Every region has had its own account of paranormal activities. These activities have made their way into the daily lives of people even after generations through folklore and stories. One of the oldest and the most popular ones amongst them is the story of a Japanese slit-mouthed woman.

The Original Tale

This is a paranormal urban legend about a woman Kuchisake-onna, who lived in Japan sometime between the years 794 and 1185 (Heian period). She was apparently the wife of a samurai warrior, who believed that she was cheating on him with another samurai. Out of agitation, he used his sword to slit her mouth from ear to ear as a punishment for her ill deeds. He then asked her ‘who will think you are beautiful now’, as according to him the slit made her look ugly and undesirable.

All that Mattered is External Beauty

This period in Japanese history (between 794 and 1185)is considered to be one where a lot of emphases was laid on the external beauty of a person. Beauty was considered as a good characteristic feature of a person and therefore, people made a lot of efforts towards improving their beauty. It is commonly believed that aristocrat Japanese citizens of this era powdered their faces and blackened their teeth in order to be considered desirable.

A point worth noting here is that external beauty was of paramount importance even a 1000 years ago!

The Paranormal Activity

After her husband slit her mouth, Kuchisake-onna supposedly covered her mouth with a scarf (a surgical mask in the present date) and roamed the dark lonely streets of Japan. On the way, she stopped children who were alone and asked them ‘Am I pretty’. If the child said ‘no’, she would kill him. An answer in affirmation would make her take off her scarf revealing her slit mouth, after which she would repeat her question. If the answer given by the child was no, she would kill him/her and if it was yes, she would slit his/her mouth in the same way as hers and disappear.

The Safety Hacks

Between the years 1603 and 1868 (Edo period), people reportedly found hacks in order to save themselves from the atrocities of Kuchisake-onna. Most of these hacks included confusing her with answers other than the traditional yes/no, or maybe even throwing some candies and fruits on her which would distract her, giving the victim enough time to escape. People could even escape from her by telling her that they have prior appointments and she would politely excuse them and go away.

A point worth noting here is that even though this woman was considered dangerous, she was portrayed to be naïve, and as someone, who could be fooled easily.  She was also considered to be someone with moral values as she would excuse a person and leave him/her unharmed just because he/she had prior appointments. This belief is conflicting because she had apparently cheated on her husband with another man!

Even though it has been more than a thousand years since it first appeared, the story of the slit-mouthed woman is still the most popular urban legend of Japan. So next time you are in Japan and a woman approaches you and asks you if she is pretty…….. RUN!

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