Who among us doesn’t love a good paranormal story? Tales of the strange and magical are what lift us from our roots in realism and feed our imaginations, suggesting to the child within us that there is more to life than what lies concretely before our eyes.
At least, that’s what some paranormal stories accomplish, in the most whimsical of senses. Other stories of the supernatural speak directly to the most fearful parts of our psyche, and they are told in part to make us glad of the concrete, boring parts of the world around us. Some of these stories are used as cautionary tales, others as sheer entertainment meant only to pass the time on a boring, realistic night. Either way, we hear these stories and emerge from them mostly glad that they’re just fictional conjurings.
At least, the rationalist in us would like to think that they are. There’s always a purveying region within the skull that seems to think that anything is possible, even those things that we were taught don’t belong in the real world. Real or not, these stories are there for us to feast our imaginations on. Hopefully just our imaginations… anyway, read some of the Asian variation below.
15. The Black Hair
A classic of Japanese lore, The Black Hair tells the tale of a samurai of impoverished background being summoned to a distant land in order to service a lord. He accepted the service call, and decided to abandon his wife of several years so he could take another woman along with him. When the samurai completed his mission, he returned to his hometown and found himself wishing deeply to be with his wife again. He visited their old house to find the front gate open, so he let himself in. There he found his wife sitting silently, alone. She welcomed the samurai back as if nothing had happened. Moved by her devotion and his love for her, the Samurai promised they would never be parted again, and that they would live a long life together. This seemed to make the wife extremely happy. They embraced for a long time, falling asleep in each other’s arms. When the samurai awoke, he found himself hugging a corpse, with nothing but dried flesh hanging to bone, the body wrapped in long black hair. The samurai ran to the neighbour’s house, asking what happened to the woman next door. The man informed him that the woman was abandoned by her husband a long time ago, and that her sorrow at being left by him brought about an illness that took her life. Since there was no one there for her to give her a funeral, her body remained in the house.
14. The Origin Of Garlic
This story, originating from the Philippines, concerns a mother who arranged for her daughter to be engaged to the son of one of the richest people in the region. The girl was impossibly beautiful, so beautiful that a rival suitor once murdered her fiancée, and that same suitor was then killed by the dead fiancée’s extremely loyal slave. With all the bloodshed that she was the center of, the beautiful girl ran up a sacred mountain and screamed up to the god Bathala (the creator of the universe in Tagalog theology) to remove her face of its beauty so no more harm can come from her. Bathala obliged, a little more so than the girl expected, and struck her dead with a lightning bolt. The mother, heartbroken, retrieved her body and buried her, watering the grave with her tears. Shortly after, the mother saw some small plants sprouting from the soil atop the grave. When she pulled them out, she discovered seeds that looked exactly like her dead daughter’s teeth. Bathala’s voice rang from the heavens, telling the woman that these were indeed her daughter’s teeth, and the woman was thankful for having something to remember her daughter by. She planted the seeds all over the region to keep her daughter’s memory alive, and each of the seeds sprouted lovely cloves of garlic.
13. Spiral In The Chinese Sky
More of a modern take on supernaturalism, this event occurred on July 24, 1981, and was observed by a multitude of people in southwest and northwest China along with a large proportion of people in southern and south-central China. It was a gorgeously starry night, but one star seemed to shine brighter than the others. It soon became clear that this was not a star, as it grew brighter and larger by the second, oscillating steadily and soon manifesting itself into a giant, bright spiral shape in the sky. The mysterious thing up above traveled at a speed of around 1.6 km/second across the sky for 6 to 7 minutes before it disappeared completely. The phenomenon was by no means an undetected one — a reported 10,000,000 witnesses saw the object before it disappeared. The shape has since been seen multiple times around the world, and no one has come up with a detailed, satisfying explanation for it.
12. The Ghost of Oyuki
This is the story behind the most famous ghost painting in Japanese history. The painting shows a young, beautiful woman, drained of all colour and vibrancy, with a white burial kimono. Her thin, black eyes contrast sharply with her pale appearance, as does her long black hair that falls wildly around her shoulders. The woman has no feet. As the story goes, this is what was seen by the painter of the image, Maruyama Ōkyo. According to a note left by a prior owner of the painting, Ōkyo had a mistress named Oyuki, who also worked as a geisha, and had died young of undocumented causes. Ōkyo was deeply attached to his mistress, and spent a lot of time mourning her passing. One night, Oyuki appeared at the foot of the young artist’s bed, hovered there for a moment, and disappeared completely. Ōkyo jumped right out of bed and painted the picture exactly as he had just seen it. In his day, Maruyama Ōkyo was known as a pure naturalist painter, which meant that he only painted tangible things he saw with his own two eyes. Because of his reputation, when he revealed the painting to the people of Japan, no one doubted that this was what an actual ghost looks like, and the country has retained the image ever since.
11. The Fairy Princess of Mount Ophir
Set in Malaysia, this story revolves around an impossibly beautiful fairy princess who lived up on the mountains, and who swore never to take a husband. Of course, as word spread of her oath, the fairy attracted the attention of a multitude of powerful men who craved her hand in marriage. One such man was the Raja of Melaka, who sent his finest warriors over to the mountain to give the fairy princess news of his proposal. There, they encountered an extremely old woman who informed the man that, if the Raja really desired the fairy’s hand in marriage, Raja would need to build her two bridges, one made of gold and one of silver. In addition to that, she would need an assortment of offerings: seven trays of mite hearts and seven of mosquito hearts, seven barrels of beetlenut juice from dried Areca nuts, seven barrels filled to the brim with the tears of virgin maidens and, finally, a bowl containing the blood of the Raja’s son. The Raja consented to meeting each of the fairy’s demands except for the bowl filled with his son’s blood. So the fairy princess ran off deep into the mountain, where she continues to live to this day.
10. The Vengeful Ghosts of the Heike Clan
This one is set in Japan, in the year 1185. Minamoto no Yoshitsune is on a boat, fleeing his brother Minamoto no Yorimoto, who recently took power from the Heike clan and declared himself Shogun. Knowing that his brother would see him as a potential rival to the title, Yoshitsune exiled himself from the capital willingly, as soon as he saw the chance, hoping to calm his brother’s fears. Despite the violent conditions of the sea, Yoshitsune and his crew mounted a ship heading for the Yoshino mountains, knowing they didn’t have a moment to waste. The situation grew daunting very quickly when a thick fog appeared out of nowhere which enveloped the ship completely, cutting off all light. Enclosed in the mist, the ship was rocked back and forth by strong, seemingly willful waves. As the crew looked over the ship and into the water, they saw the dead white bodies of the Heike clan, ready to swarm the ship. Yoshitsune and his crew were ready to fight the zombie samurai to the death, but there was a warrior-monk on board named Musashibo Benkei, who knew that these monsters would never be physically overcome by the crew. As the violence unfolded around him, Benkei knelt down and chanted in devoted prayer to the gods, calling on five directions—the deities of the North, South, East, West, and the enigmatic fifth, unknowable direction. His faith was so strong that the waves and the mist actually disappeared without a trace, and the ghosts of the Heike vanished along with them.
9. The Yurei Of The Blind Female Musician
Set in the Kyoho era (1716-1736) this is a classic Japanese ghost story that also serves as a reminder that there are consequences when one behaves like a total d**k. A samurai named Hotsumi Kanji stopped by an inn on his way to Edo, a trip he made annually. From his room he heard an impossibly beautiful singing voice coming from somewhere in the inn. The voice belonged to a goze, meaning a blind woman who travels the country singing songs while playing the shamisen. In Hotsumi’s mind, a woman with such a beautiful voice must have just as beautiful physical characteristics. He located which room in the inn was hers, and hid there until she returned. When she did, Hotsumi came at her from the shadows of her room and took her without even asking, which the goze strangely did not oppose to. When they awoke the next morning, Hotsumi discovered that the woman was actually unspeakably ugly, and the smile that was on her face as she looked at him indicated that she believed that she finally found love. Hotsumi devised a plan: he took the woman with him on his way to Edo and pushed her to her death off a high mountain pass into a ravine. The following year, when it came time again for the samurai’s trip to Edo, he stopped to spend the night at a mountain temple. The ghost of the goze appeared to him that night and said, “Have you already forgotten last Autumn? You played with me, and then tossed me away when you were finished. I have no eyes, but I see you now!” She dragged him with ghostly strength down a hall, into the temple’s graveyard and before one particular grave. Looking at him with a small smile, the goze embraced Hotsumi and dove with him into the Earth. Upon hearing the commotion, the temple’s monks searched the graveyard, followed the trail to the grave and dug out the Earth. There they found Hotsumi’s body, with the goze’s skeletal corpse wrapped around it. For whatever reason, be it destiny or random chance, Hotsumi had picked the one temple where the goze’s body was buried after it was found. He came back to her, so she claimed him.
8. The Ap
This horrific ghost story is a widespread superstition in Cambodia as well as Thailand. It’s of particular concern to young women, especially those who are pregnant. There are many versions of the tale, but most of them revolve around a young woman walking the streets alone at night when she is suddenly confronted by the horrific floating head of a beautiful woman, whose entrails are clearly showing beneath her head. This disembodied head is said to feed on blood and fetuses, and finds the innards of pregnant women to be a particular delicacy. The origins of the myth are a mystery; some say that this ghostly state was punishment for women who took the practice of black magic too far. Either way, if you’re walking the streets at night and you run into an Ap (or, as it’s known in Thailand, a Krasue), we suggest you run the other way as fast as you can.
7. Shagging An Alien
Another modern paranormal case, this one concerns Meng Zhaoguo, a relatively uneducated Chinese working man with little imagination. His background as such is what makes the case so interesting. Apparently Meng was sleeping one night when he awoke suddenly to find quite the unusual site in his bedroom: an alien woman, about 10 ft tall, who looked pretty much like a human aside from her great height, six fingers and fur-covered legs. Encasing them in some kind of force field, the alien woman seduced Meng into having a crazy 40-minute long intercourse session with her, all while levitating above the bed where Meng’s wife was sound asleep. A month after the incident, Meng was apparently pulled right through a wall to visit the alien ship, where he was informed that his alien son would be born 60 years from then. Having reportedly never heard of aliens or UFOs, Meng passed a lie detector test with flying colours, and his story is one of the most well-known UFO cases in all of China. Meng isn’t one to appreciate the attention, and would frankly prefer it if everyone would stop bothering him about it.
6. The Breast Ghost Of Malaysia
The story of Hantu Tenek, the Malaysian breast ghost, is used as a traditional cautionary tale to young boys. Whether effective or not, the story has been passed down through generations. As the original goes, a young boy is alone on the streets at night when he runs into a woman with impossibly large breasts that appear to be sprouting from her back. The woman approaches him, and the boy (just going into puberty) stares at her in elated awe. As she gets closer, the breasts on her back expand to even greater volume, enveloping the boy completely. Despite that happy flash of a moment, the boy is never seen again. Mothers in Malaysia tell their pre-pubescent sons this story so they would learn how dangerous it is to go out at night, but we think it’s safe to assume that, boys being boys, the tale would have an effect opposite to the one intended.
5. The Curse Of The Red Room
This horrifying piece of black magic has somehow made its way onto the internet. How is a curse spread in modern times? Through a pop-up, of course. This particular pop-up is known as The Red Room, and you should pray to whatever deity you pray to that you’ll never run into it. Immune from all pop-up blockers, The Red Room is a sure sign of your imminent death. It appears as a red window with Japanese lettering that translate to, “Do you like … ?” An adorable, malicious voice reads the words aloud as they appear. As you try to exit the window or take any action to make it disappear, more letters appear on the screen. Eventually the final message will be clear: “Do you like The Red Room?” Then your computer screen will take on a deep red tone, and the names of the pop-up’s past victims flood the screen. What follows after is an imminent suicide, but not before the victim manages to paint the room red with their own blood.
4. The Ghost Of Ancol Bridge
This story is about the ghost of Maryam, a little girl whose ghost apparently haunts the Ancol Bridge of Jakarta, Indonesia, and who is said to be the cause of the abnormal volume of traffic accidents near the bridge. Myriam’s unfortunate tale occurred in the early 1800s. At 16 years old, Maryam was so overwhelmingly beautiful that she captured the heart of the rich old man she served. Not wanting to be bound in love to the old man, Myriam ran away, where she ran into yet another rich old man who also fell in love with her beauty. After rejecting the old man’s advances, he and his thugs went after her, and Maryam was tragically r***d before she was murdered. Her body was then abandoned in a rice field.
3. The Great Kingdom Of Ashendon
This truly bizarre ancient Chinese tale revolves around an army officer named Chunyu Fen, who drank himself to sleep under a tree after he was dismissed by his general. He woke up in the presence of two messengers from the kingdom of “Ashendon,” who had an official invitation for Chunyu by the king of Ashendon himself. Chunyu obliged the messengers and went with them to Ashendon, where he was greeted with a royal feast, was entertained by fairies and nymphs and learned that the king wished for him to marry one of his daughters. He did, and that was the start of his happy life in Ashendon. Chunyu had 5 sons and 2 daughters with this wife whom he loved dearly, and worked as governor of a state called Nanke. Years and years passed, during which time Chunyu’s wife died and the king suspected him of treason and sent him back where he came from. When he arrives back home, Chunyu wakes up several years into the past, on the same day that he fell asleep under the tree. A whole generation had passed in a single dream.
2. The Hello Kitty Murder
This horrific murder occurred in 1999, in Hong Kong. A 23-year-old nightclub hostess named Fan Man-yee was kidnapped by three men and was held captive for one horrifying month, where she was brutally tortured every day until she died. Her body was then cut up into pieces and disposed of along with the trash, except for her head. Her disembodied head was sewn into a huge Hello Kitty doll. Some time passed with no repercussions for the murderers, until one of their (13-year-old) girlfriends went to the police with the story that she was being haunted by the ghost of one of her boyfriend’s victims. Not wanting to deal with the whinings of a teenage girl longer than necessary, the police searched the house and eventually arrested the three men for murder. In the months that followed, security cameras of nearby buildings caught footage of a strange woman lurking in the shadows. Due to the haunting, which included ghostly flames and eerie sounds, all the tenants abandoned the building, and its owner was eventually forced to have it demolished.
1. Tomino’s Hell
This urban legend is about a poem called “Tomino’s Hell” which is found in the book “The Heart is Like a Rolling Stone” by Yokota Inuhiko. As the legend goes, anyone who reads the poem aloud will be inevitably cursed to suffer just like the character Tomino. Depending on who you ask, that suffering will involve anything from a terrible accident to certain death. The poem, apparently, is an incredibly gory read, detailing some truly horrifying imagery. Some who have read the poem aloud claim that no sort of ill luck followed; others, however, have claimed quite differently. We, personally, have not dared to read the poem, and for the benefit of our readers’ bodies and souls, we have not decided to include it here. The internet is there for you if you want to check it out yourself, but we would highly advise that you don’t tempt fate if you can avoid it, lest you meet the same end as Tomino.