Bebe Taian: Hyakki Yagyou: Kuchisake-onna

October 17, 2011

Hyakki Yagyou: Kuchisake-onna

Midway through October, and it's still barely Fall. We had a day or two of cooler pleasantness, but all in all, it's still fairly hot outside. Perhaps now* is still time for ro fabric here- if not yukata season all year 'round. In any event, it is surely awase season in Japan again!

I may wear one of my remaining hitoe wool kimono soon. I've been making time to wear yukata about once every two weeks. My current issue is largely storage-related, since we are downsizing so much! I've also had to clear out a large corner for the new cat tree, which is helping the kids get along much better now that they all have a comfy space of their own to nap on without being disturbed. Whoever designed it really knew cats- even the "flatter" spaces are curved, so that they can rest their heads more comfortably. Two of the cats are fairly large, so you can perhaps imaging the discomfort at laying down. In any case, it's very space-consuming, and I need to look at new options!

Halloween is still approaching. What should I do? If kimono is my regular outfit, and it isn't particularly theatrical or scary, perhaps I need a new approach- an obake, maybe? Perhaps Kuchisake-onna!

Probably, you've seen a more recent horror movie called 'Carved', or 'Kuchisake-onna', the Slit-mouthed woman. It is an updated version of a very old story, today often set in places like Tokyo, a city so big that anyone could be anyone!

The story starts the way they usually do: with a beautiful woman. This particular beautiful woman was very obsessed with her beauty, taking great pride in her lovely face. She is married off to a wealthy samurai, who begins to believe that she is being unfaithful to him (despite the numerous affairs most samurai were given free leave to have...); he becomes so enraged at this idea that he cuts her mouth from ear to ear, saying "Who will think you're beautiful now?" Later, she died and became a vengeful spirit.

Today, she walks the earth covering her face, entrancing people. She will ask you, "Do you think I'm beautiful?" If you answer yes, she'll uncover her face and ask, "Do you still think I'm beautiful?" If you say 'no', she'll stab you to death. If you say 'yes', she'll carve your face up like hers was. Supposedly, the only way to have a chance is to say "You are so-so" or 'average', and it will confuse her for a few seconds so that maybe you can escape! (Other variations: say you have a previous engagement, and she might excuse her bad manners; or give her sweets or a gift, and she might be distracted long enough to run away!)

Of course, the modern legend is a little different. In the late 70s for some reason, mysterious sightings of Kuchisake-onna were reported. Today's Kuchisake-onna is a beautiful woman wearing a surgical mask, which is a common sighting in Japan- especially during cold + flu season! Supposedly, even school children were sent home in groups because of it. Perhaps someone thought that a person imitating the old legend was running around, hurting people. In the new urban legend, the woman is perhaps an escaped mental patient who cut herself, a woman in a bad car accident, or someone who was a victim of plastic surgery. In any event, she looks like everyone else, and carries a large pair of scissors sharp enough to kill anyone who responds to her the wrong way.

Scary, isn't it?

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