7 Japanese Horror Stories to Learn Japanese

Japanese horror stories, deeply rooted in folklore and Japanese urban legends, have captivated audiences worldwide with their eerie and unsettling narratives.

Renowned for their ability to evoke fear through supernatural entities, vengeful spirits, and cautionary tales, Japanese horror stories have become a global fascination.

In this guide, we delve into the realm of Japanese horror, selecting seven spine-chilling tales that not only offer a terrifying experience but also serve as intriguing content for language learners.

Get ready to embrace the ghostly side of Japanese culture and embark on a language-learning journey through these hair-raising stories.

Table of Contents

  • Where to Watch Japanese Ghost Stories
  • Ghost Stories For Kids
  • 1. Slit-Mouthed Woman (Kuchisake-onna)
  • 2. Snow Woman (Yuki Onna)
  • 3. Red Room (Aka Manto)
  • 4. Hanako-san
  • 5. Tomino's Hell (Tomino no Jigoku)
  • 6. Oiwa
  • 7. The Third Stall
  • Japanese Ghosts and Folklore
  • FAQs
  • Summing up

Where to Watch Japanese Ghost Stories


For an immersive dive into the chilling realm of Japanese ghost stories, streaming platforms like Lingopie, Amazon, and HBO offer a curated selection.

Lingopie, known for its language learning content, intertwines the spine-tingling narratives with educational value.

Explore the eerie landscapes of Japanese horror on these platforms, discovering tales that involve red or blue paper, scary stories, and the haunting presence of strange women.

Additionally, delve into popular horror books such as "Kwaidan" by Lafcadio Hearn and "The Ring" by Koji Suzuki, with audiobook versions available on platforms like Audible, letting the spine-tingling stories come to life through narration.


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Ghost Stories For Kids

Japan, steeped in rich folklore, has a unique tradition of ghost stories crafted specifically for kids. Two popular tales include "Momo Taro," featuring a boy born from a peach, and "Tengu no Kakuremino," portraying a mischievous creature with a hidden robe.

These stories serve a dual purpose in Japanese culture, imparting moral lessons while instilling a sense of respect for the supernatural.

Such narratives are interwoven with cultural values, and when you’re learning a language, this is a great way to gain an understanding of ethics and societal norms.

1. Slit-Mouthed Woman (Kuchisake-onna):

Synopsis: In the urban legend of Kuchisake-onna, a woman with a surgical mask and a grotesque slit mouth terrorizes unsuspecting individuals. Her chilling question, "Am I pretty?" is followed by potential encounters with a vengeful spirit seeking revenge for a terrible fate. Legend has it that the woman, disfigured by her husband in a fit of jealousy, now roams, haunting those she encounters.

Popularity: This urban legend has many variations, instilling fear through the potential encounter with a vengeful spirit seeking revenge for a terrible fate.

Where to Watch: Lingopie, Netflix, and Amazon offer various adaptations and films exploring the horror of the slit-mouthed woman.

Fun Fact: Variations of the Kuchisake-onna legend include her offering candy to potential victims. Those who refuse are met with a grisly fate, while those who accept find their candy turning into a dismembered hand. This adds a macabre twist to an already chilling tale.

2. Snow Woman (Yuki Onna):

Synopsis: In the ghostly narrative of Yuki Onna, a beautiful woman with icy powers emerges on snow-covered mountains. This Japanese folklore tale often portrays her as both a harbinger of danger and, paradoxically, a savior for those she encounters in the snowy wilderness.

Popularity: The legend of the Yuki Onna is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, portraying the contrast between the captivating allure and deadly nature of the snowwoman.

Where to Watch: Explore different cinematic interpretations on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon.

Fun Fact: Yuki Onna's icy breath is central to her character. In some versions, breathing on individuals can freeze them instantly. This embodiment of nature's beauty and danger brings an enchanting yet perilous aspect to the folklore.

3. Red Room (Aka Manto):

Synopsis: Aka Manto introduces a supernatural entity that haunts internet users, luring them into a mysterious red room. The choices made within the room lead to gruesome and fatal consequences, creating a cautionary tale that underscores the dangers of the internet.

Popularity: A cautionary tale warning against the dangers of the internet, Aka Manto taps into modern fears and technological paranoia.

Where to Watch: Find various adaptations and references on platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and horror-specific streaming services.

Fun Fact: Aka Manto's name translates to "Red Cape." The entity's appearance in a vibrant red cape, offering choices that lead to doom, symbolizes the seductive allure of danger, tying into the cautionary theme of the tale.

4. Hanako-san:

Synopsis: Hanako-san, an iconic urban legend, haunts the third stall of school bathrooms. The tale suggests that summoning her might lead to a ghostly encounter with this enigmatic and eerie little girl.

Popularity: Hanako-san is a classic ghost story often shared among schoolchildren, representing the fear embedded in everyday spaces.

Where to Watch: Look for films, anime, or TV shows featuring Hanako-san on platforms like Crunchyroll, Netflix, or Amazon.

Fun Fact: Hanako-san's story has evolved with modern urban legends. Some versions suggest she was a victim of World War II bombings, adding historical layers to the ghostly narrative and connecting it to Japan's wartime history. This is definitely something you should learn about if you are already learning Japanese.

5. Tomino's Hell (Tomino no Jigoku):

Synopsis: Tomino's Hell unfolds as a cursed poem that, when recited aloud, is believed to bring misfortune, tragedy, and even death to the reader. The verses delve into the dark and supernatural realms, evoking a sense of impending doom.

Popularity: Tomino's Hell has gained notoriety due to its association with an alleged curse, making it a chilling piece of Japanese folklore.

Where to Watch: Explore various interpretations of this cursed poem in short films and animations available on YouTube and other popular streaming services. In some countries this is available on Netflix. When this is the case, you will also be able to access Tomino’s Hell via the Netflix Chrome extension.

Fun Fact: Tomino's Hell has a real-world connection. It originated from a poem written by Yomota Inuhiko, a contemporary Japanese poet. The eerie verses and alleged curse contribute to the poem's mystique and popularity.

6. Oiwa:

Synopsis: Oiwa recounts the tragic tale of a woman who faces betrayal, disfigurement, and a relentless thirst for revenge in Edo-period Japan. The narrative explores themes of love, betrayal, and vengeful spirits seeking retribution.

Popularity: Oiwa's story is a classic kabuki play that has inspired numerous adaptations, emphasizing the themes of betrayal and vengeful spirits.

Where to Watch: Discover Oiwa's haunting narrative in kabuki performances, films, or TV dramas on cultural streaming platforms.

Fun Fact: Oiwa's tragic tale has inspired various art forms, including the famous kabuki play "Yotsuya Kaidan." The character's disfigured face, often depicted with flowing black hair, has become an iconic image in Japanese horror culture.

7. The Third Stall:

Synopsis: Set in a temple, The Third Stall is a ghost story where the public restroom's third stall holds a terrifying secret involving a vengeful spirit seeking justice. The narrative explores themes of justice, unfinished business, and the thin veil between the spirit world and the living.

Popularity: With many variations, this story explores themes of justice, unfinished business, and the thin veil between the spirit world and the living.

Where to Watch: Seek out adaptations of The Third Stall in films, short films, or TV shows on horror-centric streaming platforms.

Fun Fact: Variations of The Third Stall legend include the spirit demanding a specific item for justice. This could range from coins to personal possessions, emphasizing the theme of unresolved matters and the need for restitution in the afterlife.

Japanese Ghosts and Folklore

Japanese ghost folklore is rich with intriguing tales. In contrast to Bloody Mary, Japan has its own eerie mirror legend called "Hanako-san."

Instead of a young man, the country is haunted by the "Kuchisake-onna," a slit-mouthed woman who asks if she's pretty.

The legend of "Oiwa" tells of a wronged woman seeking revenge, offering a tragic twist akin to a strange woman's tale.

These stories reflect Japan's fascination with supernatural entities, adding layers of mystery to their ghostly folklore, where spectral encounters and hair-raising narratives abound, creating a tapestry of chilling tales and intriguing cultural nuances.


Scared yet? We can relax now. Below, you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions relating to Japanese horror stories.

What are Japanese horror stories called?

Japanese horror stories are often referred to as "kaidan" or "kwaidan," encompassing a range of supernatural narratives.

What is the most famous Japanese ghost?

The most famous Japanese ghost is the "Kuchisake-onna" or slit-mouthed woman, known for her haunting appearance and chilling question: "Am I pretty?"

What is the scariest demon in Japanese folklore?

The scariest demon in Japanese folklore is often considered the "Oni," a malevolent ogre-like creature known for causing harm.

Popular Japanese urban legends include "Hanako-san" haunting school bathrooms and the cautionary tale of "Aka Manto" in public restrooms.

What is the scary monster from Japan?

The scary monster from Japan spans various entities, such as the eerie "Kawa-no-kami" or river deity and the vengeful spirit known as "

Summing up: Japanese Horror Stories

As you can see, there is no shortage of Japanese horror stories available to you on Netflix, Lingopie, and other language-learning platforms.

Exploring Japanese horror stories on a language-learning platform like Lingopie not only adds an element of cultural understanding but also aids in honing language skills.

The auditory and visual aspects of these tales provide a unique avenue for language acquisition, making it an engaging and effective supplement to traditional learning methods.

So, dive into the eerie world of Japanese horror, not just for the spine-chilling tales, but also as an effective way to improve your listening and reading skills in the Japanese language.

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