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    PCR #501  (Vol. 10, No. 44)  This edition is for the week of October 26--November 1, 2009.

"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant"  by Mike Smith
 by Terence Nuzum
Welcome Back to the Grindhouse  by ED Tucker
J-Horror: Special Halloween Edition  by Jason Fetters
The Top 30 Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Actresses, #20-17  by Lisa Scherer
After 2 Series, Freeman Starts .... Favre Returns To Lambeau .... Gay Culverhouse Talks To Congress .... Florida Tuskers Can Take ’em .... .... .... .... by Chris Munger
A Capitol Trip .... Get Well Soon .... Movie Notes .... Halloween Movie Notes .... Jolson's Coming? .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 by Mike Smith
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Japan: Land of the Rising Spirits

When I was an English teacher in Osaka, Japan, Halloween was approaching and, just for fun, I asked my students to tell stories of local superstitions, myths, and legends. I got a lot of good anecdotes concerning individual scary stories.

A junior high school boy, told me the legend of Hanako, which is comparable to Bloody Mary. Hanako was a young elementary schoolgirl who went to the bathroom and entered the third stall and never came back. She is said to haunt the bathrooms of elementary schools all over Japan. When you enter the third stall in the girls’ bathroom, a male ghost asks you if you prefer blue or red toilet paper. If you answer red, the ghost kills you by repeatedly slashing your back and neck. For blue you are killed by hanging. There is an alternate version with a female ghost who asks you where her legs are. Depending on how you answer determines if you live. I decided to ask my other elementary and junior high students and everyone had a Hanako story to tell. Several students avoid the third stall at all costs in both boys and girls bathrooms. There have been a couple of movies about Hanako.

Also in the elementary schools, children have been known to see dead Japanese soldiers walking the halls in World War II uniforms.

Another urban legend has to do with Mount Fuji, a world famous tourist attraction, and the forest of Aokigahara. Near Mount Fuji is Aokigahara, a forest infamous for suicides. I was told by a student to be careful entering the forest by tying a rope around my waist and the other end around a tree. Over 78 bodies of suicides have been discovered inside. The Japanese are scared of areas where a suicide or a murder has occurred. You can rent a apartment or buy a house cheap if a recent death happened because the locals don’t want anything to do with the place. That is how a lot of Americans get cheaper accommodations living in Japan.

The Yurei, Japanese ghost, are said to haunt the area. Forest workers are known to take precautious entering Aokigahara for regular maintenance.

If you travel to Shikoku take care because it’s called the Land of the Dead. The Chinese character used to write Shi is the same character that means dead. Koku uses the character for land. Shikoku has 88 temples and many Japanese take a special vacation just to see each one. According to legend, and also based on the movie Shikoku, if you see the temples in the reverse order the dead are suppose to appear and take over the whole area.

Finally, another student told me of Fushimi Inari-taisha, a shrine in Kyoto. The shrine has many fox statues because the spirit of the fox is believed to watch over it. The student told me to be careful and that if I saw the fox spirit, I would probably die.

A funny thing happened. After hearing that story, around Bon Season (when the dead are believed to return back to earth), I took a friend with me to see Fushimi Inari-taisha.

My friend and I arrived around midnight and it was quiet and eerie. The fox statues seemed to watch you like eyes in an old painting. We walked under several bright red Torii, the archway with two poles on either side and a support beam across the top. Walking along, the ground rises because the shrine is built on a mountain. My friend noticed something strange. He walked over to a water bucket and a lizard was trapped inside drowning. My friend took the lizard out and released him in the woods to the side.

I was looking forward to seeing the top. Just before getting to the top, my friend freaked out on me. He took off running. I had no choice but to follow him.

I caught up with him and asked him what was wrong.

He took me that “something evil is here and we shouldn’t be here this late at night. We have to hurry and exit the shrine.”

He continued telling me about something bad being around and that he could sense that whatever it was didn’t want us on this mountain. So we both ran down the mountain and my heart was racing and all I wanted to do was clear the red torii overhead.

We managed to exit the shrine area without seeing any fox spirits. I felt relief after walking away from the shrine. I can’t really describe it but it’s a feeling in your stomach and throughout your whole body that some presence doesn’t want you around. A little like when you pass a stray dog that snarls and bites. However, whatever that was, it was invisible and that made it a lot worse.

I asked my friend about how he picked up on it and he told me that he has psychic abilities. He had a strong urge to get out of the area because a voice inside his head told him not to stay here any longer. I always wondered what would happen if I ignored my friend, and walked to the top myself? I didn’t believe my friend at first, then I felt strange after he said something. Maybe the spirit wanted me to disbelieve.

The next day during my English class I told my student about it and he told me that I was lucky not to see the fox. I would be dead if I had.

If you ever consider going to Japan, be sure to check out some of the supernatural areas.

Happy Halloween!!

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2009 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.