In the past we have discussed urban legends from Japan, here at themodernistson.com
Today, we will be diving into some creepy tales and legends from the island located in Asia. With respect to previous articles, we talked about the Akaname or "filth licker", the Kappa, as well as the legend of the nine-tailed kitsune. Now, in terms of what we are doing today... it's my plan to discuss the weirder and creepier stories the island of Japan has to offer. More specifically, we will be looking at the ghost called "Teke Teke" because of the sound it emits when chasing victims, as well as some other legends.
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History of Japan:
The primary religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. Of course, it's not surprising that many legends from this country have religious connotations. With that in mind, the older a story is (at least when it comes to modern society), there's an increased chance these stories will involve religion to some extent.
By the 1600s to 1800s, this was when Japan became modernized. However, Japanese civilization dates back anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 years ago. Although we can't be certain of the cultural concepts these peoples saw as significant, it's likely they survived by hunting and gathering, using fire, and lived in cave dwellings.
Just think about this: most places in the world, people lived like this at some point. Of course, there are societies yet to be discovered. Perhaps there are still people living like this? We don't know. There are areas of South America modern human beings have yet to discover, so we have no idea what actually resides there. In terms of Japan, those temples we see today- many of those were built during the Feudal Era of Japanese history.
Photo by the talented Bernardo Lorena Ponte. Check out their work right here: https://unsplash.com/@pontebernardo
Hundreds of years ago in Japan, samurai warriors would play a certain game- much like sitting around the camp fire in the modern world. You know, the motif of competing to tell the best story possible. The game was called The Hyakumonogatari Kaidan, as warriors would sit in a circle of one hundred candles. Every time a story was told, one of the candles is blown out. The whole idea was: once all the candles had been blown out, a ghostly figure would appear to the warriors. That was when the real game begins.
One of the most interesting stories I've found was a ghost story called "Teke Teke". This story comes from the last few hundred years in Japan, since it involves trains as a means of transportation. With respect to the context of the story, here's an original narration based on the legend:
Many years ago, a young school girl had been bullied by the boys at her academy. This went on for several months, and back in those days teachers didn't pay much attention to those types of things. So, this behavior went mostly unnoticed. Unfortunately, the boys spotted the girl one night while she was waiting for the train- alone. Once they approached her and ensured she could not escape, the boys began beating and torturing the young girl until she was unconscious.
While the girl remained unconscious, the perpetrators tied her to the trains tracks. Based on the schedule, the train was due at any moment. No matter how much she fought, the numbers game proved too much. Once the boys had fled, the train grew closer. The young girl screamed for help, but no one was around. Within a moment's notice, the girl was sliced in half by the midnight train. Her body remained splattered on the train tracks, until she was found the next morning.
For those who see her at night, the vengeful spirit of this young girl will crawl on her hands or elbows- chasing her victims so they can meet a similar fate. The "Teke Teke" ghost dismembers her victims with a scythe, so their death is as painful as hers.
- Brandon Skanes, August 19, 2021.
So, what can we take away from this story? Well, one thing is that Japan is filled with some interesting ghost stories and urban legends.
Another thing, should this not be an incentive to stop bullying others? In term's of Japanese culture beliefs, there's the idea people will return as a violent spirit (or vengeful) if they experience death of the same nature. Therefore, this is a major aspect of the "Teke Teke" legend.
Something else caught my interest. This ghost kills her victims with a scythe. So, you know what I'm getting at? A scythe is the chosen weapon of "Death". Profound choice, since this ghost kills whoever she desires.
(c) Teke Teke 2 (a Japanese film from the 2000s). I'll be honest, finding a clip that depicts this legend wasn't easy. I found one from an anime called Ghost Stories, but it was horribly offensive.
But wait... we are NOT done here today.
"Wait... that dog has my face!"
This picture is from 2016, when I used a "face-swap" app to put Coryjj23's face on a dog's body.
This isn't necessarily a scary legend, but definitely one of the weirder stories Japan has to offer. Popular in the Edo era of Japanese history (from 1603 to 1868), the Jinmenken is literally a dog with a human face.
(c) Yokai Watch (anime). I'm convinced the Jinmenken featured in this episode was inspired by American actor and writer, Woody Allen.
If you find yourself wandering the streets of Japan at night, you just might encounter the Jinmenken. A sorrowful creature, in a way. Not surprisingly, these Jinmenken were once human beings, but met their fate when bitten by another creature of this type.
Japan's human-faced dogs are not evil creatures, nor are they violent. However, some people view these yokai as a "bad omen". Of course, the Jinmenken will also defend themselves if necessary. That's probably how people have been bitten by them, and become a Jinmenken themselves.
Although these humanoid creatures are mostly harmless, they have been blamed for accidents and disasters due to their strange appearance. Interestingly, these creatures had once again become popularized by the 1980s and 1990s. In some cases, residents of Japan believe the Jinmenken are the result of laboratory experiments. On the other hand, it's possible they are Japan's own variant of the "Chupacabra".
Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to let us know your thoughts!
The Modernist Son, 2020-2021.