Japanese Mythology and Folklore – Kuchisake-onna

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It is said that in cold misty nights, through the streets of Japan a woman with a mask. The woman, pretty in appearance, approaches the pedestrians and timidly asks:Watashi wa kirei? “ (I’m pretty?). But behind his mask he keeps a secret. The name of this being is kuchisake-onna (口 裂 け 女), What does it mean “Woman with a cut mouth”.

Supposedly the legend originated with a woman who lived hundreds of years ago (perhaps in the Heian period) who was the wife or concubine of a samurai. It is said that this woman was very beautiful, but also vain, and even that she was unfaithful to her husband. The samurai, extremely jealous, attacked his wife and cut her mouth from ear to ear. Then he yelled at her: “Who will consider you beautiful now?” After that, the woman had to cover her face with a fan to hide her scar.

The urban legend take this as a starting point. It tells of a woman who prowls at night (especially on foggy nights) with her face covered by a mask. This is not uncommon in Japan on cold days, as people normally wear face masks on the streets to avoid infecting others. When he meets someone, mainly children or students, he shyly asks “Am I beautiful?” or a similar question. If the person answers affirmatively, he discovers his face, revealing his scar and repeating the same question. So if the person runs out of fear, the woman runs after him. It is usually said that it carries a sharp object, like a knife or scissors. In case of being caught by kuchisake-onna, it leaves a similar scar.

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In some versions it is said that kuchisake-onna fleet (like the appearances represented by artists from Ukiyo-e, which portrayed them without feet and floating). Kuchisake-onna has appeared in several images dating back to Edo period. Later it was forgotten by Japanese folklore when it entered the modern era. The legend was taken up in 1979 and 1980, based on some news of attacks on children.

In the modern era, the causes of your scar in the mouth they diversified. Some legends say it was due to a surgery that went wrong, others say it was a car accident. Others, more original, say it was due to environmental pollution that also gave him seven toes on each foot, allowing him to run faster. A different version that is an escaped psychiatric hospital patient who inflicted the wound herself. They even say that she was the victim of a rape in which that scar was also left.

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It is also said that to escape from kuchisake-onna You have to give him a food that is difficult to bite (fruit, hard candy) that reminds him of his scar, and then he runs away. A lotion works too. According to the legend in which she was raped, the rapists wore lotion. You are also lucky if you have an “O” blood type (the Japanese are very superstitious about blood type). He also cannot use stairs, nor will he attack people who offer him band-aids. The most original says that if “garlic” is said three times (ninniku) and the kanji for dog (犬) is drawn on the palm of the hand, it is possible to drive away the monster (I cannot find a logical explanation for this).