Despite being something of a rationalist, I have long had an interest in the paranormal. It’s mostly bullshit, of course, but it’s entertaining bullshit and isn’t that what matters? Anyway, once in a while I get the urge to write something about ghosts and ghoulies and the like, and this seems as good a place as any to post such things, though most of these pieces are really re-postings of stuff I originally published at another site at a time when I thought I was interested enough to write these things on a regular basis.
One of the more bizarre figures I’ve come across over the last few years is that of Japan’s Slit-Mouthed Woman, also known as Kuchisake-onna, which translates rather indelicately as “Woman With A Slit For A Mouth.” This gross gal is something of an urban legend in Japan, but unlike most urban legends she gets taken rather seriously, so seriously that the authorities sometimes put out alerts warning that the slit mouthed chick is on the loose!
Reportedly the evil ghost of woman whose husband sliced her mouth open from ear to ear then killed her ( a practice apparently common amongst Japanese husbands ) Kuchisake-onna usually wears a surgical mask to hide her hideously disfigured mug. She is said to lurk around deserted places waiting for lone kiddies to wander by, though one would think she would find her prey in far greater numbers were she to hang out in not-so-deserted spots, but I guess brains aren’t any more her strong suit than is beauty. When, after many hours of waiting, some kid finally comes along, old Slit-Mouth goes up to the kid and asks them if they think she is beautiful. This is a rather stupid question given that at this point she is still wearing her surgical mask, but instead of the predictable “How the fuck should I know?” most of the time she gets either a “yes” or a “no.” If the kid says “No,” they are immediately hacked to pieces with a pair of scissors, the idea being that the police will end up looking for a demented tailor rather than a woman doing a bad imitation of a nurse. If the child responds with a “Yes,” Slit-Mouthed Woman removes her mask to reveal a hideous, jagged scar stretching from the sides of her mouth across her face and reaching as far back as her ears. She then asks the child a second time if they think she is beautiful. If the child says either “No” or “Er… yeah, kinda,” Slit-Mouthed Woman then murders the kid by stabbing them or, if she is in an especially bad mood due to all the waiting, by cutting them in half. If the child says “Yes,” in a convincing enough manner, Kuchisake-onna spares their life but uses the scissors to slice her victim’s mouth so that it looks just like hers! What an asshole!
Sightings of this unpleasant person began in 1979, though as is common with such things it is not certain in which part of Japan. Some say this charming gal first appeared in Gifu, others say it was in Shigaraki, but one thing is certain, and that is that we can all agree that both these places have really funny names. Regardless, the sightings quickly spread across Japan and eventually to Korea. The sightings were taken so seriously that some schools arranged for children to be taken home in groups rather than allowing them to go home by themselves, and the police increased their presence on the streets – especially the deserted ones.
There is not much point in trying to run away from the deadly babe as she possesses not only the ability to run at 100 mph, which is significantly faster than Oscar Pistorius fleeing the scene of a crime but nowhere near as fast as the Flash, but also the power to instantaneously teleport from one spot to another, presumably with a loud “Bamf!” sound and an accompanying stench of sulfur. There are, however, rumors that she can be tricked into letting you escape. Having a sweet tooth and a bad sense of hygiene, Slit-Mouthed Woman is prone to stopping and picking up any candy you throw at her. While she is busy trying desperately to adhere to the 3 second rule, you can make a run for it. Another supposedly effective method is to sidestep the question and simply tell her that she is average-looking, nothing special one way or the other, a bit of a “Meh…” This sort of evasiveness will make her suspect that you are a politician and she will run away in disgust. But here’s the coolest part of the whole thing, the aspect of the legend that marks Kuchisake-onna as the most Japanese of all monsters. It seems that you can save yourself from an early death by appealing to Kuchisake-onna’s respect for good manners! All you have to do is tell her that you have a previous appointment that you must keep. Since this implies that she is being rude by detaining you, she will promptly apologize profusely for delaying you then allow you to go on your way! I’m not sure what the moral of this part of the story is. It’s either that politeness is a bad thing, or that lying to your elders is a good thing, or that women shouldn’t be allowed to play with scissors.
And yes, the painting is by me. And no, the model wasn’t Yoko Ono…