After a small break to open our Ghent – Kanazawa Art Exchange Project (http://www.inarivzw.be/projecten/ghent-kanazawa-art-exchange-program/), Monster of the Week is back. This week Inari decided to tell the tale of the Kuchisake Onna (口裂け女), or slit-mouthed woman. It’s a monster that is quite young; the first “sightings” are dated in 1979 in the Nagasaki Prefecture (長崎県). Even though this onryō’s tale is quite new, she has appeared in quite some movies and other media.
Reader discretion is advised because the kuchisake onna can be very explicit.
What is the kuchisake onna?
This monster is an onryō (怨霊), or an avenging spirit. She was killed by her husband after cheating on him. He killed her by cutting open her mouth from ear to ear; this violent death made her come back to avenge her death. She mostly appears in dark alleys and badly lit streets while wearing a mouth mask and a long raincoat. Classical onryō have long black hair and white skin and the kuchisake onna is no exception. Because these two features are considered as a beauty norm, this makes the onryō even more terrifying; the thought that someone so beautiful can be a violent spirit is pure horror.
What does the kuchisake onna do?
This onryō appears in dark alleys or badly lit streets and mostly attacks young children. She suddenly appears in front of them wearing a mouth mask and asks: “Am I pretty?”. Being polite, the victims will answer “Yes.”. The kuchisake onna will then take of her mouth mask, revealing the horribly ripped mouth and ask: “How about now?”. What happens next depends on the answer. If the victim answers “yes”, she will take out her scissors and give the victim the same slit mouth like she has. If the victim says “no”, she will kill the victim with the scissors. Trying to run away is useless as the kuchisake onna has superhuman speed and will catch up to the victim instantly.
How can you escape?
There are multiple ways to escape the kuchisake onna. You could always try to confuse her by saying she looks average. The kuchisake onna will be shocked by that answer and will not know what to do, giving you the chance to run away.
Another option is throwing hard candy at her. Apparently the kuchisake onna loves hard candy and will thank you for the treat.
If you say that you already belong to someone else and that you cannot answer her questions because of that, she will apologise and leave you alone.
Finally, you could just return the question and ask her whether she thinks you’re pretty or not. This will confuse her, giving you the opportunity to run away.
Is she real?
There were a lot of sightings after 1979, causing panic all over the Nagasaki prefecture. The cities were forced to issue curfews and to let the teachers guide the children to their homes. Since the 2000’s, she was also sighted in South-Korea where she wears a red mouth mask and chases children.
In 2007 a coroner found old records about a woman with a mouth mask who was chasing a couple of kids; she was run over by a car and when they took off her mouth mask, she had a mouth that was sliced open from ear to ear. Some people today think it was a serial killer who wanted to take revenge for what was done to her.
Just remember, always keep some hard candies on you, you never know the kuchisake onna wants to share her beauty complex with you.