan, wearing a surgical mask is not unusual.
We wear it to prevent catching or spreading a cold / flu, or to avoid pollens / dust which cause allergy.
I myself wear it almost everyday because of allergy and sore throat.

A girl wearing a mask

- A girl wearing a mask -
Photo from Photo AC

This “Kuchisake-onna” story terrified school children, and it caused a sort of panic.
Children hated to be alone outside, and some were too afraid to go out from their home.
I was an elementary school kid back then, and I remember the frightened looks from other children who were in a group when I went home on my own.

The version in my vague memory was:
If you say “Yes (you are beautiful)” to her second question, she swiftly slits your mouth from ear to ear so that you’ll have the same “beautiful” face like her.
If you say “No”, of course you’ll be killed with her sickle.

Other things I think I heard were:

  • She was a victim of a very clumsy cosmetic surgery.
  • She could run very fast (less than 10 seconds for 100 meters – enough to be able to win the olympic easily), so it was impossible to run away from her.
  • If you answer “So-so”, she doesn’t know what to do, and you have time to escape from her.


Jinmen-inu (A dog with a human face)

A man came to see a rubbish bin at the back of a restaurant where he works.
Stray dogs quite often scavenged food from the bin and made a mess, so he sometimes checked it during his work.

One day, he found a dog at the bin and tried to get rid of it as usual.
He was astonished to see a human face with a dog body.
It looked and said to him, “Leave me alone.”


– Note –
“Jinmen-inu” reminds me of a manga, “Berserk”.

I’ve never heard it does any harm to people, but according to several websites, there is one case:
It runs in the highway, and cars, which get past by it, will cause accidents.
Actually, it’s not the dog’s fault.
Drivers just get into a panic and that leads to accidents.

“Jinmen-inu” is not a new story.
There are descriptions, which were written in the Edo era, “Jinmen-inu” was put on show.

Similar one to “Jinmen-inu”, there is a famous monster called “Kudan”.
It’s a cow with a human face.
Born from a cow, and after foretelling the (usually bad) future like disasters and diseases, soon it will die.
There are some mangas, novels and games that “Kudan” appears, a Nintendo game “Youkai Watch 2″ for example.

This “Kudan” is also mentioned in the Edo era like “Jinmen-inu”.



A woman was hit by a train, and was cut from the waist in Muroran, Hokkaido.
It was winter, so the cold air caused blood vessels to narrow and it prevented from bleeding.
She couldn’t die immediately and had been suffering with tremendous pain for a few minutes.

A woman will appear to people who heard this story within three days.
The woman doesn’t have a lower part of the body, and move around with her elbows (or hands) at high speed.

– Note –
I assume this one is rather new.
At least I’ve never heard of the story when I was a child.

“Teke-teke” is onomatopoeia.
The sound of her “elbow (or hand)”-steps.

I heard even in Muroran in winter, this narrowed blood vessels thing cannot be happened because the lowest temperature is around -4 Celsius (about 25 Fahrenheit).


- Hakuchou Oohashi (Great swan bridge) in Muroran -
Photo from Flickr (by Christophe Richard)


***The next one is a sort of joke legend.***

A foreign tourist in a sushi-bar

1. A foreign tourist visited a sushi bar in Japan.

Hi, I'm Guy Jean! I'm in a Sushi-bar in Japan now.


Umm... Good! Excellent!! Brilliant!!!


Oh, I’m stuffed! I’m gonna ask "How much?" in Japanese...   "Ikura?"


Yes, "Ikura"!




Well... My pronunciation was bad, perhaps.  I should've asked in English...


"How much?"


Yes, "Hamachi"!




– Note –
You can eat sushi with chopsticks or a bare hand.
Either will do.

“Ikura” is a salmon caviar in Japanese.
Also, it means “how much?” depending on the situation.
If you want to avoid this kind of confusion at a sushi-bar, you’d better say “Oikura (desuka)?” for “how much?”

“Hamachi” is a yellowtail.

Illustrations of hamachi and ikura sushi are from free illustrations for members of Photo AC.



Related posts:
#Urban legends(2) (3)

The following two tabs change content below.


A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

Number List 4

Basic Japanese : Large numbers in Japanese – Thousand and over

Large numbers in Japanese : Thousand to quadrillion From thousand to quadrillion, the common units you hear in everyday life in Japan including in the news. As I wrote in the previous post, for digits over ten, “4” is always read as “yon” and “9” as “kyuu”. “7” is generally “nana”. For bigger numbers than […]

Read Article

Aiueo 3

Basic Japanese : Old Japanese Alphabets

Old Japanese Alphabets or Historical Japanese Alphabets The two red characters in “gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta” are out of use now. Both characters had their own sounds consisting of a consonant and a vowel, but each of them changed into the same sound as a vowel which has a similar sound. Although they couldn’t be distinguished […]

Read Article

Number List 5

Basic Japanese : Trivia about numbers in Japanese

The final post about numbers in Japanese. Number over quadrillion Numbers over “chou” (trillion to quadrillion) are quite rarely used. You may hear the following unit “kei” sometimes, but numbers over the unit “kei” won’t be seen in usual life. I’ve never seen it myself even in the news and I actually can’t name units […]

Read Article

Michizane with his poem

Go west : Dazaifu and Sugawara no Michizane

Sugawara no Michizane is the person who is worshipped as god of study at the shrine, “Dazaifu Tenman-guu”. “Sugawara” is the family name and “Michizane” is the first name. He is also well-known as one of the Big Three Onryou (vengeful spirit) in Japan, along with Taira no Masakado and Emperor Sutoku. Life of Sugawara […]

Read Article

Itadaki masu image

Basic Japanese : “Itadaki masu” – Phrase before meal

When I watch foreign TV dramas, I sometimes see Christian people praying before meal. It seems that the prayer is to appreciate God who have given them food. In Japan, maybe Christians do the same, but I guess most of people say certain phrases before and after dinner instead of a prayer. If you love […]

Read Article


Basic Japanese : Japanese business titles

The last post of “Japanese honorific titles” series. For people who are in a (supposed-to-be) honorary post, their business titles are generally used. There are too many to pick up everything, so I just write about some of the most common ones. Each of them can be used after the person’s name. In “Dalziel and […]

Read Article

Go-chisou sama!

Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal

Go-chisou sama (deshita) This phrase is said after meal. It expresses appreciation to people who prepared or cooked the meal. “Chisou” literally means “running around”. The Kanji character for “chi” means “run fast” or “travel fast on horseback / by car”. The “sou” character means “run”. People used to run around (or ride around on […]

Read Article

Aiueo 1

Basic Japanese : Japanese Alphabetical orders – “Gojyuu-on” and “Iroha-uta”

General Info : Japanese Alphabetical orders There are two patterns of Japanese Alphabetical orders. One starts with “A”, “I”, “U”. This is now used at school to learn Japanese Alphabets, Hiragana and Katakana. Known as “Gojyuu-on” (lit. “fifty sounds”). The other starts with “I”, “Ro”, “Ha”. Probably this was more commonly used before. Known as […]

Read Article

"I" attack

Basic Japanese : How to say “I” in Japanese – Part 1 –

In Japanese, there are many ways to call yourself. Here, I’m trying to explain the differences of each word, but please note they are my own personal impressions and other Japanese may not feel the same way. The word “I” in Japanese Although we have many words for “I”, it is frequently omitted. If you […]

Read Article

daiso japan

Go Shopping at a 100 Yen Shop

I’m sure many of those who have been to Japan would agree that one of the places that got them spend money are 100 yen shops. These are shops that sell items that mostly cost 100 yen exclusive of tax. The items range from food to housewares to accessories, or in other words, there’s a […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+