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More scary Japanese urban legends

By Matthew Coslett

Some of the scariest Japanese urban legends, like those in this bone-chilling list, are intertwined with reality. Whether from cautionary tales, mysterious occurrences or eerie happenings, these legends possess a disturbing semblance of truth.

More than just Japanese ghosts and monsters, urban legends’ creepiness, strangeness and unnerving plausibility leave an indelible mark of fear on those who dare to delve into their depths.

1. The Cow Head

The story is the real legend. Image: iStock/ sqback

The legend of Gozu, the Cow Head, instills fear in all who dare to hear its complete tale. The story is believed to bring dire consequences to those who listen in full—from blackouts and violent shakes to death itself. This terror has led storytellers to share only fragments, offering only a haunting glimpse.

Rumors tell of an elementary school teacher who discovered the original “Cow Head” story, leading to a spine-tingling encounter during a school trip. As the teacher recounted the tale of Gozu, what began as amusement quickly turned into silence, with students gripped by curiosity and fear. The air grew colder as the eerie story unfolded, sending shivers down the listeners’ spines.

Some felt an icy chill crawl down their backs, while others fidgeted nervously, unable to shake off the unsettling atmosphere. Even after the trip, a lingering unease remained, leaving an unsettling mark on their memories. The myth turns sinister in some retellings, with students experiencing sudden blackouts or meeting tragic ends.

The actual myth follows a bovine-human hybrid, reminiscent of a minotaur, who met a gruesome fate at the hands of desperate villagers who resorted to cannibalism. The curse he unleashed was so potent that merely reading about his story could drive one to madness and eventual death.

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© GaijinPot

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