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Spooky Legends Pt. 2: Kuchisake-onna

Warning: Article not recommended for those 11 or under.

The Japanese myth Kuchisake-onna, or the Slit-Mouthed woman, is one to watch for during Halloween! This popular urban legend originates in Japan - which is known for its frightening ghost stories - during the Heian period; 800 - 1200 years ago. The Kuchisake-onna is the ghost of a figure who was mutilated and has come to seek revenge.

According to the folklore, the Kuchisake-onna was once a woman who was married to a samurai. One day she cheated on her husband, and when he found out he was furious and did the unthinkable. He slit her mouth from ear to ear as a punishment, giving her a Glasgow smile - a smile caused by wounds cutting from ear to ear.

Other variations of the tale state that her mouth was mutilated during a medical/dental procedure, that she was injured by a woman who was jealous of her beauty, or that her mouth is filled with sharp teeth, so she has an abnormally large smile. However, the most popular version of the story is when her husband inflicts injury.

Kuchisake-onna will sneak up on her victims while it’s dark and ask them a pivotal question: if they think she is beautiful. While she has this initial interaction with her perceived victim, her face is often covered with a face mask, a fan, or a handkerchief of some sort to hide her grim smile. If the victim answers yes then she will remove her face covering and ask if they still believe that she is pretty. This time if they said no she would use a knife, machete or a large pair of scissors to slash their face similar to her own. However, if the victim answers yes the second time, she will walk away only to follow the target home and slaughter them in their home.

Throughout the many versions of the tale, there are different ways you can escape the fate of Kuchisake-onna. Some fables say that she will leave her victim alone if they answer “yes” to both her questions. Another method her targets can use to survive is by describing her appearance as “average” or not giving her a direct answer, which allows the victim time to run away. Other tactics include giving her or throwing money or hard candies her way, or saying the word “pomade” three times.

While this story circulates around the world today, don’t be frightened by the legend of Kuchisake-onna - use what you learned today and you’ll be fine!


Mohsin, Maria. “Legend of Kuchisake-Onna.” The Business Standard, 30 Apr. 2020,

P, Nidhi. “Urban Legend of the Slit-Mouthed Woman.” Student Journalism, 6 Nov. 2019,

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