If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably realized that GaijinPot has really been amping up the spooky in honor of Halloween. We’ve reveled you with tales of Japan’s mythological ghosts and demons, and even told you some creepy Japanese legends that are based on true stories. But even after all of that, our lust for all things Halloween-y wasn’t satisfied.
We wanted more stories of ghostly encounters, straight from the mouths of the poor unfortunate souls who experienced them.
That’s where you come in, dear reader. We put the call out for real paranormal experiences in Japan, and you answered. Here are eight tales from the dark side summoned by GaijinPot readers who’ve met ghostly roommates and poltergeist children—and lived to tell the tale.
This happened half a year after I moved to Japan. It was Obon so there weren’t many people around. My mom and I were crossing the street after finishing our part-time job around 1 a.m. when I noticed four boys aged around 12 to 13 with the same buzzcut hairstyle laughing and goofing around across the lot.
I ignored them. When we crossed, I realized it was strange that there were kids still loitering at that time but when I looked back, they were already gone. I asked my mom, “Where did the kids go?” She asked me what I was talking about. We were completely alone.
Later I found out that years ago in that town there was a bus accident that killed most of its passengers—including students who were heading to participate in a baseball match. They were in the 6th grade.
It was winter 2017 in Nagoya. Cold wind whistled through the open hallways of the apartment-style girls’ dorm as everyone stayed up late cramming for finals. Past 2 a.m., I went to the bathroom and felt a presence behind me the whole time. It happened again the next night but I said nothing to my roommates. Right before New Year’s Eve, I told them. They had felt it too! We began noticing drawers left open and knives rattling.
It wasn’t until weeks later that our Japanese roommate told us the big secret the university was hiding from the foreign students. Four years prior the dorm had been co-ed until a student became pregnant. She couldn’t keep it, and her Japanese boyfriend committed suicide in one of the rooms, right before New Year’s. After that, the unit had to be kept empty because the trash would catch on fire or accidents would happen.
We never joked about ghosts again.
The Coworker Who Wasn’t There
I used to work in a bento shop. It was a very old place, practically torn apart, filled with old people and people who wouldn’t find a job anywhere else I guess. One of my tasks was checking products in the fridge, reading QR codes and writing them down. Wearing only my uniform it was freezing, but I was the youngest guy around, so my boss said it’d be for the best.
One day a new guy appeared and I had to show him the ropes. Minutes later he said it was too cold and he was going to go outside for a while, which was quite normal for newcomers. The section leader appeared and asked why I was taking so long.
I explained thoroughly but the section leader didn’t know what I was talking about. There wasn’t anyone new on the crew list. I’ve never seen him again.
Encounter in Nara
I was walking down a quiet street in Nara with my boyfriend one evening. It was just starting to get dark but the weather was nice so we were taking our time. Ahead, I noticed a young girl standing off to the side of the road staring at us. As we neared I smiled and greeted her but she simply continued to stare in silence until we had passed by.
I thought she was perhaps shy or wary of strangers so I didn’t think much of it until my boyfriend turned to me and asked who I was talking to. He was not the type to joke around and looked genuinely perplexed.
I turned to point out the girl, but she was gone. I couldn’t see anywhere she could have hidden in such a short amount of time and as I stared at the spot where she had been standing, I suddenly felt chills. Nothing more came of the incident but I didn’t venture out after dark again for quite a while. I still wonder about it but haven’t had the courage to return to that spot.
I visited the Japanese Imperial Naval tunnels Museum in Naha City, Okinawa two years ago and had a rather surprising experience. Deep down in the tunnels, there are numerous rooms where people had killed themselves or died from injury during the Battle of Okinawa.
One of these rooms has a barrier at the doorway, meaning that you can only look into the room. Inside the corner of the room is a small Buddhist Shrine where people throw coins and then say a prayer. I threw in a ¥10 coin, it hit the floor and within a second or two a coin next to it had risen up off the ground by about five feet and then flew to the other side of the room under the table with such force that it made me jump.
Of course, I was the only one there as it was very quiet at the museum that day and my camera was off at the time. Typical, eh? I went online and read Japanese websites that state that local people always see the figures of men in uniform at that museum, especially at night in and around the entrance of the museum.
Even walking through those tunnels, you always feel that someone is behind you.
The Thirsty Ghost
I was staying at a very cheap hotel close to Minami-Senju station. My Japanese friends said that the area used to be an execution ground in the Edo era, and a few hundred thousand people were killed there. The whole place seemed spooky to me—there’s a Buddha jizou statue called Kubikiri (“neck-cutting”) right at the station, another jizou statue nearby that sometimes throws off his metal hat, and an intersection called Namidabashi (bridge of tears).
Staying at my hotel became really creepy when I noticed that someone was turning my slippers 90 degrees sideways every time I left the room. My guess was that it was the staff doing it while cleaning but I always left the shoes facing the door so if they were turning my shoes, why 90 degrees only? Why not facing the room?
One day I asked the girl at the front desk if she knew something about my shoes being turned, and she said, “Yes, we are aware of this ghost, but no need to worry, he never hurts anyone and if you are annoyed by it, just put some sweets and some alcohol beside the door. You can eat and drink it later. But please pick something tasty that you like!”
I tried to be polite and understanding about Japanese ghost culture, so I bought a different drink every evening with some melon-pan and left it on a shelf beside the door. Guess what, my shoes were not turned sideways ever again! But one night I accidentally bought some really bad tasting green tea-based alcoholic drink and left the opened can as an offering.
The ghost probably didn’t like it either, because when I went to take a morning shower, I heard someone laughing from inside the walls. So be careful when you stay around the Minami-Senju station area!
The Case of the Demon Beans
It was the night of Setsubun in 2016. We received beans and an eho-maki (thick sushi roll) from the school where I was studying at the time. When I got back home, I tried to stick to their explanation regarding the steps of the rituals.
I did the mamemaki ritual (throwing the beans at the door to banish the evil spirits) and then tried to finish the eho-maki in one go but I failed. It was too much. It bothered me because I felt like something bad would happen because I didn’t finish it. I tried to forget about it and cleaned up all the beans from the floor, threw them away and went to bed.
After about three hours of sleep, I woke up and felt a vivid feeling of someone choking me. I opened my eyes again in a panic, sat up on my bed and put my legs on the floor.
I felt something weird underneath my feet.
And then it hit me.
The floor was covered with all the beans I had thrown away earlier that night.
Eikaiwa Phone Thief
I used to work at an Eikaiwa and some of the teachers told me there was a ghost. I never believed it until things escalated. All the teachers usually bought konbini store bento and ate together in one of the classrooms. We’d “call” the seat where we wanted to sit at the table by putting our phone or a water bottle in the spot.
Well, one day I could have sworn I put my phone in the spot I was going to sit in but when we came back from the konbini, I couldn’t find it. We looked everywhere for it and ended up finding it in the teacher’s lounge which was in a totally different part of the school. I said to my coworker, “you saw me put the phone down on the table, right?” She confirmed.
A few weeks later two coworkers saw a woman with long hair sitting in a classroom, next to a student we all knew. We couldn’t figure out who she was, and after our lessons, we realized no one could remember her actually being in their classes. The reception staff couldn’t recall any female students coming in with long hair either. Not only that, the real student who “she” was sitting next to didn’t even see her. All I gotta say is, stay away from NOVA in Kawasaki because there’s a ghost in that bitch.
— Randiah Camille Green
Stories have been minimally edited for clarity.