The Japanese believe that all humans have a spirit or soul called a reikon. Ghosts are yurei, meaning “faint spirit.”
If a person dies in a sudden or violent manner, the reikon is thought to transform into a yurei, which can then bridge the gap back to the physical world.
The yurei tend to remain near where they died. They usually appear between 2 and 3 a.m., which is like the western world’s bewitching hour of midnight, and a time when the veils between the world of the dead and that of the living are at their thinnest.
Many Japanese ghosts are connected with battlefields and military bases. Here are some to chillingly consider.
Atsugi Naval Base
Located two hours south of Tokyo, Atsugi Naval base has a secret past, which includes the fact that it was a CIA U-2 Base, which housed the U-2 flown over Russia by Gary Powers in the early 1960s. In 1957, Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of John F. Kennedy, was stationed at Atsugi as a Marine radar operator.
The spirit of a young man who wanders aimlessly from room to room is said to haunt the naval base. It is believed that he is the ghost of a young marine who was killed in a car accident back in the 1960s
Atsugi: The Corrosion Hangar Bay
Located on the other side of the naval base, this hangar stands over an older one that was used by the Kamikaze pilots of Imperial Japan. Here, many pilots killed themselves in disgrace after Japan’s final surrender to the allied powers.
It is said that doors slam and disembodied red eyes float about.
Field Hospital- Kanagawa Prefecture
Located on the military base named Sagami Depot, this hospital has been the site of several unexplainable occurrences.
The building is hardly used, but nightly security checks reveal raised windows and locked doors that had been previously unlocked.
Many of the military police who patrol the building have reported hearing someone or something walking around inside.
Iwakuni- Barracks 1687, Room 301
A few years ago, a Marine living in that room committed suicide. He broke the mirror in a fit of drunken rage and slit his wrist with one of the shards of broken glass.
Since then, there have been reports from other soldiers staying in the room that sometimes very late at night when looking into the mirror, the dead marine stares back from somewhere deep inside.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
It should come as no surprise that these two sites of such terrible tragedy are haunted by the unfortunate souls who perished during the nuclear bomb attacks at the end of World War II.
Ghostly voices are heard at twilight crying and screaming for help.
Okinawa: Camp Hansen- Gate #3
After darkness falls, every weekend a soldier with blood all over his World War II fatigues and a cigarette in his hand would ask the gate guard: “Gotta light?” The MP would oblige and as soon the cigarette was lit, the soldier would disappear.
Whether you believe this or not, gate #3 at Camp Hansen is closed because of this reported haunting.
Tokyo: Akasaka Mansion
Many guests have reported seeing specters standing at the end of their beds, white mists coming in through the air vents and sudden changes of temperature in their rooms.
Some have reported a feeling of someone stroking their heads while they sleep, and one person claimed she was dragged from her bed to the other side of the room and then back again. Scratch marks on her back the next day corroborated her story.
Yokosuka Naval Base: Gridley Tunnel
It is thought that the ghost of this narrow, one-way tunnel that runs through a hill is that of a Samurai warrior who was on his way to avenge the death of his lord when he was ambushed and cut down in the tunnel. Because he failed in his mission, he can’t leave his place of death.
Visions of the samurai as reported by passing motorists have caused several accidents in the tunnel over the years.
Himuro Mansion: Tokyo Outskirts
The basis of the survival horror video game series that deals with ghosts, exorcism, and dark Shinto rituals, “Fatal Frame,” Himuro Mansion was the site of a brutal family murder and sacrifice.
Many weird happenings have been reported in and near the old mansion; including apparitions of those who once lived there, bloody handprints and sprays of blood, which mysteriously appear on the walls.
Sometimes, a small girl in a kimono is seen in one of the windows. To add to the mansion’s mystery, no one knows the significance of the vast tunnels the run underneath.
Yokohama: Ikego-The Middle Gate
The Middle Gate marks the spot where a concentration camp from the World War II era once stood. Here, thousands of Chinese and Korean people were put to work and then killed by the Japanese army. Today it serves as a U.S. military housing base.
There are five incinerators on the premises and three gates that separate it from the Japanese community. At the middle gate, patrol guards have reported hearing voices and footsteps, and have described the feeling of being watched by unseen eyes.
One recurring vision concerns a Japanese soldier from World War II in a brown uniform with no legs floating between the middle and back gates.
These incidents are part of a much bigger picture, as there are many more haunted spots in Japan. Most but not all date back to the era of World War II.
If you plan a visit to one of these spooky places, whatever you do, don’t go alone!