The first week I was in Yokohama I scared the crap out of myself by way of plumbing.
It was my first weekend in Japan, and as most humans like to do, my husband and I had eaten a few meals in our apartment, thus dirtying some dishes.
Late Sunday afternoon I decided to finally tackle these dishes (I have to admit it's still a novelty to me that I can let dishes sit in the sink for more than a few hours without bugs of some variety invading them).
As I turned on the hot water faucet and started scrubbing away, I heard a "whooshing" sound coming from our bathroom. The whooshing continued as and actually seemed to intensify as my dish washing continued. Turning off the kitchen faucet, which due to our teeny, tiny apartment is just about three feet from the bathroom sink, I listened to the whooshing a moment longer before moving into the bathroom to check it out.
The bathroom faucet was on, full force, and spewing hot water all over our Hobbit-hole bathroom.
For a moment I just stood there staring at it -- my first, equal parts freaked and annoyed reaction was, "OF COURSE we moved into an apartment with a haunted bathroom."
Eventually I came to my senses, turned off the faucet, and upon investigating, realized that the plumbing in our small building was basically all connected, so using the washing machine just outside our front door (which our neighbor was using at the time) plus turning on the hot water in the kitchen sink equaled spontaneous faucet spewing in our bathroom.
I totally debunked that shit, "Ghost Hunters" style. Or anti-"Ghost Hunters" style, however you want to see it.
As logical as it all was, all my years of reading about the "tricks" ghosts and demons play on you danced in my head that night, and washed my face with one eye open. That night I climbed into bed soapy-eyed and mildly spooked, staring out into the dark silence of our apartment willing any yurei (think the girl from "The Ring") to kindly stay in their respective shadows. Thankfully, the yureis, the obake, the onryo, and all their friends decided to stay away that night.
I'm comfy cozy again in my apartment, all ghosts seem to be simply bathroom pipe dwellers, and as Halloween approaches, I'm getting the itch to explore all the ghosts and ghouls Japan has to offer.
I mean, come on, it's October! Time to kick it into Creepy Corner high gear!
But where to start? As I'm still building up my courage to venture further and further away from my own home base subway station, I'd like to keep my initial outings to the Yokohama or Tokyo area. But trust me, there are no shortage of haunts around here.
To get your spooky juices flowing (ew) I've assembled a few locations that sound eerie and exciting, but if you have any ideas please let me know (Aokigahara Forest, as many of you have suggested, is on my list, but it's too far away for me right now).
Some of these places are harder to visit, but according to lots of "ghost seekers" online, with a little charm, polite asking of permission, or "strategic" investigating, anything is possible.
Ikego, The Middle Gate
The former site of a concentration camp where thousands of Chinese and Korean people were killed during World War II, Ikego is now a U.S. Military base.
Incinerators still stand on the base that were used in the concentration camp days, and it has three gates that separate the base from the Japanese community -- the main, middle, and back gates. The ghostly activity is focused on the middle gate.
Guards report hearing disembodied footsteps, voices, and feel like they are being watched when patrolling the middle gate. A soldier dressed in a brown uniform is supposedly seen walking back and forth between the middle and back gates. Oh yeah, and he has no legs.
On the The Shadowlands website, "email@example.com" claims to have potentially had a creepy encounter while making his way from the back gate, to the middle gate.
Aside from some odd noises probably attributed to natural causes, "iblooms" and his companion didn't see anything strange until:
At a certain point we walked past a small power plant which was fenced off and had perimeter illumination. After we passed it, I happened to notice that between the two of us we cast three shadows on the pavement. One from him, one from me and one slightly to the left and behind me. At the time I thought it was a secondary light source casting two shadows off of myself, but in retrospect I realized that if that were the case there should have been four shadows, two for each of us, not three...
Akasaka Weekly Mansion (Now called Hotel MyStays Akasaka)
The Akasaka Weekly Mansion, as most people seem to still refer to it, is arguably one of the most notoriously haunted hotels in Japan.
Building 1 is the hub of paranormal activity here, with reports of full bodied apparitions standing at the foot of visitors' beds (I hate that), ghostly mists that linger in the hallways then disappear into vents, and the specter of a woman CRAWLING AROUND THE ROOMS. (I dare you not to think about THAT when you're trying to sleep tonight.)
More sinister reports say that visitors have been touched by unseen hands, some say in a sexual manner, and one woman claims that an entity dragged her out of bed and across the floor, only by her hair.
Nobody seems to know what the origin of the ghosts are, but Building 1 has supposedly seen its share of suicides and unexpected deaths, so any ghosts haunting the Weekly Mansion might be attributed to such incidents.
This one might be a little tricky as it's probably more urban legend that actual haunted mansion. In fact, nobody really knows exactly where the Himuro Mansion is or was located. There are several conflicting theories about the location, but the story surrounding it is Creep-o-licious.
Supposedly just outside of Tokyo, the house was site of an occult ritual gone awry, which resulted in the death of seven family members and the suicide of their killer.
The basic story is about 50 years ago, a woman was raised completely apart from the rest of the world. She was raised this way so that her death, being drawn and quartered, would seal out the evils of the world. Unfortunately, as these things go, she fell secretly fell in love with a man, thus making her death ineffective against the evils of the world.
The Himuro family, having failed at their duty to raise her in solitude and stop all the evil, were dishonored and the head of the household decided to kill his family (it is unclear weather the sacrificial woman was a member of the family or not) and then kill himself.
People have reported that the house (if you can find it) is a terrifying place. Blood splatters around the house, a ghostly girl that has been photographed in the window, and a group of dead travelers with rope burns on their wrists are just a few of the horrors that many say haunt the mysterious Himuro Mansion. Supposedly the dead Himuro family lures people to their mansion to kill them in an attempt to fend off the evil that plagues them.
Wherever the Himuro Mansion may or may not be, it's a pretty delicious legend. Here's the thing -- the Himuro Mansion story really gained attention when it was touted as the "true story" behind Temco's video game "Fatal Frame," released in 2002. And nothing says THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED more than a video game or movie claiming "based on a true story."
In actuality, there's very little evidence that the Himuro Mansion actually exists, or at the very least, still exists.
I'd still love to visit the area, and maybe benefit from my own active imagination, but I'm not going to lie, as much as I love a good ghost story, I'm a little doubtful of this one.
And so begins my quest to discover creepy Japan. With Halloween just around the corner, I'm hoping more and more ghostly goings-on will present themselves. If nothing else, I found a bar that celebrates Halloween all year round, so maybe I'll find some kindred spirits to point me in the right direction.
And please! Tell me your suggestions for Creepy Corner Adventures! From what I can tell, you guys know way more about Japan than I do.