Real Japanese Ghost Stories: The Shriekquel

More Spooky Tales From Our Readers!

Time to cozy up and scare yourself with more spooky tales submitted by Savvy readers.

In August, I gathered real ghost stories from people all across Japan to tie up the Obon season and asked for your submissions. I wasn’t disappointed! There are some spooky things happening all across the country. Also, a lot of people live in jiko bukken (stigmatized properties)—way more than I’d thought, to be honest.

Here are more scary stories of real-life experiences with the unexplained from all across Japan, in time for Halloween.

The hot businessman?

I worked in Akasaka and one night when I was on my way home I ended up like 100 meters back from this really hot guy. By hot, I mainly mean really well built, because I couldn’t see his face obviously. He seemed like he was heading straight to the same station entrance as me, so I was hoping to get a better look at him.

He crossed at the light and walked into the station entrance, and I ran after him, but like the instant he walked down the stairs, he was gone. It’s a fairly narrow staircase straight down, there’s nowhere he could have stopped or turned that I wouldn’t have seen. That’s why I always used that entrance because it was well-lit and there were no blind spots anywhere. I stopped and looked around all the same, but nope, the guy was gone.

I kept walking down to the platform, and right as I got on the train, I saw the same guy from behind—standing on the opposite side of the platform. What the heck was he?

—(Australian, 30s.)

Scratched by something

I was staying in a capsule hotel in Osaka, obviously alone, and was fast asleep. I was lying on my right side (I’m right-handed) and suddenly felt something burning on my back. It hurt so much I woke up, but I couldn’t feel anything touching me or see anything, so I forced myself to go back to sleep.

The next morning I woke up, got dressed and went to work. My back ached all day long so I put it down to sleeping on a strange mattress. I get home (Kobe) and no sooner do I start getting undressed to take a shower than my wife flips out. She drags me over to the bathroom mirror and points.

…I suddenly felt something burning on my back.

There, in the upper right side of my back, around the shoulder blade, is a series of scratches in the shape of a small triangle. They were deep enough to leave welts and bruises, but not to bleed. I couldn’t have done it, I tried reaching but am not that flexible, and as I said, I was alone. The marks took a few days to fade, but I never figured out where or what caused them.

—(Japanese, 40s).

Peeking ghost 

I was living in west Japan at the time, roughly 20 years ago, and we were having a sleepover at a friend’s place in the countryside (in a very large, old Japanese house). Most of my friends were asleep in the living room, but I was sharing a bed in a four-tatami (Japanese straw floor covering) room next to it with a female friend. It was in August.

We both woke up around 3 a.m., the two of us being really cold, to see a head peeking in from the fusuma (Japanese sliding screen), with long black hair, then withdrawing, then peeking in again. We thought a friend was pranking us by wearing a hood because no one at the party looked remotely like what we saw, but at breakfast the next morning everyone denied doing anything.

The owner of the house did say that a ghost was living on the couch and that they would hear him snoring sometimes, and would usually leave him a glass of water. I guess it was just curious?

—(Unknown).

The best neighbors

I loved my old apartment in Kanto even though it was a jiko bukken. I lived way out at the end of a train line and about 20 minute walk from there. My apartment building was one of those rectangular two-story ones, around 15 years old, and loved it. What made it so great though was my neighbors on two sides (I lived in the corner ground floor unit) were dead.

I wasn’t sure if they were really there or not

My building was built on land that the nearby local temple sold to a developer that had originally been meant as cemetery space. So to my apartment’s right and rear were nothing but rows of old-ish graves. It was perfect. Being a temple, of course, there was some chanting, the smell of incense and funerals or whatever to contend with, but because it was technically a jiko bukken, my rent was the same as my train pass cost for the month.

My only issue was during Obon, there’d be more people around than usual, and sometimes, late at night, I wasn’t sure if they were really there or not.

—(American, 40s).

Security guard

I’m a security guard in the Kanagawa area, and part of my job is to patrol abandoned but still owned buildings. Most of the problems with these properties come from “unknown” issues. Of course, there are sometimes homeless people we have to remove from the property, and urban explorers/street artists can be a problem, but that’s why my company used hidden security cameras throughout the bigger properties.

In one hotel I was patrolling—we entered and locked the front door behind us as is protocol. But after making our rounds, we came back down to find the door wide open and the one padlock sitting on the old reception desk in a spot that had been cleared of dust and debris.

We took photos, rechecked the first floor, then locked up and left. When we reviewed the footage (in case we needed to contact the police) there was nothing strange on the video. It’s like the door was locked, and then it wasn’t. My coworker thinks another guard or some kids were messing with us, but I’m not sure. How could someone remove the lock, enter, clear the desk, then leave it there on the counter without showing up on the camera at all?

—(Japanese, 50s.)

Do you believe in paranormal activities or the Japanese supernatural? Would you live in a jiko bukken? Or do you have your own eerie tales of Japan you’d like to share? If so, let us know—either by commenting below or by sending us an email with the subject: “My Japanese Ghost Story.”