Date of Performance/Collection: 3/04/12
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Japanese
Informant: In Japan, there’s this… I have to think about this. There’s a women who got her face slitted. Kuchisake Onna, that’s her name! It’s a Japanese urban legend. Apparently she was mutilated by her jealous husband and she returned as a vengeful spirit. She caused a lot of panic, like teachers would even take students home and police would patrol the area.
Informant: Children walking home at night would encounter a women with a mask, you know like those sick masks people wear to prevent germs… anyways she would ask the child “am I pretty” and if the child said no, she would cut the child in half. And if the child said “yes” she would rip off her mask and her face was slitted or scarred from ear to ear. “how about now?” and if the child said “no” she would cut the child in half and if the child said “yes” she would cut the child’s face like hers.
Me: Could you run?
Informant: There is no way to escape because if you tried to run she would just reappear in front of you. But you could confuse her by asking her “am I pretty?” and she would be confused. Or you could say, “You are average” when she asked you and she would also be confused. Then you could run.
Me: When did you hear about this?
Informant: When I was in Japan! People would just warn people against her.
Me: Are you scared of her?
Informant: Not really… but I think if I walked alone at night I’d be scared.
Analysis: It is interesting how while the general consensus is that this story is merely another ghost tale, the stir that the caused in Japan was huge. Especially in 1979, there were reports of extra police around schools at night, and children being sent home because the streets were thought to be unsafe with this story around.
This is relatable to the story of the boogieman in Western culture, in the way that both entities seem to target children. However while the boogieman targets naughty children, research did not show whether Kuchisake-onna had a preference for how well-behaved her victims were. Perhaps the most terrifying part of the story is that the woman looks like a normal person, for many people in Japan wear sick masks.
Annotation: This story was a made into a Japanese horror film in 1996. Kuchisake-onna (Video,1996)