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Japanese urban legends – Part 3 –

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

“Toshi densetsu” : Japanese urban legends (3)

Mary-san (Ms. Mary)


Photo from Ashinari

A girl had an old Western doll and called it “Mary”.
When her family moved to another place, she disposed it because it was old.

One night, a telephone rang at her new home.
The girl got it, then heard the voice saying, “Hello, I’m Mary. I’m at a dump now”.
She hang up the phone immediately, but phone calls comes one after another.
“Mary” seemed to move towards her present house from her previous place.

Again, the phone rang.
“Hello, I’m Mary. I’m in front of your house now.”
The girl dared to open the front door, but nobody was there.
Prank calls after all?
Just when she wondered, there was a phone call.

“Hello, I’m Mary. I’m behind you now.”

There are many variants of this like other urban legends.

  • The doll is not “Mary” but “Licca-chan”.
    (“Licca-chan” is a dress-up doll like “Barbie” produced by a Japanese company, “Takara”)
  • You’ll be killed if you look back after the last phone call.
  • “Mary” is lost and can’t reach the girl’s home. “Mary” phones her in tears to ask where it is now.
  • “Mary” passes by the girl’s home, and a few years later a phone call comes from Russia.


Legendary spots you can visit

Inogashira park

Inogashira park

Photo from Ashinari

If a couple rides on a boat in Inogashira park in Tokyo, they will end up splitting up.

It is said it’s because of “Benzaiten”, the Goddess who is worshipped in the shrine in Inogashira park.(Official website)
Benzaiten, a.k.a. “Benten”, is believed to be very jealous and she can’t stand a happy couple.
The origin of Benzaiten is an Indian Hinduism goddess “Sarasvati”, meaning “Holy River” but I assume this jealous thing is only in Japan.

This kind of legend (a cursed spot for couples) is not only in Inogashira.
Enoshima in Kanagawa has the same legend and there is also a shrine for Benzaiten.




This is rather a joke legend.
A huge fake “kani” (crab) on the front of each “Kani-douraku”, a “kani” restaurant in Osaka, is running on power generated by part-timers who pedal a bicycle-like machine.
Hourly wage is from 750 to 1200 yen depending on his / her performance.


Joke legend


1. A senior staff was showing a new employee how to do a job in a convenience store.
Senpai (senior staff): “This is a barcode reader. We use this to scan a barcode on a product.”
Shinjin (new staff): “I see.”



Senpai: “This is a barcode.”



Senpai: “You just have to hold the reader over the barcode…”



Senpai: “After the scan, the price is shown on the small screen. OK?”
Shinjin : “Yes.”



5. A customer came to the cashier.
Shinjin : “(Oh, here’s my first customer) Irasshaimase!”*


*Note: “Irasshaimase” (some might say “IrasshaimaSHI”) is a greeting to welcome (usually) customers.
It is a combination of “Irassharu” (respectful form of saying “come”, “go” and “there is”) and “mase (or mashi)” (imperative form of “masu”, a formal auxiliary verb).
I guess many Japanese feel “Irasshaimase” is politer than “Irasshai”, so “mase / mashi” is considered as courteous rather than imperative.


6. The customer dropped a coin when he was pulling money out of his pocket.



7. He bent down to pick up the coin…


…The reader scanned his “barcode” head.




His price – 10 yen – was shown on the screen.


A person with a hairdo like the man in this legend is often called as “Barcode hage” or “Sudare hage”.
“Hage” means “bald head” and / or “bald-headed person”.
“Sudare” is a blind which is made of bamboo or other natural material.
Of course “hage” is not a nice word to say to the “hage” person.


- "Sudare" -
Photo from Ashinari


- Closer look of "sudare" -
Photo from Ashinari



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#Urban legends(1) (2)

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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).

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