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10 Haunting Asian Urban Legends That You Should Know About

The western hemisphere has always been infatuated with some of the horrific tales of the Orient. With films like The Grudge and The Ring being remade (both with reboots coming in the near future) here in the States, Americans, it seems, can’t get enough of these Asian tales of the macabre.

But what about those legends that are not yet famous enough to get film adaptations? Some of them aren’t even based on classic tales. Some are more recent, perhaps a bit too recent for our liking. Here is a list of Asian urban legends that are sure to have you screaming and reaching to the sake to calm your nerves.

Source: via youtube

Haunted Kleenex Commercial

Most of what comes out of Japan is quite confusing to the average American viewer. Take this Kleenex commercial for example. A woman is attempting to calm a demon boy (?) with a floating Kleenex (?). No explanation is given as to the reason the demon boy even exists, let alone why the woman would be trying to comfort him. One thing is for certain, however. Even Japanese consumers couldn’t figure this one out and called for the commercial to be taken off the air. As the legend goes, the curse actually goes on behind the scenes with one of the crewmembers dying in a horrific sauna accident. Some even say the entire crew died horrifically in bizarre accidents before the commercial even aired. Final Destination had to get its idea from somewhere.

Source via Ami Tamura/flickr

Slit-Mouthed Woman

According to this Asian urban legend, a woman who was horrifically disfigured by her husband returns as a malicious spirit. Kuchisake-Onna returns every so often to ask her poor victims if you think she looks pretty. She wears a scarf to cover her face and upon removing it, she asks the person a second time. Of Course, regardless of your answer, she will slit your mouth to resemble hers. Her most common origin story is that of the wife of a samurai who was caught cheating. When her husband found out, he drew his blade and cut her mouth from ear to ear stating, “Who will find you pretty, now?”

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Sesame Seed Beauty Cream

This Asian urban legend comes from South Korea and details the story of a young, beauty obsessed girl. She draws a bath and mixes sesame seeds and begins to soak in it. after several hours, her mother began to get worried and knocked on the door. The young girl told her it would be just a minute. more time had passed and the mother could take no more. Her Mother burst into the bathroom to find her young daughter, in the fetal position in the corner, picking our sesame seeds with a toothpick. While she had soaked in the bathtub, the seeds had rooted into the girls pours and she had to painfully extract them.

Source: via youtube

The Snake Woman

Nure Onna is an Asian urban legend of the Snake woman. The legend itself has two distinct descriptions of the beast. Both feature a woman’s head atop a reptilian body but one of the versions has arms and one does not. Generally hanging round rivers, hence the translation of “Wet Woman”, the Nure Onna chooses to trick her victims into submission despite being much stronger than humans. In one version of the story, she is disguised as a human woman holding a baby and crying for help. She will ask you to hold her baby so that she can rest. As soon as the victim obliges, the “baby” becomes as heavy as a boulder and the demon relieves the victim of their blood with her forked tongue.

Source: via

The Monkey Man of New Delhi

India is the site of our next Asian urban legend. As one would suspect from the title, the monkey man is a half man half monkey hybrid covered in black hair while other sightings say that he is a regular man wearing a fur coat and metal claws. First appearing in 2001, fifteen people have claimed to be attacked by the four-and-a-half foot tall annoyance but thankfully no kills…yet.

Source: via youtube

Human Pillars (Hitobashira)

This Asian urban legend dates back to the 17th century. In an effort to appease the gods, Japanese builders would lay live sacrifices inside the pillars of their buildings. This would ensure a stability and longevity to the project. Bones and human remains have been found standing up. the fact that most of the buildings from that era are still standing may prove something to the validity of their haunting claims.

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Midnight Bus

In China, a bus containing a driver, conductor, and four passengers consisting of a couple, a young man, and an old woman is the setting of this Asian urban legend. At one of the stops, the couple got off and two men got on carrying a third by the shoulders. The old woman kept looking at them as they put off an eerie vibe. The old woman looked at the young man and started screaming at him and accusing him of wanting to steal her purse. she demanded they pull over in order for her to report him to the police. They obliged and when the exited the bus, she explained that she thought the men were ghosts. the next morning the bus was found in a reservoir completely under water with the decomposed bodies of the driver, conductor, and one unknown man.

Source via pink tentacle


This Asian urban legend has the distinction of being disturbing and gross. As the legend goes, in any elementary school in the third stall of the washroom (sometimes even on the third floor), if you knock three times and ask, “Are you there, Hanako-san?” you may get a reply. If you hear in a small child’s voice, “Yes, I’m here!” you have the option of opening the stall door to reveal a small child with black hair pinned up and wearing a red skirt, or you can simply walk away. If you choose the former, Hanako-san may decide to let you live or suck you into the toilet. Fortunately, you have the option of running away if you are not frozen in terror.

Source: via the horror tree

Don Simeon Bernardo’s Tomb

Before his death, Don Simeon commissioned a statue of Satan defeating the Archangel Michael. After he died in 1934, he had instructed his children to place the statue in his tomb with a tablet that described Satan’s dominion over man. The Asian urban legend here is that those who live near the tomb have claimed that the statue has grown every year since. Even those who hang around the cemetery at night have claimed to be haunted. An iron cage was placed around the statue to protect those around it.

Source: via pinterest

Giant Skeleton

Also known as the Gashadokuro, this Asian urban legend hails from Japan. If you find yourself out late in the streets, you needn’t fear muggers or the occasional pervert but a 90 ft. skeleton may be something to keep an eye out for. the Gashadokuro makes its presence known with a ringing sensation in your ears and the gnashing of his teeth. if you are unfortunate enough to encounter this terror, he will pick you up, bite your head off and drink your blood. He does this as he was created from the bones of those who died of starvation.

Final thoughts

Asian urban legends, much like their cinema, are sometimes hard to comprehend. From giant skeletons to little girls hanging out in bathrooms, Asians have taken the art of horror stories and amped them up to eleven. A cursed commercial is one thing to consider, however a snake woman that tricks her victims into holding her baby so she can drain them of their blood takes it to another level. A Satan worshippers dying request is odd in and of itself, but the monument he erected due to his beliefs being haunted is another thing entirely. Not only does the eastern hemisphere have a leg up on technology, but their penchant for ghost stories seems to be second to none.