Asian Urban Legends: The Creepy Tales of Our Nightmares

Urban legends are everywhere, no matter where you live there will always be stories of ghosts and local legends that will chill you to your core. But some of the scariest lores I have heard of come from Asia, and similarly to Asian horror films such as Audition and the original Ringu, they are scary as Hell. So join me as a share with you three of the weirdest and disturbing Asian urban legends out there...


1) Daruma-san (The Bath Game)

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Have you ever thought to yourself "If only I could turn a relaxing bath experience into a horrific game of cat and mouse where I could die"? Well fear not as Daruma-san can help you. Here's how you play it out: 

The Prelude: You will need to take a bath just before you go to bed (a shower won't work, apparently) and once the bath is full, turn out all the lights and sit in the bath facing the taps. Then close your eyes and start to wash your hair, and as you are doing this repeat the words "Daruma-San fell down, Daruma-San fell down," but keep those eyes closed tight.  Now if you have done this correctly you will get a mental image of a Japanese woman standing in a bathtub, who will then slip and fall and gouge out her right eye on a rusty tap. If at any point you hear noises or feel movement in the bathtub DO NOT open your eyes, but ask aloud "Why did you fall in the bath tub?" Then keeping your eyes closed, stand up and get out of the bath (health and safety disclaimer: be careful when you do this as you want to be chased by a spirit, not smash your head open). Leave the water in the bath and leave all the lights off and exit the bathroom. After you have closed the door you can open your eyes, and go to bed (if you can sleep after seeing a woman gouge her eye out with a tap).

The Game Begins:   As you wake up from your sleep, it's time for the fun to begin. Throughout the day you will get a feeling that someone is following you, an uneasy feeling that will make you turn around and check, only to reveal nobody there. You may, however, catch a glimpse of her over your right shoulder if you are lucky. She will have black, tangled hair and of course be missing her right eye, and she will attempt to get closer to you throughout the day, slowly pursuing you. She is fond of water and dark places and if you find that she is too close for comfort, and you do manage to get a glimpse of her, you need to take action quickly. You will need to shout "Tomare!" which means stop and run to put some distance between you and her. Be careful though, as each time you use this it will only stall her, and each time it's used the time she is stalled for will diminish.

Ending the Game: After you get tired of being stalked by a one-eyed spirit that you summoned while washing your hair in the dark, you will need to take these steps before midnight—because failing to do this will invite her into your dreams, and you really don't want that! You need to have her in your sight over your right shoulder, but if she suspects you are about to end the game she will hide, so be ready to act quickly. While you have her in your gaze, shout "Kitta!" which means "I cut you loose!" while swinging your arm down in a cutting motion. If this is performed correctly you will have won and the game will be over. If you didn't perform it correctly then RUN.

If you decide to play it again be warned, she will start the new game exactly where she finished the first one, so it's not really advisable to do this.

2) Kuchisake-Onna (The Slit Mouthed Woman)

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Now this urban legend is a tale of how vanity, infidelity, and taking revenge are all wrong—though it did lead to an awesome ghost story. The original story comes from the Heian period of Japanese history, around 1200-800 years ago and was originally a cautionary tale. A beautiful woman was a wife (or concubine, depending on who tells it) of a Samurai, and legend has it she was extremely vain. She cheated on her husband and the Samurai took revenge by slitting her mouth with his sword and declared "Who will find you beautiful now?"

So legend has it that she walks the streets wearing a surgeon's mask, like many others in Japan, and will approach her victim of choice. Once she approaches them she will ask "Do you think I am beautiful?" (translation: Watashi Kirei?)

Depending on how polite (and socially awkward) you are, this can result in two different outcomes:

A) You look at her and say "no" (a very brave move saying this to anyone who asks) and she will kill you with a pair of scissors (though you kind of asked for it being that rude).

B) If you politely say "yes, of course", she will then remove her mask, revealing horrific facial scars and ask again "Watashi Kirei?" Now this is where it gets complicated, as you will probably be in shock at seeing her face you might slip up and say "Oh, sweet Jesus, no!" and she will then kill you. However, if you say "yes you are" and think she will let you go for being so nice, you are wrong. She will simply slash your face so you look like her.

Apparently there is a way to escape from her by saying you are late for an appointment, and she will apologise for delaying you and let you go on your way. Keep that in mind if any women wearing masks approach you and ask you to comment on their beauty—it's easier to stick to Hot or Not (is that still a thing or am I just old as shit?). 

3) The Cursed Kleenex Commercial

No this is not a joke and no, the video isn't some sort of weird porno, but apparently in the 80s Kleenex released a "dreamy, fairy tale commercial" which was designed to be cheery. What they actually got was some sort of weird acid trip, which rumour has it caused everyone involved an unfortunate fate.

The actress in the commercial, Keiko Matsuzaka, allegedly became pregnant with a demon child and was institutionalized after suffering a mental breakdown. The boy who played the red demon in the commercial apparently died in mysterious circumstances shortly after filming had finished. There are also stories of the entire production crew either becoming ill or suffering terrible accidents, however none of these claims can be substantiated.

Even the soundtrack to the commercial is rumored to have a touch of the weird to it. Some people claimed that the lyrics were a German curse, while others said the voice changed depending on what time of day you saw it. If it was on in the day you would hear the singer's angelic voice, but if you were to hear it at night the voice would change to that of a old woman and misfortune would be heading your way.  

4) The Sweet Girl of Ancol Bridge

This urban legend is a tragic tale of a maid in the 1800s whose beauty was to be the cause of her demise. Maryam was a 16-year-old maid to a wealthy merchant who was infatuated with her beauty and decided that he would make her his concubine. Maryam was not happy with this and ran away, and while she was wandering around she came across another merchant who was just as obsessed with her looks. Angered that Maryam rejected him, he gathered a gang of thugs and proceeded to track her down and rape and murder her, then dumped her body in a nearby rice field.

Legend has it that her ghost wanders along the Ancol Bridge in Jakarta Indonesia, and locals believe that this is the reason there are so many accidents involving male drivers on the bridge. Does her beauty still distract the passing men, or does she take her revenge for her untimely death? I don't think I will take a drive to find out anytime soon.

5) Maria Lobo

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My final urban legend is the story about a young woman who had two young children and was married to a policeman. For extra money she took a job as a carer for an elderly man, who just so happened to be an Aswang who wanted to die—but as they cannot die until the curse is passed on to someone else, he decided to pass his curse onto Maria secretly. However the curse did not start to manifest itself until after she returned from working in Canada (see, even Aswangs are more chilled out in Canada eh?) and her desire for human flesh became too much to bear.

One night her husband returned from work to find the house eerily quiet, and went into the kitchen where his wife was preparing dinner. He asked about the whereabouts of the children and Maria simply pointed to a big pot simmering on the cooker. To his horror, he removed the lid and saw his children chopped and seasoned to be made into a broth. Filled with rage, her husband grabbed a knife and sliced at her face, wounding her as she ran off into the night. Legend has it Maria still moves around from town to town, worried people will find out she is an Aswang, but still needing to get her fix of human flesh.


Those are just five of the weird urban legends that are floating around out there hailing from Asia. Do you believe in any of them, or are they all just tall tales?  Are you brave enough to try the bath game? Let me know in the comments and don't forget to share and tell your friends.