Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear Photo: Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park

Ghost houses a staple of Japanese summers

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By Chinami Takeichi

“Ghost houses are all about hospitality,” says the manager of Obaken, one of the scariest haunted houses in all of Japan. Indeed, Japanese haunted houses, or obakeyashiki are on a completely different level when it comes to providing a riveting experience of being chased by zombies covered in realistic gore, inducing an adrenaline rush every three seconds.

Although beaches, pools, or shaved ice shops may be good places to cool off, many people also look to obakeyashiki as a site for both the thrill and chill during the hot summer. A popular hangout place whether it be for big groups or intimate dates, obakeyashiki is a Japanese specialty everyone has to try at least once in their lives. Below is a list of popular ghost houses, ranging from scary for obakeyashiki regulars to family-friendly and cost-friendly.

Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear at Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park

Photo: Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park

Claiming to be the most horrific and longest haunted house attraction that has been visited by over 4 million people, this obakeyashiki takes on the theme of an abandoned hospital ward. This ward is notorious for brutal human experimentation as can be seen in the operating room where the internal organs of newly born babies are being yanked out. An atrocious visual experience isn’t the only thing this ghost house offers. Shrill cries and moans can be heard everywhere and the smell of rubbing alcohol permeates the air throughout the 900-meter-long attraction. For those who become too traumatized, there is an option to “retire”, or exit the ghost house midway.

Location: Fuji-Q Highland (Yamanashi Prefecture)

Level: Scary

Price: ¥4,000 for a group of four with a free pass

Estimated time: 50 minutes

Daiba Ghost School

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This ghost house is school-themed, following the storyline of a student hanging himself and the school being tormented by eerie accidents and happenings ever since. This attraction ranked second in “number of screams” (2009 Flash magazine) and third in “scariness” (2011 Nikkei Trendy). Although there is no “retiring” option, there is “talisman mode” where the number of ghosts are reduced to a third of the normal rate. An interesting feature of this obakeyashiki is that you may get a chance to join in on a conversation among the ghosts if you’re attentive enough.

Location: Daiba, DECKS Tokyo Beach Seaside Mall 4F

Level: Scary

Price: ¥800

Estimated Time: 5-10 minutes

Obaken Escape House Mission Ifu Musebiya

This “escape house” themed ghost house has the slogan, “Human beings are scarier than monsters.” The mission for guests is to try to escape the house without being found by slaughtering criminals within a time limit of 60 minutes. To make the setting even more realistic, the attraction is located at a local house in the outskirts of Tokyo. For Obaken, reservations ares mandatory. Staff will come to pick you up at Honancho Station Exit 3A to guide you to the haunted cottage.

Location: Honancho (Suginami-ku)

Level: Scary

Price:  ¥2,500 for tickets in advance/ ¥2,900 for tickets on the door

Estimated Time: 60 minutes

Asakusa Hanayashiki Family Amusement Park

Photo: Asakusa Hanayashiki

So far, the haunted houses have been centered around everyday settings of hospitals, schools, and houses. This obakeyashiki titled “Sakura no Onryou”  (Revengeful Spirit of the Cherry Blossom) is perfect for people who want to get a somewhat traditional experience of being surrounded by stone-faced Japanese dolls in kimonos. As this attraction is part of the Hanayashiki Family Amusement Park (the oldest amusement park in Japan), it is relatively family-friendly and children five years and above can ride without a guardian.

Location: Asakusa Hanayashiki (5 minutes walk from Asakusa Station)

Level: Scary - Family-friendly

Price: admission fee of ¥1000 (adult)/ ¥500 (grade-schoolers) & free pass ¥2300 (adult) / ¥2000 (grade-schoolers)

Estimated Time: 10 minutes

Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Toei Kyoto Studio Park is home to film sets of Japanese period dramas known as jidaigeki. Once you enter the park, you are immediately transported back to the Edo era. Skilled actors and filmmakers give it their all to create a frightful experience in a samurai residence. In addition to the ghost house, live ninja and samurai shows are held throughout the park.

Location: Kyoto (Uzumasa or Hanazono Station)

Level: Scary - Family-Friendly

Price: Admission fee of ¥2,200 (adult) / ¥1,300 (junior and high school students) & additional charge of ¥500

Tokyo DisneyLand Haunted Mansion

For those with small children who prefer a friendlier experience, why not try the haunted mansion of Tokyo Disneyland? Set in a gothic mansion, visitors become trapped in an elevator and are taken downstairs where they ride through the dark and see detailed statues of ghosts, goblin and ghouls. These statues are so realistic that it looks like they’re glaring at you right in the eye.

Location: Tokyo Disneyland (Maihama, Chiba)

Level: Family-Friendly

Price: ¥7,400 for one-day passport (adult)/ ¥4,800 (child)

Estimated time: 15 minutes

Toshimaen Amusement Park

Another major family amusement park, Toshimaen, has a ghost house including graveyards and old temples. Toshimaen is not only famous for its rides and attractions, but also for its water park. Why not bring your kids to a ghost house to cool down after playing in the pool?

Location: Toshimaen Station

Level: Family-Friendly

Price: ¥300

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Gimme a real ghost. That’ll cool me off.

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