Hello Kitty adds Japanese exorcism to her work repertoire, Twitter baffled and amused

Is there anything Kitty can’t do? She can spiritually purify your house or room with salt now, so tell your ghost stories without fear of retribution!

Hello Kitty is one of the world’s foremost workaholics. When she isn’t manning her own Shinkansen train, teaming up with the Japan Coast Guard, starring in her own movie, attending the weddings of fans, breathing new life into the Bon Odori dance, toiling at a cake store for charity or revolutionizing the very currency of her home country, Kitty can be found sticking her adorably chubby paws into all manners of corporate pies.

The CEO of Sanrio itself has been candid about why the company is constantly clamoring to collaborate. Not only does Kitty get to spread her brand, but she gets to boost the awareness of all manner of different companies! Back in 2017, Kitty joined forces with interior design company Belluna to create perhaps the strangest of all of her collaborations to date, and a viral tweet has gotten everyone chatting about it again.

“With it being summer and all, I’m itching to tell some good ghost stories. I should get a morijio to purify the area so no spirits curse me… Ah, they have a Hello Kitty morijio.”

Summer is the typical time in Japan to huddle with your friends and tell a bone-chilling scary story. The slow, creeping heat; the dismal whir of cicadas in the background… It’s a great atmosphere to generate goose-flesh. But if you’re superstitious, you might want to take precautions that your levity doesn’t anger any wrathful spirits in the area. Cue the humble morijio, or ‘salt pile’.

You may have seen these pointy piles of salt around shrines, on the porches of houses or in the windows of restaurants. The reason they’re popular is two-fold: first is an enduring Heian-period urban legend that the salt will lure the oxen of rich merchants to your store and boost your business, much like how Kitty does to flagging franchises. The second is that salt is a purifier, and putting the little pile of salt out front shows that your house or store is free of pesky spirits.

Belluna’s collaborative item, the Hello Kitty Happy Morijio Set, comes in a stylish dusky pink. It consists of two parts: a small geometric dish edged with gold lacquer to rest your salt on top of, and a cap to cover the salt with so it can maintain its perfect cone shape. The cap even comes adorned with a tiny, perfect Kitty ribbon! A steal at 3,800 yen (US$33.70) plus tax.

Alas – even with the renewed interest around the spooky summer season, the Happy Morijio Set is all sold out on Belluna, leaving horror fans decidedly unhappy. Here’s hoping they restock this bizarre item so we can enjoy Kitty’s cute aesthetic even while ridding our houses of malevolent energy.

Source, featured image: Belluna

“Ghost photo” shows Kyoto’s breathtaking Fushimi Inari Shrine can be bone-chilling at night

And that flash of light isn’t even the scariest part of the snapshot.

In the span of a few years, Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine has gone from being relatively unknown to foreign travelers to being one of their favorite destinations in Japan. And its popularity is well-deserved, as wandering through the hillside tunnels of thousands of Shinto torii gates makes for a beautiful, unforgettable experience, especially if the late afternoon sunlight is filtering through the gaps in the torii.

However, Fushimi Inari can feel a little less inviting once the sun goes down. Just like many Western horror tales are set in or around secluded churches, Japan has a long tradition of ghost stories that take place at rural shrines. The higher you climb along Fushimi Inari’s pathways, the farther you get from the light of the city, which can make it feel like the world of the living is also growing distant, which brings us to a creepy snapshot taken by Japanese Twitter user @mcoscam.

“I was taking photos at Fushimi Inari Shrine at night, and I ended up with this freaky one…So scared I’m about to cry…”

“What happened?” asked a shocked commenter, to which @mcoscam replied “That’s what I want to know!”

Following the ghostly streak of light its farthest point from the lens, it seems to stop at a hanging lantern, or perhaps the brightest part of the reflection of the camera’s flash. Somehow this light source then got smeared in an undulating arc when the image was captured. That’s got to be what’s going on, right? After all, ghosts aren’t real…

…is what we keep trying to convince ourselves as we look at this subtly startling portion of @mcoscam’s photo, which escaped our notice until another Twitter user shared a zoomed-in version.

Once again, though, this looks to be a trick of the light, though one with a connection to local religious customs. See, each of the torii at Fushimi Inari is paid for by a donor, often a business looking to curry favor with Inari, the Shinto god of commerce. Torii are added as donations are made, which means that adjacent gates may actually have been installed several years apart from each other, and so their paint, metal fittings, and other components will be in different states of weathering and/or disrepair. As a result, the surfaces of the torii tunnels don’t reflect light uniformly, which can cause irregular shapes like the “silhouette” seen in the photos above.

So as spooky as @mcoscam’s photo may be, this probably isn’t concrete proof that the shrine is haunted. As a matter of fact, some of @mcoscam’s other photos from that night show that Fushimi Inari has a unique beauty after dark, which we also saw when we took a look at its midsummer Motomiya Festival.

Still, if you decide to plan your trip to Fushimi Inari for early enough in the day so that you’ll be done before sundown, we won’t blame you.

Source: Twitter/@mcoscam via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@mcoscam
Top, insert images ©SoraNews24

Highway “ghost” spooks YouTube viewers in Japan【Video】

The driver in this strange dashboard camera footage says it all: “Whaaaaaaaa?!”

On 6 June, a video was posted on YouTube labeled “Ghost Encounter while Driving on the Highway!” While the encounter may not be of the supernatural kind, it certainly is highly unusual.

In the video we are in the front seat of a car traveling down the highway at high speeds. Another car pulls up alongside our car, but just as it does a lone figure suddenly appears right between both vehicles.

It doesn’t look as if the person was hit, which along with the general blurriness of the video prompted some to assume it was a ghost. Others were compelled to agree, or at least went along with it so they could make some jokes.

“He’s transparent. There are no head, lower body, or shadows.”
“Whether it’s a ghost or a real guy, it’s scary either way.”
“It’s a ghost coming back from the convenience store.”
“Why does a ghost have a plastic bag?”
“A g-g-g-ghost…who’s been sh-sh-sh-shopping!”
“We can’t rule out that this might be a Terminator.”

The fact that the figure on the road is clearly holding a plastic bag certainly does cast a shadow of doubt on it being a specter. I try to keep an open mind about things, but for some reason a ghost with a plastic shopping bag is just too hard to accept – one of those fancy brand name paper bags perhaps, but that is a discussion for another day.

The time stamp in the corner is also suspicious, showing us that the incident actually happened in August of 2017. Sure enough here is the original video from that time, presumably posted by the driver himself and titled, “Pedestrian on the Highway,” with no mention of a ghost.

Interestingly, the original video, which has been up on YouTube for nearly a year, has only gotten about 51,000 views to date, whereas the “ghost” video racked up about 260,000 views in a couple days. Let this be a lesson for all you aspiring YouTube posters – ghosts sell!

Anyway, there’s still the mystery of who this person is and why they are out in the middle of the freeway at midnight. The most common guess is an elderly person suffering from dementia, but others have suggested some daredevil kid or a lost drunk.

The good news is that it doesn’t appear the person was hit on that night. Thanks to the original poster we know it was in Nagoya and we know exactly when it happened, but there don’t appear to be any corresponding reports of anyone wandering the highways or getting killed in such a way during that time.

Of course, there’s a chance it happened but never made the news, but the very next day, on 15 August, there were several reports on an increase of cats wandering onto the highways of Nagoya and getting struck by cars. Surely a person getting hit would be newsworthy as well…I think.

Sign: “Watch out for cats, two kilometers ahead”

So, it seems likely this person managed to get out of there safely. Actually, in light of that other news, it might not be far-fetched to guess that this person might have been a cat-lover out there trying to catch one of the felines on the highway. Perhaps the plastic bag was full of food to attract them?

Anything’s possible, but if you’re digging the idea that this might be a ghost, one interesting point is that this happened right in Japan’s Obon season. This is a time when it was traditionally believed spirits returned to the realm of the living.

Regardless of what is really going on in it, this video is still an excellent example of how fast objects on the road can come at you when traveling at high speed. Hopefully it reminds all those ghost hunters out there about the importance of being alert and keeping your eyes on the road.

Source: YouTube/Ryuryu, YouTube/nippon1900, Kinisoku
Images: YouTube/nippon1900

Photo filter makes food look delicious, transforms little Japanese girl into terrifying ghost

Spicy chicken entrée is accompanied by a chilling side dish of J Horror.

Japan is a nation of social media-loving unabashed foodies, and so people are constantly trying, and snapping photos of, whatever the latest trendy food or flavor is. For the past several months, mint chocolate has had a strong hold on dessert fans, but the big thing in main dishes right now is dak-galbi, spicy Korean-style stir-fried chicken, all covered with cheese.

That’s what the friend of Japanese Twitter user @handmadesiyouzu, and the friend’s daughter, dined on for dinner recently. The father decided to snap a photo of the platter, and to make sure the yellow of the cheese, the red of the spices, and the green of the vegetables really popped, he used a photo filter app called Foodie. And to the program’s credit, it really did dial up the intensity. Just look at that vibrant pile of chicken…

…provided, of course, you can look at the picture without the terrifying ghost girl in the upper left corner making you cover your eyes in fear!

Apparently whatever color-adjusting protocols Foodie uses for food don’t work nearly as well on people. So while the cheese dak-galbi looks so colorful in the photo that you feel like you could reach out and grab a bite, the automatic alterations made to the friend’s daughter will have you feeling like she’s going to reach out and grab your soul.

“All I can see her as is a vengeful spirit,” quipped @handmadesiyouzu as he tweeted the photo. Other commenters offered their own takes:

“I’m sure she ordinarily looks really cute, and that just makes the picture even scarier.”
“Ah, it’s one of those long-haired ghosts, just like in the movies.”
“Wait, you’re sure your friend actually has a daughter, right?”
“She looks totally merciless…”
“Why is she haunting the cheese dak-galbi?”

Still, we can’t argue with the fact that Foodie does a fine job of making food look tasty. If you’re using it, though, you might want to make sure you don’t have any of your fellow diners in-frame, though, unless you’re also looking to take some Halloween or otherwise horror-themed cosplay pictures at the same time.

Source: Twitter/@handmadesiyouzu via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@handmadesiyouzu

A late-night visit to Japan’s execution site Cursed Pine Tree【Hunted Tokyo】

The tree is said to curse those who draw near, but thankfully divine protection is available nearby.

While we didn’t initially hire him for his ghost-hunting skills, RocketNews24’s Japanese-language reporter Ryo has become our go-to-guy for investigating rumors of paranormal activity in Tokyo. For his latest brush with the transmundane, though, Ryo had to journey outside the capital, to the neighboring prefecture of Chiba.

Knowing of Ryo’s professional interest in purportedly haunted locations, one of his friends clued him in about a haunted pine tree near Nishi Chiba train station. Legend has it that long ago, a criminal was executed at the spot, and that later a pine tree was planted at the site as a memorial. But while this may have eased the suffering of the dead man’s spirit, the tree itself has since become a source of dread.

▼ Nishi Chiba Station

Rumor has it that there have been multiple attempts to cut down the Cursed Pine, but that each time the workers assigned to the task have been injured in accidents or fallen ill before the tree could be felled. Ryo’s friend, who lives in the area, claims to have seen a clear, ghost-like figure near the tree late at night, and some locals say that a curse will be placed upon any curious individuals who approach the tree too closely.

Ryo arrived at Nishi Chiba Station shortly after 10 p.m. and headed out the north exit. He originally intended to head straight to the Cursed Pine, but no sooner had Ryo stepped out of the ticket gate than his eyes were drawn to a torii, the gate that marks the entrance to a Shinto shrine.

Ryo felt himself being drawn toward the torii, and as he stepped through its pillars, he found himself on a dimly lit path flanked by banners bearing the characters for Nishi Chiba Inari Daimyojin, the name of the shrine.

With the banners fluttering in an unusually strong nighttime wind, Ryo continued walking down the path. He was now completely alone, and could no longer feel any presence of the people who had been milling about inside the nearby station.

Arriving at the altar, he saw two fox spirit statues. Ryo tossed a coin into the collection box and offered a prayer, asking the shrine’s deity to protect him on his ghost hunt. He then reversed his steps and walked back out through the torii.

Once again right outside the station’s north exit, Ryo could see a thin strip of greenery bordered by the roadway on one side and the taxi lane/bus stop on another, and standing in the center of the median is the Cursed Pine.

The Cursed Pine is taller than the streetlights, and so its upper branches are obscured in shadow. As Ryo stepped walked the asphalt, the dark spire of the tree projected a foreboding atmosphere.

Now directly under the tree, thin strips of light filtered through its branches, as though they were judging Ryo and deciding whether his temerity could be forgiven.

Just then, Ryo heard a rustling overhead. He looked up, expecting to see a bird or cat balanced on the branches, but there was no visible sign of any living thing.

And yet, Ryo couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow there were thousands of eyes watching him.

With his reserves of courage rapidly dwindling, Ryo turned his camera around and snapped a selfie with the Cursed Pine, hoping that if there were any ghosts residing in the tree, they wouldn’t be able to resist this golden opportunity to photobomb/traumatize him.

However, the photo shows only Ryo and his arboreal acquaintance. Perhaps the spirits are camera-shy?

Or maybe Ryo’s prayer at the shrine just before approaching the tree kept the apparitions at bay. Lending further weight to the divine protection theory is that fact that several days have passed since Ryo visited the Cursed Pine, and Ryo is yet to meet with any calamities. And really, with all he’s been through recently, the guy really doesn’t need any more misfortune.

Photos ©RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]

Creepy video shows housekeeper who’s either demonically possessed or really wants a new job【Vid】

Housekeeper in Singapore is definitely giving the Internet chills, might also be trying to give her resignation notice.

If Japanese cinema has taught the world anything, it’s that if you see black-and-white video footage of a woman with long, face-obscuring hair, something supernatural, or at least preternatural, is about to go down. This understanding has now spread beyond Japan and is commonly known around the world, so we imagine Singapore resident Nurul Baker must have felt a chill go down his spine when he saw what his housekeeper was doing through his apartment’s CCTV setup.

Baker says the footage, which has since been shared online by All Singapore Stuff, was recorded shortly after his maid got out of the shower on March 23. While there’s nothing unusual about personal hygiene, it’s what she did next that has some Internet users freaked out.

Standing hunched over in the floorspace between the dining area and sofa, the housekeeper can be seen purposefully pointing at some unseen object or being. She momentarily lifts her head, revealing an unsettling countenance, before turning and taking a few steps towards the background. Suddenly, she again points to the empty space to the left of the camera’s field of view, and then sits down on the floor, fiddles with her foot, and eventually collapses onto her back, with her arms splayed at her sides.

” My maid got possessed by ghost in my HDB [Housing and Development Board] flat after she came out of the shower.…Lucky mum and kids were not home” says Baker of the video. The two most likely explanations for the housekeeper’s behavior, of course, are spiritual possession and rehearsing for a role in a Singaporean remake of a J-horror film, but some who have seen the video have put forward a third theory.

Despite the apartment looking fairly spacious (it’s at least big enough that Baker would rather hire someone to clean the place than handle the task himself), the woman’s erratic behavior all takes place where it can be easily captured by the camera. It’s like she wants to make sure someone sees her, which has led some to speculate that this is a stunt the maid is pulling in hopes that it’ll get her fired from her job.

Creeping your employer out is definitely an effective way of getting terminated from a position, and if nothing else, faking possession is less financially damaging than drinking all the fancy booze your boss keeps in the liquor cabinet, and also much less gross than peeing on the sofa. Still, not being licensed spiritualists ourselves, we can’t completely rule out the possibility that ghosts have taken over the woman’s body, and if so, we’d recommend Baker contact the HDB to find out if the government agency offers exorcisms in addition to the other services it provides.

Sources: Facebook/All Singapore Stuff, Mirror
Featured image: Facebook/All Singapore Stuff
[ Read in Japanese ]

Toyama Park, where skeletal remains of over 100 people are said to have been found【Haunted Tokyo】

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We pay a midnight visit to this central Tokyo hill where rumor holds a ghost sobs in the dead of night.

There are plenty of ways to spend a cold night during a Japanese winter. You could head to a ramen restaurant for a fortifying bowl of piping-hot noodles, or hit up a bar with friends and knock back several cups of hot sake. Or you could simply stay home, camped out in your kotatsu where you’re safe from the chill of the outside world.

but if you’re RocketNews24’s Japanese-language correspondent Ryo, the only way to spend your nights is by walking the dark backstreets of Tokyo as you investigate the purportedly haunted places of Japan’s capital.

In his ongoing quest to experience the supernatural, Ryo’s latest stop is Toyama Park in Shinjuku Ward. The park isn’t too terribly far from RocketNews24 headquarters, but in the interest of maximizing the chance of meeting with entities from the world beyond, we insisted that Ryo perform his inspection in he middle of the night, and so he arrived at the Nishi Waseda subway station shortly after midnight.

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Toyama Park is divided into two sections, one of which is right next to the station. On this day, though, Ryo was headed to the other part of the park, which is about a 10-minute walk from the subway stop. Along the way, he had time to reflect on why we’d asked him to visit this particular site.

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See, back before the end of World War II, in the days of the Imperial Japanese army, there had been several military medical facilities in the area. Rumor has it that not all of them were for treating wounded soldiers, either. One facility is said to have been used by the army’s infamous Unit 731, a biological weapons development division which was also involved in human experimentation.

It’s said that the skeletal remains of more than 100 people have been found in Toyama Park. What’s more, it’s said that in the middle of the night, if you climb to the top of Hakoneyama, a 44.6-meter (146.3-foot) hill in the park’s eastern section, you can hear a disembodied male voice violently sobbing.

Things got even creepier when Ryo happened upon a local resident and asked him if he was headed in the right direction to get to Toyama Park. The man told Ryo that he was. He also told our reporter that he himself, while walking in the park on another night, had seen a hitodama, a will-o’-the-wisp-like phantasm formed when a soul leaves a human body.

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Eventually, Ryo spotted a sign marking the entrance to the park. While there were lampposts every few meters, the park remained largely shrouded in shadows, and there wasn’t another person to be seen.

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Ryo noticed a paved walking path, and began ambling along it towards the park’s interior. In the light of the afternoon, the inviting walkway probably would be rather pleasant, but isolated in the night as he was, Ryo couldn’t shake the feeling that it was leading him to something sinister.

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Eventually, Ryo’s eyes were drawn to a set of stairs heading towards higher ground. He’d arrived at the base of Hakoneyama.

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▼ The Hakoneyama base marker

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No sooner did Ryo place his foot upon the first step did the wind die down. As he climbed higher and higher, the only sound he could hear was the rustling of the dry fallen leaves as he stepped on them…unless what he was hearing was actually unseen creatures rustling in the bushes that edged the stairs.

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Halfway up the hill, a bench was waiting for Ryo. Had the sun been shining, this would have made a lovely spot to stop and catch his breath, but in the situation he found himself in, he was worried that if he sat down, he might be set upon by ravenous monsters, so he pressed on.

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As he progressed upward, he thought he could feel eyes on him, and the muscles of his back began to quiver involuntarily.

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Finally, Ryo reached the summit, his breath ragged from the combined effects of physical exertion and panic-induced fear.

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In the far distance shone the lights of the city. None of their luminescence reached to where stood, however. Cloaked in darkness, Ryo called out.

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“Wandering spirit! If you would make yourself known to me, let me hear your voice! I shall bear witness to your lament!”

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And yet, Ryo heard nothing in reply.

Maybe there is no ghost that haunts Toyama Park. Or perhaps he was taking the night off, or is simply a shy specter. Still, Hakoneyama remains an extremely creepy place to visit by yourself at night, so if you’re looking for a place to test your courage, or simply to be totally alone (bar the occasional ghost-hunting reporter), Toyama Park will do just fine.

Photos ©RocketNews24