Summer is really hot in Japan. Come cool down, human being used come tell really scary stories. For this reason be cautious walking alone in the wee hrs of the night; Japan is complete of ghosts, ghouls and also other characters lurking in shadowy corners. 

Yurei (ghosts of the deceased) and yokai (mythical spirits) have been part of Japanese folklore because that centuries—even far earlier as the 8th century in the Kojiki (古事記, “Records of old Matters”), i m sorry is the earliest document of Japanese mythology, chronicling the creation of Japan. Today, they show up in anime, manga, videogames and movies.

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Here are seven of our favourite Japanese ghosts and also ghouls come send shivers down your spine this summer season.

7. Yuki-onna


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Yuki-onna by Sawaki-Suushi.
Ever watched a beautiful woman with snow-white skin and long black hair wandering v the frigid winter? it may have been a yuki-onna (snow woman). Once she walks follow me a snow-covered terrain, you won’t find any footprints behind her.

The bulk of yuki-onna stories originate indigenous Japan’s snowy, northern prefectures favor Aomori and also Akita in the Tohoku region. In part versions, she is a snow vampire who sucks the souls out of she victims. In other versions, she uses her mythological beauty to entice weak-willed men into the cold, then leaves them to frozen to death. Savage.

Some to speak the yuki-onna to be a beautiful woman that was murdered in the snow and now does the very same to others together an action of revenge.

6. Chochin Obake


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Chochin Obake through Hokusai.
This lantern ghost no malicious like other yokai—he’s simply a naughty small trickster that enjoys giving humans a scare. The chochin-obake (paper lantern ghost) will flick its large tongue out, roll its eyes and laugh loudly to frighten passers-by. It’s actually kind of cute.

The chochin-obake does not show up in any type of of Japan’s mythical stories or legends, and only appears in ukiyo-e and also kabuki plays. So over there is no beginning for this particular yokai. One concept is the he was developed simply to fear children. However, tsukumogami (tool spirit), do appear in Japanese mythology. Tsukumogami room tools or objects which become yokai ~ 100 years.

Thus, a consistent lantern may turn right into chochin-obake after ~ 100 years of use. This comes from the old Shinto spiritual belief the all objects—even inanimate ones—have a soul. Perhaps don’t visit any kind of temples, izakaya or other places most likely to have lanterns if friend don’t want to run into one. Climate again, they could make for a great drinking buddy.

5. Jorogumo


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Photo: A monstrous spider by Kuniyoshi.Kuniyoshi’s publish of a monstrous spider.
Translated come English, jorogumo (絡新婦) way “woman-spider.” However, the kanji can additionally mean “entangling bride” or “whore spider.” They room cunning and also appear together seductive young women. They feeding on young men who loss for their tricks—trapping castle in your webs and devouring them slowly.

The jorogumo legend is based on the genuine golden-orb weaver spider, which is found all roughly Japan. When the spider will 400 year old, she will transform into a jorogumo and also start preying on humans.

There are number of stories based upon the jorogumo. In Tonoigusa (Night Watchman’s Storybook), a young warrior meet a beautiful woman. Establish she is a yokai, the strikes her v his sword, and also she flees come the attic. There, they find a dead spider around 30cm long and surrounded by decaying bodies.

Most versions end with the entangled in spider web and also wishing he had actually kept his mouth shut

In Izu, Joren falls is home to a jorogumo. The legend claims a woodcutter encountered the spider when she do the efforts to drag him behind the waterfall. He escaped, warning the village to remain away, yet an outsider met the jorogumo. Surprisingly, she let him live as long as he never ever spoke of it. Unfortunately, the male was the opposite of coy. The story quarter from there, however most versions finish with the entangled in spider web and wishing he had kept his mouth shut.

Worse, jorogumo isn’t the just killer spider in Japan. Tsuchigumo (土蜘蛛, “dirt/earth spider”), are large wandering spiders v human-like faces that hide in corners and also dark spaces. They were likely influenced by the real-life Chinese bird spider and bandits and soldiers that hid in the shadows and preferred to ambush people.

4. Gashadokuro


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The titan gashadokuro by Kuniyoshi.
The poor, unfortunate bones of those who’ve died on the battlefield rotate into gashadokuro (starving skeleton). These yokai kind in places where masses of normal skeletons lie, such as in villages after starvation or condition has wiped the end the population. 

Because they passed away without a proper burial or funeral rites, the souls and bones come together and also create one giant skeleton, 15 times the dimension of an average person. The skeleton specters feed on lone travelers, biting their heads off, feasting on your bones and also drinking their blood, Dracula-style. That is like some kind of boss from Castlevania.

You may have actually seen this yokai in the famous ukiyo-e “Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre” by the famed Kuniyoshi.

3. Yamauba


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The yamauba by Sawaki Suushi.
Are girlfriend planning on hiking in the hills this fall? You might want to rethink that, together that’s where you’ll discover the yamauba (mountain witch). These decrepit hags, depicted as old women v messy hair and filthy kimonos, are well-known to market shelter come weary travelers only to kill them once they fall asleep. 

The yamauba were once continual women however fled come the woodland after gift accused of crimes. An additional theory is they were victims of ubasute (姥捨て), precise “abandoning an old woman.” throughout hard times such together famine, a family would lead your elderly into the woodland to die. Here, castle would flourish angry and also resentful, ending up being cannibalistic and practicing black magic.

However, in some stories, they space benevolent. Because that example, a yamauba can give a sort stranger treasure or great fortune. In Aichi, yamauba are seen as protective gods.

2. Kappa


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Sawaki Suushi’s print of a kappa.
This little human-like creature has a shell choose a turtle, green scaly skin, and also a bowl on that head that should be filled with water at all times to continue to be alive. Lock live in Japan’s rivers, lakes and also other waterways.

In Shintoism, kappa (river-child) space respected as gods the water and statues the them have the right to sometimes be watched at shrines about Japan. Kappa quirks include having one affinity for cucumbers (hence the kappa-maki) and never break a promise.

In the metropolitan legend version, a more menacing kappa loves to pull shed children and also animals into the water come drown and eat. Castle still prefer to eat cucumbers but likewise raw human being intestines.

1. Kuchisake-onna


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Photo: iStockThink twice about answering she question. Or simply run.
Kuchisake-onna is a malicious, contemporary yurei, whose surname literally translates to “slit-mouthed woman.” Legend says as soon as she was alive, she husband punished her for she acts that adultery by slicing her mouth open from ear to ear.

Thanks to that dick, this ghost shows up as a beautiful young woman wearing a surgical mask, holding a sharp weapon favor a pair of scissors. She approaches people at night and also asks them a concern with sinister intentions.

An encounter v a kuchisake onna is a lose-lose situation, constantly resulting in death.

“Watashi, kirei?” or “Am ns beautiful?” she coos. If friend answer no, she will certainly kill girlfriend instantly. If you speak yes, she clears the surgical mask revealing her gruesome mouth. With a large smile, exposing spicy teeth, she’ll ask, “how around now?” solution of “no” will result in you gift dismembered by the ghost. Say yes, and also she will make you as “beautiful” as she is through slicing your own mouth native ear come ear. One encounter through a Kuchisake-onna is a lose-lose situation, constantly resulting in death.

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The murderous mrs briefly showed up in the 1984 Studio Ghibli movie Pom Poko and several Japanese fear movies have actually been made v her story as the premise, consisting of the 2007 low-budget fear flick Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman.