Summer in Japan is traditionally viewed as a time when ancestral spirits come back to Earth, Japan haunted.
In August millions of Japanese return to their home towns for the Obon season, where relatives gather to welcome back the spirits.
Obon frequently involves fireworks and dancing, and is traditionally a cheerful period.
But it’s also a time to tell ghost stories Japan haunted, and dozens of haunted houses have been opening up across Japan to mark the season.
One such Japan haunted house called “The Cursed Tooth” at Tokyo Dome tells the story of a woman who is driven into madness after she sacrificed her pearly white teeth for her child, and is now condemned to pull them out one-by-one.
“Goosebumps can be very refreshing,” claims Sayaka Makabe, a schoolgirl who came to visit “The Cursed Tooth”. Indeed, many Japanese view a shiver down the spine as a way to keep cool during the heat of summer.
Visitors to “The Cursed Tooth” must pluck one black tooth from her mouth and take it to the exit so that she can rest in peace. Her screams echo through the building, and an outside loudspeaker broadcasts the public’s screams to those lining up to get in.
Back inside, three terrified children cling to their father as they stand next to a woman with a knife in her throat, surrounded by pools of blood.
The father admits he was more scared than he lets on. He also says he used to visit haunted houses when he was a kid.
Hirofumi Gomi, the creator of “The Cursed Tooth” as well as dozens of other haunted houses around Japan, said “The dead come back to the human world in August. This is a period in which all kinds of terrifying things are supposed to happen.”
The Obon tradition is traced back to the Edo period (1603-1868), when kabuki theaters were packed with people in August to see ghost stories. And the Obon religious ceremonies are based on the belief that the spirits spend a few days on Earth every August.
Japan haunted “I have always practised this tradition because I think my parents really come back, I sometimes feel their presence with me,” said Yumiko Tominaga, who came to a cemetery with her husband to sweep the graves of his ancestors.
“When I die, if I go back to Earth, I will certainly be happy if my children greet me the same way.” Image/AFP