Monsters aren’t only born in antiquity. They can come into existence anywhere at any time. If anything, being newer and unknown gives you an edge. People don’t suspect you until it’s too late, especially if they’re not from your native land.
Such is the case of the Kuchisake-Onna, the Split-Mouthed Woman, of Japan.
While similar tales date back to Japan’s Heian period, the Woman as we know her has only been stalking empty city seats since the late seventies. While her origins are shrouded in mystery, most people believe one of two stories: either she was in a car crash that split her mouth from ear to ear or her husband discovered she was cheating and sliced her mouth before killing her. Those who believe the former story may be onto something since a cornier came forward in 1981, claiming to have prepared the body of woman with a split mouth who had been struck by a car while chasing children. Whatever her origins, she still roams Japan’s shadows in search of someone to tell her she’s beautiful.
When she corners a victim, usually a child on a way home from school, she gives them a simple question, “Am I pretty?” Given that she wears a surgical mask, a common thing in Japan, especially during flu season, the victim usually answers, “Yes.” It’s an honest enough answer, until she pulls down the surgical mask.
Then, with her mouth visibly split from ear to ear, she asks again, “How about now?”
If the victim answers, “No,” she kills them with her giant pair of scissors. If the victim can keeps their wits about them long enough to choke out a “Yes,” then she grabs them and slices their mouth to look just like hers. They did say she was pretty after all.
No wonder students were escorted home in groups at the height of her sightings.
So, if you don’t want to end up dead or looking like the Joker, what’s a poor unsuspecting student, late-night traveler, or foreigner to do? Apparently, the best thing to do is to give a noncommittal answer. A simple, “You’re average,” or “So-so,” should do the trick, but you better pray she speaks English. The answer is said to confuse the woman long enough for you to run away.
The U.S. doesn’t seem like good stomping grounds for the Kuchisake-Onna, seeing as we don’t wear medical masks very often. This may mean she keeps her hunting to days like Halloween when odd behavior and costumes are to be expected. She could, however, just get craftier instead. With the temperature steadily dropping around the county, big bulky scarves and coats with high, thick collars are becoming more and more common. It would be easy for her to walk through crowds relatively unnoticed if she changed her attire.
So, with cold weather and Halloween around the corner, keep your wits about you and, if a random stranger asks you if you think she’s pretty, be careful what you say. Your answer just might be deadly.
Image from tumblr.com