The Japanese Girl Who Sees Ghosts
Hoshino-san is a friend of mine and she is one of the most active haikyoists I know. Originally from Fukushima, she lives in Tokyo and besides haikyo she also does calligraphy, cooking and aromatherapy. Since the events of 3.11, she got even more interested in Fukushima and Tchernobyl. Yeah, you got it, she is definitely not a usual girl! On top of that, she has a special ability: she can see ghosts! Curious to know more, I once met her at the Gunkanjima bar in Tokyo for the specific purpose of talking about this special ability. Here is the transcript.
When was the first time you see a ghost?
It was when I was in 4th grade, about 9 years old. She was an old Japanese woman, with a headscarf. I was at home alone in my room, and feeling really sleepy at that moment, so I went to bed early. When I woke up the next morning, she was gone. I have never seen her again after that.
How do you see them? Do they look normal, transparent, or is it more like a feeling of a
I have seen all different types. Sometimes you merely feel it, sometimes you can see it clearly. But even in the case where you can see them, you cannot look straight at them, it always appear when you look somewhere else and the spirits can be observed in the corner of your eye.
Do they appear and disappear all of a sudden?
They don’t appear and disappear just like that. It depends on the situation as well. You feel their presence first, then the feeling can go stronger and weaker. The feeling itself is like an instinct, six sense. If there is a door in front of you, you can feel their presence before even opening the door.
Do you see the same ghosts/spirits all the time?
Sometimes. For example my dad’s company has the same spirit there all the time. It was a man always hanging around repeating the same route. My dad sees spirits as well, and confirmed my vision on this one.
What do they do usually?
They normally do not move around much, they just stand there. Other times they repeat the activity they were doing while they were alive. For example a salary man’s spirit I saw was repeating the route he used to take: going to the office, then go to the cafeteria and back to the office.
Another example would be during a part time job I used to have. I used to work at a Soba shop, there was a man’s ghost there. He always stood there and look emptily in our direction. Most likely he did not realize that he is dead. A colleague with the same ability saw him as well.
What kind of animal spirits do you see the most?
Cats! There was a cat ghost in my dad’s company. We also have a cat ghost in our house. It walks inside the wall.
There is a hamster ghost too, very small. They used to keep hamster in my house. It feels very small and it’s confirmed with my dad, it turned out to be “Ham-Ham”. Although some people say that small animals do not turn into ghosts but I guess if they are with people for long, there are thoughts remains, so they turn into ghosts.
Have you seen ghosts of things that does not exist in our world? (ET, dinosaur, ancient creatures… etc)
There was one thing strange I saw once. It was 4 years ago. I was sorting out a photo with ghost inside at home, sitting beside a desk. I heard some noise then this thing like a white ‘Makkuro Kurosuke‘ with 2 legs appeared in my room. It jumped out from under the desk, and ran away. This is the only “monster” (a tiny one though) I have ever seen.
I have seen UFOs many times though. Actually my hometown Fukushima is called the land of UFOs, many UFOs appears around there. There is even a UFO museum and the owner is my dad’s friend. They used to look at the UFO photo together.
Is there a special smell or sound when there are ghosts?
Sometimes there is sound. With an animal spirit, once I heard the bell on an animal’s spirit that was running round.
Sometimes there is a smell (especially when it is a living person’s spirit). Like my grandmother, and my boyfriend’s living spirits. They came to me because they were worried about me. It happens often with my family, because we all have very strong spiritual power/feeling, so our own living spirits can travel easily.
Does anyone else in your family have the same ability?
As a matter of fact, most of my family members have the same ability. My brother can only feel it but not seeing it. My dad has the strongest ability. My cousins from my mom’s side see ghosts as well, but not on my dad’s side.
What is your best memory about seeing ghost? Any good looking ghost?
Most of them look quite scary. As for good memories, it actually depends on their (spirits’) feeling, if they died happily then I can feel it and share the same feeling.
There was a hospital although they all died of a bad disease but they ended happily. They seem to appreciate the people who took care of them and were not suffering much in the end. (The place mentioned here is actually the Small Pox Isolation Ward)
Can spirits/ghosts see you?
It is more like that the spirits are aware of the fact that I can see them.
Have you ever been possessed?
Yes, I am the type that can be easily possessed. My body feels heavy and cold, sometimes my heart hurts.
Unfortunately I cannot interact with the spirit, but one of my friend can. She used to talk to the spirits that possessed me to get rid of them for me. The spirits normally want something that is why they possess people, only someone has the ability to talk to spirits can help if that happens.
What do you think is there when we die?
Some people reborn. Some people simply disappear. Even bad people can get reborn, to be born into someone else to do good deeds. Someone who was poor and wished to be born in a rich family could have their dream come true as well. I do not know what I will ended up in the end, let us wait and see.
Do you believe in god?
I believe there is something, it could be a demon, but something is there for sure.
In what type of place we see the mosts ghosts? In Haikyos?
It depends on the place, it has nothing to do with whether the place is abandoned or not. Some places are more likely to attract ghosts, it is a bit like a Fengshui thing.
What is the most haunted place in Tokyo from your point of view?
There are so many! Oomori Kaigan Station (大森海岸駅) and Suzuka Mori Keiba (鈴ヶ森刑場跡) for example.
Suzuka mori keiba is no longer an execution yard, but some remains can still be seen.
The old well over there is really bad, full of weird ghosts. As a general rule, waterside tends to attract ghosts/spirits easier than land, you should definitely keep away from the old wells!
Gunkanjima is an abandoned island in the south of Japan that looks like a battleship. It is full of huge concrete buildings and you might think it its full of ghosts. You can check my articles about Gunkanjima (this is one of the most fantastic place ever!), please check my articles about Gunkanjima here.
Are there any ghosts on the famous Gunkanjima?
Unfortunately, no. I can feel the Memories and Feelings left there, but there was no ghosts.
I can tell you some super haunted haikyo places, you probably have been to some of them:
- The Ruin of Arakawaoki (荒川沖廃)
- The Maya Hotel in Kobe
- The I-Byoin (Osaka)
- The Shiraka Temple (白高神社)
There is another famous spot, Hachioji-Shijō. I have never been, but I have heard a lot about it. There is an abandoned castle, and even for people who cannot see ghosts, it is considered dangerous. Many people would feel cold or even sick around that area, even if they cannot see things (八王子心霊スポット).
Talking about haunted places, what about the famous suicide forest Jukai?
I have never been there, my dad went and all the photo he took ended up being ghost pictures.
Are there ghosts in busy places with a lot of people like Ginza, Shinjuku or Roppongi?
I only know about Shinjuku, because I go there often. Shinjuku Hyakunincho is quite haunted.
I used to work at a bar in Kabukicho, inside the bar there is a big mirror, one day when I look into the mirror a lot of faces appeared in it, they are spirits from different period of time. It was fun for me, so i said hi and wished for more of them to appear. In the end the amount of faces in that mirror really increased as I wished. Another person in the shop can see spirits as well, and she complained that because of me, more spirits appeared and they all went onto her.
About the ability
So, describe your ability of seeing ghosts for us, does it come and go, or is it a consistently strong feeling?
It is a feeling that changes periodically. I am in a stable period at the moment. Everything is pretty much quiet, I won’t see any unless I really want to. It feels a bit like an animal instinct, or an awareness, a feeling that tells you something is out there.
How do you feel about having this ability?
Personally I do not like it much, because sometimes you can see them, they follow you. Especially me because I am the type that spirits can easy get attached to. It is not a nice feeling when they are on you… My friend actually gave me a charm to keep the spirits from getting on me, and now I do not get any on me anymore.
I do not like it much also because I can feel how they feel when thy die; whether they were angry or extremely sad, the way they died or the fact that some of them still have unfinished wishes.
Do you have any other thing you can do or see that other people cannot?
I am much better than normal people at calligraphy. I also have very strong instinct and I am good at judging people’s characteristics. For example, you feel like the sun, strong, loud and obvious. You are also an extremely interesting person.
Is there a difference between Spirits and Ghosts?
Ghosts are more like youkai, they can only appear at one place, because they are born from that place so they are linked and trapped there.
Spirits, on the other hand, do not belong anywhere. Thus they can travel around, even follow you and get attached to/possess you.
How come only some people become ghosts?
I do not know the answer to that exactly. My friend says there are 2 explanations:
- The first one is called “zanryu shinen” (残留思念), it is like a remaining energy, or remaining thoughts. Sometimes the energy/thoughts remains because there are something they could not do so that the will remained.
- The other type is when people die in accidents and they do not realize that they are dead. For example my friend works in Tohoku Tesco told me that after the earthquake one day he was walking through the rubble’s and a little girl caught his feet. Apparently the girl did not realize that she is dead. My friend explained to her that she is dead already, she then let go of him and disappeared.
Japan seems to have a stronger belief in ghosts than other nations, do more people here see ghosts as well?
I do not think so. It is after all a very rare ability. But similar to the law of attraction, because I can see ghosts, I naturally have many friends around who have the same ability. Sometimes my friends and I gather and exchange information about what to do in certain situation, but it is not any organization, just private. We share the visions we have and discuss what to do under certain circumstances.
For people like us who cannot see ghosts, do ghosts go on us?
It is possible. And once they got possessed, although they cannot see it, they can feel it. Some people feels cold and heavy as I do. Some people cannot feel it directly but their luck will go bad.
For people who cannot see ghosts, ghosts do not bother much either normally. So even if they are possessed, it is for a short while only.
Do you have any idea what the others cannot see it?
That is no the question, the question should be why do I see it? Being able to see ghosts is not a genuine ability that everyone longs to have. When you do have the ability, they are merely more objects around, nothing much to care about. Unless, of course, when they have a strong will left and they influence you somehow.
What are ghosts like
Do ghost keep exactly the same thing?
Most likely. You always hear from other people that there is a ghost somewhere behaving a certain way (like a girl ghost crying in the toilet on the second floor), and you go check it yourself, it is exactly as described (that girl ghost is there crying indeed).
Do ghosts/spirits age?
Nope, they don’t age. They stay at the age when they died. But that does not mean that all of them are trapped in space/time, only those who commits suicide are truly trapped, and they tend to repeat their death over and over again.
Do they travel? Can you see one in Tokyo, and the same one very far away later?
I have never seen them flew away or anything like that, do not think they can ‘travel’ very far themselves. Never heard of such a case either, the only possible way is when they are “on you”. I have not seen any ghost outside Japan yet, although some of my friends have.
Can you see ghosts from height?
I haven’t, but i heard that spirits are left at the place they die. For example there was a person died on the 10th floor, and the building was destroyed later. but the spirit stayed there, and when they build a new building at the same spot years later, the ghost appeared at the same place.
How do ghosts walk, do they walk fast or slow?
Never thought about it, they sometimes follow your pace, kind of just drifting around, and drift through walls and closed doors too. I think they can disappear and re-appears instantly if they wish.
Are they stuck in a purgatorial, before going to Paradise or Hell?
Instead of heaven and hell, we say this world and the other world (この世・あの世).
People who went into the other world disappear from this world. And people who did/could not go to that world are left here as ghost.
People who killed themselves are not accepted in the other world.
Also some people who got killed cannot go to the other world easily either. My grandpa was missing and found dead in the mountain later. He died from a gang accident and he cannot rest in peace even till now. So he remained here in this world to protect all of us.
The famous stories we have heard of like Hachiko or Oiwa, have you seen their ghosts?
I have never seen them myself, and I have never heard about anyone seeing their ghosts. The common stories we all hear when we are kids like monsters in the closet and stuff, are mostly imagination too. Never anything similar has happened to me.
Which Movie/Anime is the closest to the reality? Is there something we can watch to understand this matter a bit more, something that gives a good view on what you feel and see?
Not really. Although it happens from time to time that when you shoot movies like this you actually caught real ghosts inside the film. But the scenes inside movies are not likely to come true.
Maybe I am repulsive to ghosts?
Some people might repulse them. I had a friend that is repulsive to them. Whenever I saw ghosts when he is around, the ghosts always walk around him.
Can normal people see ghosts in ghost photos?
Yes. There are 2 types of ghost photos (心霊写真): there is one type where you can see the ghost clearly, the other one you really need to look very closely to be able to spot the ghost. But most of the time it is quite difficult to capture the ghost properly.
There is once I got a ghost in my picture, and it started to duplicate itself (the data) in my computer. In the end I had to format my computer to get rid of the ghost.
But people that claiming that they take only ghosts pictures and put them online, those are fake.
We always hear that kids see ghosts while adults do not. Is it true?
Quite likely, a lot of times you see kids talking to their parents claiming that there is something, but the parents cannot see the same.
Are there more girls than guys seeing girls?
Around me, yes. About 80% of my friends having the same ability are girls.
Do ghosts get attracted by smell?
Hmmm, on the contrary they might avoid certain types of smell, for example they avoid incense.
If I want to see ghosts, what can I do?
You can try ghost spots. But I won’t recommend it, it is not some ability that comes as you wish. However, some people started to see ghost when they are around me for a while.
Osore-zan, the mountain where people communicating with the ghosts during the matsuri (恐山大祭), is it real?
I do not think it really works. A lot of people claim that they can communicate with people but are not really doing so. I have heard more people that can curse others instead of communicating with spirits.
To finish, is there facts about ghosts you like everybody to know or understand?
The world you are seeing might not be the real world.
Photos from Hoshino-san
Here are a few haikyo photos taken by Hoshino-san. If you want to see more, you must check her blog, it’s updated daily!
Thanks to Hoshino-san for kindly replying to all the questions ! And additional thanks to Jing for the translations.
I am sure you now have many questions or comments in mind! Go ahead and I will ask Hoshino-san to reply to them (thanks in advance for using easy-to-understand English).