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Japanese Urban Legend: Kuchisake Onna

Fancy another Japanese urban legend? While it makes me very happy that people are reading my posts, I've got to say that the following article might disturb some readers especially those of a nervous disposition. Kindly proceed at your discretion. For those who aren't afraid of anything, I welcome you to read on!

One of the posters for the film adaptation 'Carved'

There was a particular horror film that had caught my eyes about six years ago. The poster showed a pale-looking, long-haired woman with lifeless eyes holding a pair of bloodstained, rusty scissors on close-up. However, that wasn't quite what had drawn my attention to. The woman had a huge, nasty slit across her mouth. Yeah, I'm talking about Kuchisake Onna, or the Slit-Mouthed Woman in English. The horror film which I saw is also known as Carved in some countries.

The Question

As mentioned at the beginning, Kuchisake Onna is another popular Japanese urban legend that has seen many adaptations over the years. Her trademark is actually a surgical mask which she wears to hide her slit. While there are different stories regarding Kuchisake Onna, one element remains relatively unchanged - that is, the Question. Kuchisake Onna targets young children walking home alone from school. She appears in front of her target and asks: Am I pretty? If the child answers No, he or she will be killed with the scissors that Kuchisake Onna carries with her. If the answer is a Yes, a second question will follow...but before that, Kuchisake Onna will remove the surgical mask to expose her slit. "How about now?" She asks. Basically, the child is left without any remote chance of escaping (at least not in the old legend). A Yes or No will still result in death.

Another manga adaptation of Kuchisake Onna

An interesting fact to note is that in the original Japanese, the question is an underlying wordplay. "Watashi, kirei?" (Am I pretty?) sounds like "Watashi, kire?" (Do I cut [you up]?). In some modern interpretations, it is said that Kuchisake Onna could be avoided rather effectively by these following methods. Instead of a Yes or No, the child answers with a 'So-So' or 'You are just average' and quickly takes off while Kuchisake Onna becomes confused with the response. An alternative answer will be a counter-question to her - the child asks if he or she is pretty, and escapes while Kuchisake Onna becomes just as confused. Simply running away from her isn't advisable as she has the ability to reappear countless times in front of the child. She is also an extremely fast sprinter.

Another way to escape Kuchisake Onna's clutches is by telling her about an appointment that the child already has, and he or she needs to rush off as soon as possible. Kuchisake Onna will then excuse herself (and probably go look for another victim). Also, the child can throw fruits or candies onto the ground, and make his or her escape while Kuchisake Onna bends down to pick them up. 

Heh heh heh...

The origins of Kuchisake Onna vary. It has been said that before Kuchisake Onna became a murderous monster, she was truly a beautiful woman who had been accidentally disfigured during a plastic surgery. The cause was due to the smell of her plastic surgeon's hair wax which made her uncomfortable, hence the sudden movement of her body which led to the unfortunate slit across her mouth. She became so furious that she killed her plastic surgeon with a pair of scissors. Another saying explains that Kuchisake Onna had been a long-time victim of physical abuse by her mother which resulted in heavy injuries to her face. 

Do you know that a bronze statue of Kuchisake Onna exists? It is located at Sakaiminato in Tottori Prefecture. It doesn't look just as creepy though. I would like a picture taken with the statue someday!

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪        

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