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.


36 responses to “Kuchisake-Onna

  1. Coral O'Keefe

    February 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    What are some good movies invovling a kuchisake onna?

    • Andrew Black

      February 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

      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.

      • makripsolhss

        February 29, 2016 at 8:30 am

        u dont have a life ……….go kill urself….do sth for humanity….

      • Angeles

        September 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm

        Thank u 😊

  2. Shaquille slaughter

    September 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Ho-ly fuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccck

  3. kass

    September 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    ooooooowwwwwwwwww you UGLY AND SKOODY

    • Noire

      October 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

      I love learning about urban legends, and the kuchisake-onna is probably one of the creepiest.

      • Anna

        November 17, 2012 at 10:13 am

        go to then……..

  4. Anna

    November 17, 2012 at 10:13 am

    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

    • CuntFaceMcGeee

      September 8, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Why are you in a net?

  5. Francisco

    June 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    You can buy a relatively cheap one or you buy one that
    cost a couple hundred dollars. A battery-powered toothbrush should be easy to hold and fairy simple
    to operate. Every time my parents will ask me if I brushed my teeth
    before going to bed I would always say yes even if I didn’t.


    June 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Throughout that movie, they’re traveling from place to place, but is that really safe. fake ones. Who even knows if it will happen.

  7. Eulalia

    July 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm

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  8. Kristine

    August 3, 2013 at 3:18 am

    You may want to rub the hose with soap as well as the various parts
    of the tank in closing the venturi. Their grilling units are all quality, upmarket,
    top of the line, well constructed and designed. The size of your grill will most likely determine
    the size of your propane tank.

  9. Sam

    October 27, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    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.

  10. AJ

    January 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Are there any records relating to the autopsy or the 2004 case?

  11. Kenzie

    February 27, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    What if you pretend to speak a different language???????😲(

  12. 5t44trg5

    February 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

    ti leei re o mankas?

  13. makripsolhss

    February 29, 2016 at 8:28 am

    dn me gamate kalytera….

  14. Anon

    July 1, 2016 at 12:04 am

    But what if you say something like “True beauty comes from inside” ????

  15. Static

    September 3, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    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

  16. Vatu

    September 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Tbh, She is beautiful both ways.

  17. Gdjdydhd

    October 5, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Wow terifying

  18. Bailey

    December 7, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Horrible story… definitely not pretty at all

  19. Radita.haque

    December 17, 2016 at 9:01 am

    She’s pretty, but not when she opens her mouth

  20. Radita.haque

    December 17, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Is it a true story?


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