A tale from the darkest depths of Japan's folklore

Ancient Japanese culture is filled with terrifying tales of ghosts, ghouls and other paranormal entities. In fact, some of the darkest, most twisted supernatural stories come from the country, spawning a menagerie of books, movies and other mediums of entertainment over the years.


One of the most common, and most terrifying, is the Onryo.


What is an Onryo?

An Onryo is the angered ghost of a dead woman who can return to our world to enact her vengeance upon the living. When a woman is scorned and hurt in life, particularly from a relationship, these powerful emotions of sorrow, hate and anger can drive Onryo to linger without passing on.



These feelings push them into attacking the living who made them feel that way. Onryo stories tell a variety of different attack methods, though one thing links them all: They are very psychological. It's common to find these spirits attempting to break lovers up, possibly even driving them both to suicide. On top of that, some say they even have the power to cause natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.


Onryo in history


"Do you think I'm beautiful?"


This is the haunting question that many Japanese claim precedes your death by the hands of the Onryo, Kuchisake-Onna. Legend has it that she is a ghost with long black hair who wears a surgical mask. If you answer her question, 'Yes', she takes her mask off to reveal large slits on her cheeks and murders you. If you answer no, she is likely to cut you in half or chop your head off.


Kuchisake-Onna likely lived hundreds of years ago, and is though to have been the wife of a samurai. One day she cheated on him, so in return he slit her cheeks with his sword. She eventually died, returning to life as an Onryo and murdering innocent travelers unlucky enough to meet her.


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