Due to having so much fun with the first Myths and Legends article I decided to once again delve into the abyss of japanese lore. Leaves are turning, weather is chilling, and it’s time to get scared again.
Gozu (Cow Head)
The first story mentioned here is not really a legend at all or that the legend itself is the story about the legend. The story goes that during the 17th century in Japan, people found a story called Gozu or “Cow Head”. Nothing is known about the story as apparently the story is too terrifying to tell, and any remnants of the story's destroyed and spread throughout the country.
Tales say that those whoever read the story began convulsing for days on end until eventually dying. Due to this no one knows what the story actually entails as nobody who has read it lived long enough to tell the story.
One recent story tells of an elementary school teacher who loved telling his students scary when on field trips. One day he told the kids that he was going to tell them the “Cow Head” story. The kids who were generally rambunctious became subdued with fright. As he began to tell the story he could only finish a sentence before the children and teacher began screaming and passing out. Two hours later, the teacher woke up and found the bus crashed into a ditch. The children and bus driver were all still passed out foaming from their mouths.
Jinmenken (Human Faced Dog)
Jinmenken or “Human Faced Dogs” are a legendary creature that's said to have the body of a dog and a face resembling that of a human. Supposedly Jinmenken are found at night in urban areas or rural highways running at a high-speed. Legends say that Jinmenken can talk but are supposedly very rude or will ask to be left alone. Like many other Japanese mythical creatures, Jinmenken are not known as malicious towards humans.
Many reports of Jinmenkens' may be linked to the Japanese Macaques, a japanese primate which accounts for the quadrupedal movement, dog-like fur, human face and the human-like noises the jinmenken can supposedly make.
Fatal Fare Taxi Driver
This urban legend only concerns taxi drivers so if you don’t drive a taxi you're safe. The story goes that a taxi driver driving at night along a road. A person will suddenly appear and hail the taxi over. The person will sit in the back of the car and tell the taxi driver to take them to a place they have never heard of.
When the driver explains this, the person will tell them that they will be given directions. As the taxi continues driving the directions continue to become more complicated as the directions take them away through towns and eventually into the mountains. As the taxi continues to get further and further away from where they came from, the taxi driver begins to get nervous. as the driver looks behind them to ask the passenger again where they are going, the person they picked up suddenly vanishes. As the driver turns back around they find themselves beginning to drive off a cliff.
Aka Manto (Red Cape)
What’s a japanese urban legend without taking place in one of the Japanese favorite haunting spots, the bathroom. Aka Manto is an urban legend about a vengeful spirit in the shape of a handsome masked man who haunts public or school toilets. Legend says the man will ask the victim if they would want a red colored paper or blue. If you answer red you will then be sliced apart until your clothes turn red. If you answer blue you'll be strangled until you turn blue.
If you try to outsmart Aka Manto and ask for another color of paper you will then be dragged into another dimension. The only way to successfully pass the test and save your life is to respond with “no paper”.
There are alternative versions to the tale in which Aka Manto will ask whether you want a red or blue cape. responding with red cape will result in the skin on your back being ripped off resembling a red cape. And responding with blue cape will result in all the blood being drained from your body.
Pale man (Tenome)
This legend deals with a blind man who was beaten and murdered by a mugger. The man returned as a ghost but his need for revenge was so strong that his blind eyes were gone, instead, growing eyes on the palms of his hands.
The pale man roams through towns and villages looking for the mugger who killed him by waving his hands in the air. But since the pale man's previous life he was blind, he never got to see the face of his attacker. Due to his blindness he will kill anyone he is able to get his hands on, while not blinded by sight the pale man's instead blinded by anger and revenge.
The character's seen in Guillermo Del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth as one of the main antagonists of the movie.