Terrifying And Disturbing Legends And Folklore From Japan

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
March 7, 2021
Last Updated
October 3, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
24 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Folklore

We have examined the connections of legends and folklore and the partial truths in some of the mysteries of antiquity and how they might relate to the enigmas of our contemporary era on several occasions. We have examined some of the folklore of particular places more in-depth, such wonderous locations as Hawaii, for example, which has a particularly large abundance of folklore tales.

Japan, however, has a long and proud history, and one that is rich in folklore, myths, and legends, some of which are perhaps some of the most disturbing and terrifying to be found anywhere on Earth. And if you like such morose and macabre accounts, then a great many of the legends of Japan will be of morbid interest to you.

A picture of two typical Japanese cities superimposed over each other

Japan is home to some of the most intriguing legends and folklore tales

Whether it is of strange spirits looking to take revenge for their violent deaths on their unfortunate victims, tales of ghostly apparitions, the gods of ancient times and what writings of them might mean from a modern perspective to bizarre internet rituals that have surfaced in our contemporary era, all of the legends and folklore of Japan is intriguing and thought-provoking in the extreme. And when we examine how the UFO and alien question might intertwine with such legends another layer of mystery and intrigue is added.

What’s more, in and among all of these is one of the strangest and morbidly fascinating locations on the planet, known as the Suicide Forest, whose legends, unfortunately, tragically translate into hundreds of people taking their own lives in this seemingly unforgiving location.

While we certainly don’t have space nor the time to examine anywhere near all of the legends and folklore tales that hail from Japan here, we will examine some of the most intriguing, chilling, and at times, those that are all too real. We will start, though, with tales that have a distinct paranormal feel to them.

Paranormal Legends And Urban Myths Of Japan

While we will examine some of the ancient myths, legends, and folklore of Japan shortly, there are many modern legends and urban myths that we can delve into. Without a doubt, one of the most interesting is one that we have examined in-depth previously – the bizarre case of the Man from Taured, a country that this strange gentleman claimed had a history of 1000 years but to anyone else simply didn’t exist. He even produced paperwork that appeared to back up his assertions.

As we might imagine, perplexed and unsure what to do the Japanese authorities took the man into custody so they could investigate. Making an already bizarre case even stranger was the fact that when authorities returned to the guarded hotel room where the mystery person was staying the following day, he had vanished into thin air.

Was this a case of an interdimensional traveler? Or might there be no more to the tale than pure urban myth? It is, however, only one of the mysterious legends to come out of Japan.

In the mini-book Japanese Yokai, Urban Legends, and More, Vince Bios compiles several of the more intriguing ones. [1] And while we will not examine all of those here, it is perhaps worth examining some of them. It goes without saying that we recommend you digest Bios’ work in full.

Deadly Vengeful Spirits

There are several legends and differing tales of vengeful spirits (sometimes known as an Onryo) – the result of someone who has suffered a sudden or violent death – who reside in our realm looking to influence and even cause harm to people.

Perhaps one of the most unnerving of these tales is known as Teke-Teke, the spirit of a young girl who was set upon and assaulted by a gang before being left to die. However, before she did, she managed to drag herself across the ground in an attempt to seek help. By the time she had dragged herself to a nearby railway line, all strength had left her body. She was, according to the legend, ultimately killed by a train that sliced her in half.

Those who are unlucky enough to encounter Teke-Teke are said to witness the upper half of the torso only as it drags itself across the ground, making a “teke-teke-teke” sound as she does so (hence the name). Some accounts even speak of the spirit walking on her hands.

There are variations as to what might happen next. Some believe the spirit is searching for her lower body. However, given that she is also said to be carrying a scythe, others believe the encounters are much more deadly with those who approach her being sliced in two. Some versions of this legend – perhaps in a similar fashion to the vampire tales of the western world – claim that should you be killed by Teke-Teke, you will turn into a vengeful spirit also.

Interestingly or not, when we turn our attention to Japan’s infamous Suicide Forest shortly, some claim that such vengeful spirits indeed reside in the woodlands, possibly encouraging those who have entered the forest to take their own life.

The short video below examines this legend a little further.

The Unnerving Legends Of The Slit-Mouthed Woman

There are other similar tales of vengeful spirits roaming the streets of Japan. Perhaps one of the most disturbing is that of the Kuckisake-Onna, or the Slit-Mouthed Woman. And like the legends of Teke-Teke, the Kuckisake-Onna is very capable of causing harm, even death to those who encounter her. And even more chilling, is the apparent backstory of the tale.

According to the legends, a particularly beautiful, although vain woman would constantly torment her husband that her beauty was such that she could win the favor of any man she chose. Her husband eventually snapped (some accounts claim he had discovered his wife had had such an affair) and attacked her slicing “her mouth open from ear to ear”. What’s more, while he did this, he taunted his wife back saying, “who will think you’re beautiful now?” He then leaves the woman for dead, and she eventually dies from her injuries.

The woman’s spirit has since said to have roamed the streets of Japan, appearing on foggy days or during the evening hours. She is said to appear wearing a long overcoat and facemask covering her wounded lower face.

Even more unnerving for those who might encounter her is that she most often appears out of nowhere, asking people “Am I pretty?” Most people would answer yes to this question, either out of politeness or through genuine perspective, at which point she is said to remove the mask and asking, “How about now?”

Regardless of how a person might answer this second question, their fate is equally unkind. Should a person answer no, they are stabbed and killed by the vengeful spirit? If they answer yes, however, rather than being left alone, they will have their mouths slit in the same manner as the woman herself had.

Whether there is any truth to the legend remains open to debate. Although similar legends have existed for at least 1000 years, it is thought that this modern version surfaced and began circling at some point in the 1970s. In fact, according to accounts during this time, due to the belief that this vengeful woman was seeking out children as her victims, some teachers would even take it upon themselves to walk their pupils home from school in order to keep them safe.

Even more bizarre, one report from the same period tells of a child who was being chased by a woman. The woman was eventually knocked down by a car and killed. According to the legend, she was found to have had her mouth slit. Make of that what you will.

The short video below examines this particular legend a little further.

The Ghost Haunting Japan’s Public Toilets

There are perhaps multiple reasons to avoid public toilets if we can help it, especially at night. However, running into a vengeful ghost is perhaps not one that would come to mind. The public toilets of Japan, though, are another matter.

According to the legends [2] of the Aka Manto, arguably the most morbidly intriguing of such legends, the spirit of a young man who was murdered in a public toilet stall now haunts and roams around such public bathrooms around the country.

The main details of the legend state that should you be in a public bathroom stall and hear someone walking outside before being asked if you would like red or blue toilet paper, you are about to encounter the Aka Manto.

Depending on what you answer, depends on what fate awaits you. Should you answer red, the Aka Manto – dressed in a red cape and wearing a gold mask – will appear instantly in the stall with you before decapitating or slicing you in half. Answering blue will cause the vengeful spirit to appear and choke you to death – essentially until you have turned blue due to a lack of oxygen.

Perhaps even worse, should you decide to not answer or give any other answer other than red or blue, the Aka Manto will drag you straight to Hell where you will reside for eternity.

Like other legends from Japan, and indeed around the world, there are various different versions of the Aka Manto. Essentially, though, they all end the same way – with the death of those who encounter this vengeful spirit.

You can see more on the short video below.

Truly Disturbing Folklore Legends

As well as the legends from the modern era of Japan, there is, quite literally, a plethora of such legends to examine. Many of which are dark and disturbing in nature.

Whether the following legends have partial truths to them or whether they are essentially morality tales is perhaps open to debate, and certainly down to perspective and personal perception.

Datsue-ba – Guarding The Pathways Of The Dead

Even the name Datsue-ba is a little disturbing – when translated said to mean “old woman who strips clothes”. According to the legends of this otherworldly entity, whose origins can be found in Buddhist folklore of the region, she is seemingly similar to the “trickster” gods of other ancient legends.

Legends of area state that the spirits of the dead have to cross the Sanzu River in order to reach the realm of the dead, referred to as paradise. Again, we can draw similarities with the Greek legends of the need to cross the River Styx. More specifically, there are said to be three entry points available to these spirits. However, whether a spirit can gain access to these paths depends very much on the type of life they have lived.

A depiction of a Datsue-ba

A depiction of a Datsue-ba

When it is a child’s spirit, however, through a lack of life-experience, they have no paths available to them. Thus, when they attempt to cross the water, Datsue-ba will eventually block their way. Upon doing so she will then strip the child of their clothes. These children can only hope that a sympathetic deity will come to assist them in crossing the water, and in overcoming the torment of Datsue-ba.

Not that adults who have led a bad life have it any easier. Datsue-ba would again strip the adults of their clothes. Some legends even state that the ghoulish spirit will strip the skin from these unfortunate souls if they are not wearing clothing. The torment she then dishes out depends on the gravity of their sins.

Betobeto-san – Footsteps Of An Invisible Entity On A Lonely Road

Although there are no records in mythology of Betobeto-san causing physical harm encounters with this mysterious entity certainly leave people unnerved. It is said that you will likely encounter Betobeto-san while walking along a dark or lonely road. Or more likely if you happen to be walking along one of the many mountain roads in the country.

According to legend, you will hear footsteps behind you. And what’s more, these strange, unnerving footsteps will continue to follow you until you stop, step to one side, and state “you first” or “please go ahead”. With that, the footsteps will pass by and fade into the night.

One legend tells of a man who did exactly this only for a voice to reply that they couldn’t pass by as it was “too dark”. The man offered the strange entity his lantern. To his amazement, invisible hands took the lantern from him and he watched as it continued on the road, the footsteps fading away as it did so.

Takaonna – Vengeful Woman Wreaking Havoc In Red Light Districts

What is perhaps interesting about the legends of the Takaonna is that they are said to haunt the red-light districts of Japan. And while there are few stories of them causing physical harm they are said to harass and frighten the men and women who frequent the district. In fact, some tales tell of these women, who for the most part appear as a perfectly normal woman, elongating their bodies in order to peer into the windows of brothels spying on the working women and their clients.

A depiction of a Takaonna

A depiction of a Takaonna

Legend states that these Takaonna were once ordinary women who were considered “too unattractive to marry” or to find work as a prostitute. Because of this social dismissal, their souls turned to vengeance. Their twisted, bitter outlook caused them to become “malicious monsters” who “prey on others’ sexual energy”. Perhaps like most legends, there appears to be a morality tale hidden beneath.

Hibagon – The “Japanese Bigfoot”

Perhaps one of the most recent legends of strange beast-like creatures lurking in the woods and wilderness of Japan are those of the Hibagon. This strange gorilla-like creature is regarded by many researchers as the “Japanese Bigfoot”. What’s more, there have been several sightings of this strange creature since the early 1970s.

As well as sightings of this alleged wild man, there have been several molds taken of its footprints. Perhaps most famous of these were taken by a bunch of Boy Scouts, with the molds said to be over 25 cm long and 15 cm wide,

Descriptions of the Hibagon claim it is covered with black bristly fur, with white hands and feet, and “glaring eyes”. One couple who claim to have come face to face with the strange creature, Mr. Sazawa and Mrs. Harada, said it did not at all seem hostile. Furthermore, even when several other witnesses moved toward the creature with guns, it turned and fled.

The short video below looks at this strange creature a little further.

Amanojaku – Tempting Humans To Act On Their Darkest Desires

By comparison to some of the other entries on our list, rather than being merely scary, the Amanojaku is said to be outright demonic. Legends state that this entity can appear to a person and not only realize their darkest desires but can prompt them to act on them. Essentially, they are, once more, similar to the trickster gods and entities found in many other parts of the ancient world.

Model of an Amanojaku

Model of an Amanojaku

This demonic being surfaces in many different legends, always in the same tempting role. One particularly gruesome tale tells of a young girl, cared for by an elderly couple, who is tricked into allowing an Amanajaku into their home. Once inside, it would eat her but would keep the skin. With this, the demon would pretend to be the girl by wearing it, in order to trick others.

Once more, it is perhaps easy to see the hidden messages and morality tales in such legends. That doesn’t, however, make them any less morose.

Bakeneko – A Cat That Can Take Human Form

Not only is the Bakeneko said to be a large cat with supernatural powers it also has the ability to shapeshift into human form. What’s more, it sometimes kills and steals the identity of the person it has shapeshifted into. Some legends even state that the Bakeneko can possess people, and even take control of those who have long since been dead.

Perhaps even more frightening, if we accept the legends as truth for a moment, it is possible to run into this strange supernatural feline anywhere in Japan. Perhaps one reason for relief is that it is often only those who have led cruel lives that are likely to come across this potentially deadly entity. Some legends even attribute the origins of the Bakeneko to cats that were mistreated or killed by their owners, only to come back in this supernatural form looking for revenge on humans who conduct their lives in a similar way.

Satori – Mind-Reading Supernatural Beasts

Perhaps similar to the legends of the Hibagon, at least in some of the descriptions the Satori are said to be monstrous creatures, often with a gorilla or Bigfoot-like features, that lurk in the mountain regions of the country. Even more startling, they are said to possess supernatural powers. These include the ability to read a person’s mind. In fact, some legends even state that they are so skilled at this that they can tell a person what they are thinking before they have even processed the thought themselves.

A depiction of a Satori

A depiction of a Satori

What is perhaps interesting here is that, like the Hibagon, if confronted, the Satori will run away and hide. However, that is not to say they are harmless. Far from it. Legends also state that should you encounter one alone, they will kill and devour you as soon as the opportunity arises. Furthermore, other legends go as far as to state these entities can imitate individual voices, possibly in an attempt to lure their victims toward it.

Jikininki – Sinful Spirits Looking To Devour Human Corpses

The legends of the Jikininki are perhaps some of the most disturbing. Said to be the spirits of individuals who have led sinful or greedy lives, they spend eternity looking for human corpses, upon which they then feed. The name Jikininki is said to mean “human-eating ghosts” when translated.

Although there are several accounts and legends, the most well-known is that of a priest named Muso who was traveling through Japan. As night was falling, he came upon a house in which lived another priest. However, when he asked if he might stay the night and whether he might have some food, he was turned away. The priest did, though, direct him to a small village nearby. When he arrived, he was indeed given a place to sleep, as well as something to eat.

However, he was awakened later in the evening by a young man. He told him that his father had died earlier in the day. Furthermore, tradition stated that the village would leave the corpse alone during the night and spend the evening in a nearby settlement. If they did not, they would be subject to torment by evil. The young man asked if the priest might spend the night with the corpse and perform a ceremony to keep it safe. He agreed and the young man joined the rest of his village.

However, during the evening, with Muso powerless to stop it, a strange dark figure entered the room and began to eat the flesh of the dead body. Upon arriving back the next day, the young man claimed, as he had feared, that a Jikininki had fed upon the body. Even stranger, when the priest asked why the priest who lived nearby had not remained with the corpse, he was informed that priest had died long ago.

In an even further twist, the traveling priest returned to the house and did indeed find the priest there. It was then that the priest revealed that he was a Jikininki and had been cursed to live as one due to his selfish actions while alive.

The short video below examines these legends further.

Jubokko – Trees That Desire Human Blood

Without a doubt, one of the most bizarre legends to come out of Japan are those of the Jubokko. These are trees that appear, for the most part, exactly the same as normal trees, only they desire human blood.

According to legend, these bloodthirsty trees usually grow on battlefields. Due to the spilling of blood at such locations, the trees absorb it, as well as the pain and suffering of the battlefield, and consequently take on a supernatural existence. What’s more, they now need this in order to grow. Should a person come too close to one of these terrifying trees, the branches will quickly wrap around the person and trap them. Even more chilling, these branches will morph into tube-like twigs which pierce the skin of its victim and suck out the blood. The tree does not release the body once it is drained, though. It remains wrapped in the twisted branches for birds and insects to feast on the rotting flesh.

The short video below examines these legends a little further.

Shichinin Misaki – Seven Ghosts Looking To Infect The Living

According to the legends of the Shichinin Misaki, they are a group of spirits of people (usually seven in total) who have met their end before their time and in the most tragic of circumstances. Quite often these spirits are associated with those who have lost their lives at sea or drowned in the water networks of the country. Perhaps that is why they are often witnessed near water.

This deadly group travel and lurk among the living, looking to spread illness and disease. Should a person encounter one of this mystery group, it is said they will become ill, usually with a high fever, before passing away. In a twist, the entity that infected the person and so caused their death is freed from the ghostly group and proceeds to the afterlife. The person who was infected, however, now becomes one of the Shichinin Misaki. This allows the group to constantly maintain its number at seven.

There are several different legends as to the origins of the original seven spirits, one of the most well-known states they were once a group of seven priests who were killed by the people of their village. This caused their spirits to roam the land seeking vengeance.

Check out the short video below.

Modern Internet Rituals And “Dares”

In more recent times in the age of the Internet, many strange “Internet rituals” have emerged out of Japan, several of which are perhaps worthy of our time here. The origins of such rituals are obscure and uncertain. And each country appears to have its own unique ones. The following two, however, are almost certain to have emerged from Japan at some point during the last few decades and have certainly become more widely known thanks to the reach of the Internet.

We should stress, though, whether these rituals work or not is unknown (and they should indeed be taken with a pinch of salt), but we do not recommend that you try them.

The Unnerving Red Man Ritual

Without a doubt one of the most unnerving – if we assume there is any truth to the ritual – is that known as the Red Man Ritual. In fact, it is perhaps unnerving that with this particular ritual there is little information on exactly what happens after performing it.

This perhaps tells us one of two things. Either the ritual is nonsense and simply doesn’t work. Or that it is very genuine and those who have encountered the Red Man have not survived the event. It is also not clear why a person would want to summon him, or who exactly the Red Man is.

According to the instructions the ritual must be performed in a room that is in complete darkness and perhaps more importantly, once it is begun there is no way to abandon it. It involved the participant cutting out the shape of a man from paper and then drawing a line on the back using red lipstick. On the front, the person then writes their name, and the word Rubens.

A typical Red Man Ritual

A typical Red Man Ritual

Then, using two facing mirrors, place the paper man in between them, drawing a pair of eyes on the mirror to the left. The participant should then place five candles around the mirrors, ensuring that the man’s head points to 12 o’clock and the feet point to 6 o’clock. Once the room is in complete darkness the participant must light the candles in a strict order – beginning with the one at 7 o’clock, followed by 12, 5, 10, and then 2 o’clock – before cutting the paper man in half down the middle, putting the left half near the left mirror and the right half near the right one.

After then summoning the man to appear, the participant must blow out the candles, again in the strict order of the one at 12 o’clock first, followed by 7, 10, 2, and finally 5 o’clock. Of course, whether the Red Man appears at this point or not, is not known.

The Potentially Deadly Bath Game

Another particularly disturbing Internet ritual is known as the Bath Game, otherwise known as Daruma San, is also one that could potentially prove fatal to those that participate in them.

The ritual takes place over a 24-hour period, beginning during the evening before you go to sleep. Before getting into bed, the participant should run themselves a bath. Once in the water, keeping their eyes closed, the participant should wash their hair while repeating the phrase “Daruma San Fell Down”.

It is claimed that while you do this, you will begin to see a strange woman with long, dark, tangled hair in your mind. She is stood in a bathtub before she falls, severely damaging her eye on a rusty tap. At this point, the participant should ask why the woman fell in the bathtub. You might, at this point, sense that someone is in the room with you. However, you mustn’t open your eyes, no matter how strong the urge might be to do so.

Still keeping your eyes closed, the participant should get out of the bath and go straight to bed and to sleep. The following day, the ritual (or game) will begin immediately upon the person waking.

It is said that the participant will feel a strange presence with them throughout the day as if someone is near to them but out of their sight. However, unnerving as it might be, the participant will catch fleeting glances of the woman they saw in their mind the previous evening. However, whenever the participant turns their head to see this woman clearly, they vanish as if they were never there. She will, though, begin to get closer and closer to you as the day progresses. And at this point, the participant needs to ensure that they distance themselves from this strange woman. Should she catch up to you, it is claimed she will enter your dreams and torment you forever.

There is only one way to end the game, which is by the participant having her in their sight over their right shoulder while shouting the word “Kitta!” and making a chopping motion with their hands. However, given that she will disappear when you look at her, the participant has to be creative about how they achieve this.

You can check out the video below.

The Grim Reality Of The Legendary Suicide Forest

While there are indeed legends and stories that have emerged from the Aokigahara Forest, the grim fact is, as its other name suggests, [3] the Suicide Forest remains a very real horror-inducing fact of life in Japan. As we might guess from the forest’s morose moniker, many, many people have taken their own lives in this ancient woodland, and these figures run into at least hundreds every year.

As we will examine shortly, Japanese officials have recently stopped widely publishing such figures in an effort to deter people from visiting the location. In fact, the whole region is an area that Japanese authorities would largely like both the world and its own population to discreetly forget about. And, as we will examine, this is out of pure concern for those who decide to venture inside this most mysterious and ancient woodland.

The Suicide Forest

The Suicide Forest

There are numerous theories and suggestions as to what might cause this drastic mindset and why so many people choose to commit suicide there. Might it be the case that those who are already contemplated such action simply choose the location due to its already far-reaching and dark presence in the subconscious of the Japanese population? Or might there truly be something otherworldly that resides there and causes this most permanent of personal solutions?

In fact, we will start with some of the legends of ghostly and demonic entities that, according to some legends, very much do encourage such action.

The Yurei – Entities That “Encourage” Suicide And The “Evil Energy” That Stalks The Forest

Perhaps one of the most intriguing and chilling legends are those of the Yurei – said to be ghosts or entities that roam the forest looking for those who might be considering taking their own lives and then encouraging them [4] to do so.

According to Japanese legends, if someone suffers from a sudden or violent death, their spirit will essentially become a Yurei, and will roam the woodlands seeking vengeance for their own untimely demise.

Those who subscribe to the legends of the Yurei claim that those who encounter them, although they might not physically see them, will likely experience sudden feelings of loneliness, desperation, and even despair.

We might also remind ourselves that other locations around the world have a reputation for inducing such disturbing feelings and emotions. Perhaps one of the best examples might be Ben Macdui in Scotland, where many people have claimed to have suddenly been overcome with such dark thoughts and feelings – feelings which appear to have dissipated as soon as they escaped the confines (and perhaps the influence) of the location.

A picture of discarded belongings on the forest floor

Belongings of those who have taken their own lives in the Suicide Forest

How real such legends are is perhaps open to debate, at least to some. However, we might remind ourselves of some of the disturbing legends we have examined above and the parallels of otherworldly entities looking to influence and in some cases, consume, human beings.

Other legends that are bordering on the paranormal are that an “evil energy” resides within the forest and is essentially a “force” from another realm that preys on those who find themselves within its dark confines.

Some people believe that this evil energy likely stems, if only in part, from the practice of the nineteenth century that saw families bring elderly family members to the forest and leaving them there to “die with dignity”.

Might this “evil” force be the vengeful spirits of those who were led on such a one-way journey? It is certainly something worth considering. And might these unfortunate elderly people who met their own lonely ends in the forest become the Yureis that we examined briefly above?

The Very Real Facts Of The Suicide Forest

Legends and folklore aside, those who might venture into the Suicide Forest – even out of grim curiosity – will find some disturbing things. We have already mentioned that in excess of 100 dead bodies are discovered and removed [5] from the forest each year. Others remain officially undiscovered, happened upon instead by those who venture into the forest out of curiosity or even to take their own lives themselves.

There are also multiple scattered personal items to be found on the forest floor. And these range from items of clothing, backpacks, mobile phones, notebooks, and even empty packets of prescription drugs.

Furthermore, intertwined among the trees and vegetation are a collection of seemingly random ribbons. These are markers for some who have gone into the forest with consideration of suicide, but who can use the ribbons to make their way back out safely if they change their mind. Many of these ribbons, though, if you should choose to follow them, will lead to a location of suicide, or even worse, a dead body.

A sign warning against suicide in the Suicide Forest

A sign warning against suicide in the Suicide Forest

As well those already harrowing discoveries, you can expect to see regular warning signs of the nature of the forest which also aim to discourage people from taking their own lives and to instead seek help.

These signs alone, placed by official authorities and not those who have taken it upon themselves to reach out to those who are undoubtedly in a mentally dark place, should tell us all we need to know of the seriousness of the situation in the Aokigahara Forest.

Just why do so many people choose to end their lives here?

Magnetic Anomalies And Connections To Mount Fuji

If we move aside the notion that those already suffering from suicidal thoughts choose this location to take their own lives simply due to the reputation it already has, as well explanations of a more paranormal or supernatural nature for a moment, what other reasons might there be to explain the dark nature of the Suicide Forest?

Perhaps some of the suggestions that have a little more of a scientific grounding is that magnetic anomalies [6] might be responsible for the increased number of suicides in the forest in question. And this could especially prove to be the case with those who might venture into the potentially deadly woodland with real and genuine thoughts of taking their own lives to begin with.

Interestingly or not, those who have attempted to find reasons as to the increase in suicides in this part of Japan have also looked at other locations around the world and found that when there were slight or significant increases of suicide, there were often magnetic anomalies at the same time.

Some researchers have even pointed to connections to Mount Fuji, which was, indirectly, responsible for the creation of the forest following a huge volcanic eruption in 864. Following the eruption and hardening of lava over an area of approximately 12 square miles, what we know as the Suicide Forest reclaimed the ruined land. However, as it did so, many strange, and in some cases, unexplored cave systems were formed.

We should also point out that many of the population – both in ancient and more recent times – worshipped Mount Fuji as a divine entity. Whether this worship morphed into the dark legends and, for some, the collective beliefs that overtook the Suicide Forest or not is perhaps a topic for debate.

The short video below looks at the legends and grim reality of Japan’s suicide forest a little further.

Further Legends Of Mount Fuji

Whether or not there is a connection between Mount Fuji and the very real accounts and events of the Suicide Forest, there are many further legends connected to some of the country’s majestic mountainous terrain and woodlands.

And many of those are connected to Mount Fuji, coincidentally or not. Without a doubt, the mountain and the surrounding areas are some of the most intriguing in all of Japan. In fact, it is perhaps worth our time staying with Mount Fuji for a little while longer.

We have already mentioned of the belief that the mountain had a divine connection. For example, Sengen is the Goddess of Fuji and some of the legends surrounding her are particularly interesting.

In the book Myths and Legends of Japan, F. Hadland Davis writes that “this Goddess hovered in a luminous cloud above the crater” [7] of the mountain’s summit. What is perhaps interesting is that many UFO researchers suggest mountains (and volcanos) make the perfect location for visits or even for secret extraterrestrial bases.

Picture of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

What might the “luminous cloud” have been in reality? Might this be a reference in the legend of a UFO event? After all, many UFO researchers point to other ancient texts, legends, and writings that involve mountains and apparent UFO encounters – perhaps the ten commandments writings and the meeting of Moses with “God” on Mount Sinai is a good example.

What’s more, Davis also tells of the “Luminous Maiden” who lured an emperor to the mountain where he promptly “vanished”. Once more, although it is rampant speculation, might this be a hint at an ancient alien abduction?

Other legends of this intriguing mountain assert that it holds the Elixir of Life and the secrets to eternal youth, with further legends of many who had set out on missions up the mountain in order to obtain this secret of secrets. Other legends tell of people who have indeed reached mysterious realms where those who reside there experience “perpetual youth”. One particular legend [8] tells of a person named Sentaro who reached such a land. However, when he returned home, 300 years had passed.

UFO And Alien Connections To Be Found In Japanese Legends?

We know that Japan has had more than its own share of UFO, alien, and even Men In Black encounters over the years, with some of them stretching back into antiquity. Might there be a connection to some of the legends and folklore of the country to the UFO and alien question? We have already highlighted, for example, the potential UFO connections to legends of the Gods of Mount Fuji.

Another intriguing case of such UFO encounters to have taken place long before the modern UFO era unfolded in 1803, known in UFO circles as the Utsuro-Bune legend in which a strange lady was discovered in a floating saucer-like vehicle on the coastline.

We have also examined the account of “Kazu” from the modern era, whose close friend appeared to have an encounter with the Men In Black on a Tokyo night bus. The basics of that account feature the friend (Nobu) – who had an intense interest in UFOs, incidentally – boarding a bus late one evening after work in order to return home. Initially, he was alone on the bus before an elderly-looking man dressed completely in black got on. Despite the entire bus being free, the stranger sat opposite Nobu.

It was at this point when he noticed the strange man looking out of his window in order that he could watch him in the reflection. Eventually, with a mixture of curiosity and fear, Nobu turned to face the unnerving gentleman. He would notice how “pale” the man’s skin was and how he had the look “of an old man and a baby all at the same time”. Even stranger, when the man wiped his sweating head, Nobu believed he could see a “streaking” on the man’s skin as if he had just wiped away make-up.

A picture of a person walking down a Japanese street at night

Why are Japanese legends so enthralling?

Now completely unnerved, Nobu got up and went to get off the bus. Before he did, he looked back to see what the strange man was doing. He was shocked to find that he had seemingly vanished into thin air. Whether there was a connection to Nobu’s interest in UFOs or not is uncertain.

There have also been strange encounters in Japan that are almost identical to Black-Eyed Children encounters, that sit somewhere between UFO and alien encounters and those of the Men In Black. Perhaps the best example is that of “Tom” who after answering his front door one evening saw three men, dressed in dark suits on his doorstep asking to speak with a Mr. Yamada. After he told them that a man of that name did not live there, the men persisted in their attempts to gain entry into Tom’s home, and despite him feeling as if there was “an underlying threat” coming from the strange men, they eventually left when he refused permission – a detail that surfaces in many Black-Eyed Children encounters.

The Sayama City alien incidents of the late-1970s also featured apparent extraterrestrial creatures that would sit nicely in the realms of folklore and legends. While it is perhaps a simplistic question to ask, might some of these UFO, alien, and Men In Black encounters of the modern age be modern perceptions of some of the many legends of Japan, in the same way that some believe they are elsewhere in the world?

Why Might Folklore And Urban Legends Be So Rife In Japan?

Are there really more legends from Japan than anywhere else on Earth? Or might they have simply been documented, recorded, and passed down better here than elsewhere?

We know, for example, the United States has a plethora of legends and tales of ghosts and strange entities, many of which we have examined before, such as the legends of the Hudson Valley or the San Luis Valley. Furthermore, Europe, Russia (including the old Soviet Union), China, South America, and Africa all have an equal number of strange and, at times, terrifying folklore tales and legends.

So, with that in mind, what might make the Japanese legends so enthralling and widespread, and why are there so many? Is it the culture, the environment, or perhaps a combination of the two? This is a question that has literally been asked over the pages of entire volumes and is perhaps impossible to answer, even for those who have a great grasp of Japanese culture. Perhaps of more interest is how these myths and legends fit into the modern world and the mysteries of our own contemporary era?

And might these often-harrowing legends be responsible, if only in part, for the dark, brutal surroundings of the Suicide Forest and the many tragic deaths that have occurred there? Might the legends of dark spirits seeking vengeance have contributed to an atmosphere and environment that is so palpable that it plays havoc with peoples’ minds and emotions? While we should stress the actions in the Suicide Forest are tragically very real, the dark legends that reside there must surely have at least a partial effect? And certainly should not be ignored.

If one thing is certain, it is that the folklore and legends that come out of Japan are extremely intriguing and more than hold their own against those of other countries and regions. And they will undoubtedly continue to fascinate researchers for decades, if not centuries to come.

The short video below looks at the legends and folklore of Japan a little further.


1 Japanese Yokai, Urban Legends and More, Vince Bios, ISBN 9781311 354228
2 The legend of Aka Manto, Maria Mohsin, TBS News January 28th, 2020 https://www.tbsnews.net/splash/legend-aka-manto-39937
3 The Truth About Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, Wander Lusting K, March 31st, 2017 https://www.wanderlustingk.com/travel-blog/aokigahara-forest-japan
4 Aokigahara (Suicide Forest), Ghosts Fandom https://ghosts.fandom.com/wiki/Aokigahara_(Suicide_Forest)
5 The suicide forest of Japan: Mount Fuji beauty spot where up to 100 bodies are found every year, Lyle Brennan, Mail Online, April 9th, 2012 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2127414/The-suicide-forest-Japan-Mystery-Mount-Fuji-beauty-spot-100-bodies-year.html
6 Association of geomagnetic disturbances and suicides in Japan, 1999–2010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890079/
7 Myths and Legends of Japan, F. Hadland Davis, ISBN 9780486 122038
8 The Story Of The Man Who Did Not Wish To Die, Yei Theodora Ozaki, Japanese Fairy Tales https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/72/japanese-fairy-tales/4876/the-story-of-the-man-who-did-not-wish-to-die/

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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