Along with telling scary stories, visiting spooky sights is a popular activity during Japan’s summer because such places are said to send a cooling chill down your spine. Why you might ask? Well, due to the influence from Chinese culture, Ghost Month happens every seventh lunar month. It’s been said that the barrier between our world and the underworld becomes much thinner, which might explain why Japanese families celebrate Obon at this time.
Shimane, Japan’s second least-populated prefecture, is famous for ghost stories and legends—especially in and around the capital city, Matsue. If you enjoy traveling off the beaten path and testing your courage, here are five recommended destinations.
Fumon-in is known for two hauntings. The first is at the main entrance’s adjacent bridge, which is allegedly frequented by the ghost of a woman who becomes angry if visitors sing a particular song. Local lore says a samurai once sang the offending tune here, unafraid of ghosts. Upon finishing the song and returning home, a mysterious woman gave him a box containing a child’s head. The samurai then discovered his son’s decapitated body inside his house.
In addition to the bridge’s phantom, the temple’s main gate has a strange feature. Look at the gate’s ceiling while passing underneath, and you may see footprints or handprints, which supposedly belong to ghosts.
27 Kitatamachi, Matsue, Shimane Prefecture - Map
Hours: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Closed Tues.) Reservations are required for admission in January and February.
Admission: Free for the outer grounds including the bridge and main gate. Admission to the inner grounds is ¥300 (¥900 with matcha and traditional sweets set).
Nearest station: Matsue station
Matsue Ohashi Bridge
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