“The Ring”, “The Grudge”, “Dark Water”… Japan in recent times is known for some of the scariest movies. Fans of giving themselves goosebumps will be pleased to discover that there are many real-life creepy experiences to be had in places that would make good settings for horror films (in fact, some have). Kansai has its fair share, from eerie-looking buildings to places associated with spooky folklore. Here is a pick of the best if you’re looking for a fright…
Kyoto has many eerie spots to visit, and the most famous is probably this ancient shrine located just off of the Kyoto-Jukan Expressway. Originating way back in the Heian period, the legend has it that this tiny shrine was built on top of a demon called Shuten Doji, whose severed head was buried in the ground beneath. Kubitsuka, literally meaning “tomb of the head”, is seen as one of the most haunted spots in Kyoto and is popular for ghost sightings, although many visit due to the site’s professed healing properties. The Oi No Saka crossroads close to where the shrine is located are viewed as a barrier protecting against evil spirits.
Address: Kyoto-Jukan Expressway, Oe Kutsukake Cho, Kyoto – Google map link here.
This narrow, scary-looking tunnel in the Kokorome Toge mountain pass in Kyoto is considered to be one of the eeriest places in Japan. Something you can tell just by looking at it. All sorts of stories circulate about spirits dwelling in the tunnel – due to the site being an execution ground back in the 14th century, the deaths of many construction workers when the tunnel was built in the 1920s, and a few suicides in or around it. Ghost sightings and human wailing noises have been reported many times. Locals also warn against entering the tunnel if the light shows green when you arrive – this is evil spirits beckoning you in. You should wait for the light to turn red and then green again before entering. Oh, and don’t look into the down-facing mirror inside the tunnel…
Address: Route 137, Fukayamachi, Sagatoriimoto, Kyoto – Google map link here.
The Hanging Ruins is actually the burned-out remains of a four-story building in Osaka’s Shinsekai downtown district. A number of rumored sightings are associated with this building, all of them involving bodies hanging from the rooftop amid the ruins. Over time, people began hanging shoes on the building to commemorate the stories and the area has attracted attention as one of the most haunted spots in the city.
Google map link here.
Located within Himeji Castle, this ancient well is purported to be the dwelling place of the spirit of a young girl who was murdered by a Samurai centuries ago. The girl, Okiku, rejected the advances of the Samurai Aoyama Tessan. In a fit of rage, he threw her down the well. According to popular folk legend, Okiku became a vengeful spirit, tormenting her murderer. Her ghost is said to appear at the well at night and her screams can be heard in the castle grounds.
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture 670-0012
by ja:User:Reggaeman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons