Kuchisake Onna

Am I pretty?

This is the first of a series I’m planning on Japanese ghosts and spirits. As someone who majored in Japanese/East Asian Studies in university (and is currently living in Japan), I’ve always had a fascination with Japanese myths and folk tales, which have an eclectic mix of silly, strange, and downright scary creatures.

So, first up is this wonderfully creepy lady known as Kuchisake-Onna, who is based on a Japanese urban legend. Around the 70s-80s, rumors about a beautiful woman started to spread. The story is that she would wear flu mask and approach random people, asking, “Am I pretty?” If they said no, she’d kill them. If they said yes, she’d pull the mask down, showing that her mouth was slit from ear to ear. She’d ask again if they still thought she was pretty. This time, if they said yes, she’d cut their mouth open to look like hers. If they said no, she’d, you guessed it, kill them.

This urban legend was so widely believed, there are even reports of teachers not allowing students to walk home without an escort so they wouldn’t be caught by her.

The graffiti on the wall says, “Am I pretty?” in Japanese.

This is the first of a series of many that I’m planning. What do you think is next?

26 colors + transparency.