Urban Legends are told all over the world and in many different cultures. Often, urban legends and tales of ghosts from other countries are some of the most frightening. One of the scariest urban legends in Japan is known as Kuchisake-onna, or “Slit Mouth Woman”.
The Japanese Urban Legend states that Kuchisake-onna is the wandering spirit of a woman that was attacked by her husband, leaving her face grotesquely mutilated. She is known to wear a surgical mask that covers the lower half of her face and approach children who may be walking home from school (or anywhere else) in the evening. She is said to ask them if she is beautiful. If the child replies “No”. Kuchisake-onna will kill the unsuspecting child with scissors. If the child answers “yes” Kuchisake-onna will cut the child’s face to match her own.
Obviously Kuchisake-onna is not someone that you want to meet on a dark and lonely street and has terrified Japanese citizens for many many years. Although this is generally regarded as an urban legend, many Japanese believe that “Slit Mouth Woman” is real. There was an outbreak of panic over Kuchisake-onna during the 80’s and some schools even sent children home early for fear that they would encounter her. Even today, people are nervous when someone wearing a surgical mask approaches. Unfortunately, wearing surgical masks is common in Japan, especially in urban areas, to prevent disease and the spread of viruses.
The legend of Kuchisake-onna dates back to the days of the Samurai warriors. It was told that a Samurai became so angry at his wife that he cut her mouth with his sword, giving birth to the legend as we know it today. Some believe that Kuchisake-onna is the same woman, who’s tormented spirit still wanders the streets of Japan, looking for people to join her in her misery. Others have a more modern belief that she is a real person, however sadistic she may be.
It is told that the only way to escape the Kuchisake-onna is to confuse her. Some say that by answering her question without a “yes” or “no” you can confuse her long enough to escape. Telling her that she is only “average” looking is thought to work. It is also said that she has wonderful manners and when she first approaches, you should tell her that “you are very sorry but have a previous engagement.” Many believe that this is enough to send her on her way.
So is Kuchisake-onna Real? Some say that she only exists in ghost stories and is not be feared. Either way, Kuchisake-Onna or “Slit Mouth Woman” is definitely one of the scariest and darkest urban legends on earth. So if you happen to be in Japan after dark and see a woman wearing a surgical mask approaching, it is probably best to turn and run the other way.