Creature Feature: Kuchisake Onna

Kuchisake Onna (lit. “slit-mouth woman”) is a monster from Japan. Her defining characteristic is her mouth, which extends from ear to ear in a horrible, permanent smile. As the story goes, a samurai mutilated his lover in a jealous rage in order to destroy her beauty. She became a vengeful spirit, and nowadays can sometimes be found wandering the streets wearing a surgical mask. Japanese people often wear such masks during the cold season to prevent others from catching their colds, so Kuchisake Onna does not particularly stand out in a crowd.

Should you meet Kuchisake Onna, she’ll likely ask you if you think that she is beautiful. Apart from her surgical mask, she does appear to be a very beautiful woman, and anyway, most people say “yes” automatically to be polite. However, upon receiving a positive response, Kuchisake Onna will tear her mask off and show you her awful mouth, slit on each side all the way up to her ears. She will then ask you again if you think she is beautiful. Those who answer “no” or try to run away will be chased down. Kuchisake Onna can apparently run 100 meters in 3 seconds (thats like 75 mph!), and she usually carries a knife or scythe. Men will be killed immediately, while women have their mouths cut, creating a new Kuchisake Onna. Depending on the version of the tale, the only way to escape is to tell the Kuchisake Onna that she is beautiful the second time, or to distract her with fruit or candy.

As with many Japanese horror tales, this one is recursive: women who are accosted by Kuchisake Onna can themselves become monsters if they answer her question incorrectly. Apparently there was a wave of Kuchisake Onna rumors in 1979 in Japan. More recently, 1994 film about Kuchisake Onna modernized the tale by making her disfiguration the result of a plastic surgery mishap. Another film of the same name is planned for release in 2007. There’s more to read about Kuchisake Onna at The Youkai Mura and Wikipedia. Update: Removed link to other film that was actually porn. Oops!

8 thoughts on “Creature Feature: Kuchisake Onna

  1. Awesome! I live here and I don’t even know half the shite you do! The cartoon kuchisake onna in your post, by the way, is much cooler than the one on the dvd box in the link. Just in case you were looking for a second opinion.

  2. man, to think I could’ve used this for my book, but oh well, I bet that this was the reason behind that murder

  3. Wish I could find my book right now to prove it, but has anyone else red the actual Ring (The Ring) manga? I remember a mention of a ‘slit-mouth woman’ if I’m not mistaken or just delusional… That just makes it all that much creepier. Mmmm Japanese Horror.

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