Urban Legend of the Slit-Mouthed Woman

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Urban Legend of the Slit-Mouthed Woman
Nidhi P. ('23)

A terrifying Japanese urban legend

   With Halloween approaching, be sure to watch out for the ghost of the Slit-Mouthed Woman, more commonly known as Kuchisake-onna. This popular and ancient urban legend originates in Japan, during the Heian period (roughly 1200-800 years ago). Japan is known for its number of frightening ghost stories, with this one in particular being beyond chilling.


        The legend commences with a stunning woman, who was married to a samurai. But beware, looks can be deceiving—she was very vain and one day, went as far as cheating on her Samurai husband. When he found out about the affair, he grew very enraged and slit her mouth from ear to ear, giving her a Glasgow smile (which is a smile caused by wounds cutting from ear to ear). Following this savage action, he asked, “Who will think you’re pretty now?” Although the original tale is a cautionary one to remind people to stay faithful, the story takes a gruesome turn.


       In 2007, a coroner found records of similar shocking cases during the time of day that the story takes place, the nighttime. The records showed that many children had died at night, rumouring sightings of a woman with similar features were at the time and place of their deaths, giving a frightful realistic twist to the legend.


       This apparent phenomenon can be explained:a woman wearing a surgical mask or mask of some sort who would approach people (usually children) at night and ask them, “Am I pretty?” If they said no, she would slash their faces with a pair of scissors, giving them a similar Glasgow smile. However, if they said yes, she would reveal her face and ask again. If this time, they said “no”, she would slash their faces regardless Even if they still said yes, she would follow them home and still brutally kill them. Many people believe the only way to break this pattern, is to confuse her by answering with either “you’re okay” or “so-so”, not providing a definite answer. The confusion from these replies would buy the victim enough time to get away.


       Don’t be too spooked —it’s unlikely you will be chosen as her next victim. However, in the case that you are, remember what to do to survive getting a smile like Kuchisake Onna’s.


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