Japan has a wealth of creepy ghost stories, but this one is particularly chilling.  Today’s topic is Kuchisake-Onna, the Slit-Mouthed Woman.  This ghost legend crosses over into the realm of urban legend and may have some basis in fact.

The original story of Kuchisake-Onna comes from the Heian period of Japan’s history, roughly 1200-800 years ago.  A beautiful woman, either wife or concubine to a samurai, was extraordinarily vain.  She cheated on the samurai.  When he discovered her treachery, he slit open her mouth from ear to ear, giving her a Glasgow smile, and asked her, “Who will think you are beautiful now?”

While the original tale is clearly a cautionary story to remain faithful, the story takes a creepy turn when the ghost of the Kuchisake-Onna began appearing in Japan in the 1970s.  The story goes that a woman would appear to people travelling alone at night.  The woman wore a surgical mask, not terribly uncommon in Japan, and would ask if the traveler thought she was pretty (“Watashi kirei?“).  If they said no, she would kill them immediately or at least slash their faces the same as hers, usually with a long pair of scissors.

If the hapless victim said yes, she would remove the mask and ask, “how about now?” (“Kore demo?“) revealing her bloody, gaping wounds.  If the person said no at this second point, she would again kill them, slashing open their mouth.  If, however, the person said yes again, they still would not be safe.  She would follow them home and kill them on the threshold of their house.  The only way to survive the encounter with this ghoulish creature is to answer yes the first time and “so-so” or “average” the second time, which caused the Kuchisake-Onna to pause and ponder the response, giving the victim a chance to escape.  Without this distraction, the victim cannot escape the ghost as she simply reappears before them if they try to run.

As mentioned, the Kuchisake-Onna began making steady appearances in the 1970s, and in 1979 she was supposedly chasing children.  Surprisingly enough, there is some basis for this. In 2007, a coroner found records that in the late 1970s there was a woman who chased children.  She was struck by a car and killed while in the midst of such a chase, and she did have a torn mouth similar to the story.  This woman was likely the cause of the panic in the late ’70s.

The legend, however, has not died.  It resurfaced in the early 2000s, and is still prevalent today, though the means of escape is now telling the ghost you have a previous appointment to attend to, at which point she’ll excuse her poor manners and depart.  The legend has even spread to South Korea, where she appears with a blood red face mask.

The story has been used as a basis for a number of manga and novels, as well as a series of J-horror films.  The Kuchisake-Onna is often mixed with the yūrei, depicted with similar long black hair which conceals her horrible smile.

86 thoughts on “Kuchisake-Onna

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    1. Well, there’s actually a movie called Kuchisake-Onna, and it has a sequel and prequel. It came out in 1996. The first is sub-titled in English and called Slit-Mouthed Woman and can be found on Netflix. Another is Carved, which is also about the Kuchisake-Onna, but has a nifty twist where she jumps bodies. It came out in 2007 and is also on Netflix.

      1. Omg after I read this someone started walking outside and knocked on my door. Opened it and I was a MAN with a mask who ask. ‘will you marry me’ in Japanese. I told him I didn’t know him. And he took of his mask to reveal a beautiful face. I must’ve passed out after that because I remember waking up by my front door with it slightly opened.

      1. noire have you heard of la llarona a urban ledgend from elsalvador
        all i can say my friend ivy is scared to go back to salva dor la llarona is REALLY creepy than kuchisake onna if u actually get into it im not joke

      2. You should try look up article and such of hachishakusama. I swear to god… Any movement or sound I heard made me flinch or freezed like somebody was holding a gun to my head!

      1. I love Kuchisake Onna Movies: Carved The Slit Mouth Woman And Carved The Scissors Massacre Anime: Kuchisake Onna Denetsubu

        Kuchisake Onna 👸: Watashi Kirei
        Kuchisake Onna👸: Kore Tawagoto Demo

  1. scaryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy………i am incredibly in love with Scary urban legends and i’m always reading about them in the net………….you can learn about urban legends in the site scaryforkids.com

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  5. I thought: if they said no the first time, they’ll be killed with scissors… If they said ‘no’ the second time they’ll be cut in half. If they still answered ‘yes’ then she would slit their mouths like hers.

  6. Its a pretty cool urban legend but just the hole slender man and Jeff the killer side of it ruined it for me and the fact that people compare her to Jeff is annoying

  7. Does she only appears in Japan or in other countries???
    Wat if we r wid our frnds will she appear ???

  8. I am from Japan but I moved to england 3 yrs ago… And I saw her, I gave her candy and then she was destracted , so I ran as fast as I could, she followed me home but I locked the door, window and I shut the blinds she asked “am I pretty”? I said,”your normal looking. She took off her mask and she said am I now? I said not a word, as I threw the candy. I was REALLY SCARED.

  9. looks creepy thankfully i don’t live in japan there are worse urban legends where i am from

  10. wait, what if you flirt with her, or at least try anything romantic with her, no I’m not looking for her to date but to see if she would be confused or at least flattered, or how about how in when you try to scare her or creep her out, or maybe just redirect the question usually like “idk am i pretty? then ill answer your question”.

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