A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Article By: Eilfie Music

At the annual House Kepheru Gathering, while everything was winding down and people were preparing to leave, I started talking shop with some of the various guests. In connection with paranormal evidence such as photography and audio recordings. A topic that came up, which I really was not familiar with, was Japanese Ghost Videos. Apparently if you do a search for “Japanese Ghost Videos” or “Japanese Ghost Images” you will get a bunch of both videos and stills of strange ghostly sightings caught by random people. These were described to me as videos often caught on cell phones while people film each other in goofball moments, or caught on surveillance, but the kickers were apparently the ones caught on TV shows. How much of this is real or faked can be debated. Some of them stood out as some kind of special effect software, while others not so much. What fascinates me more than figuring out whether or not the evidence presented is true (or simply bored people’s way of scaring online viewers) is the true creepiness of the Japanese ghosts.

If you go to Japan (a wishful destination for myself) you will see at times amongst the modern fast-paced everyday life, small Shinto shrines tucked away. Some of these are dedicated to various deities while others are for spirits. These shrines look like small houses with the name of the person or deity written on the front. The world of the dead sits right next to the world of the living in Japan. Many homes have small altars called Kamidana, or “Spirit Shrines”, dedicated to family members who have passed. Food, incense, and prayers are offered daily. If a person who passed is given proper honors and did not die either tragically, suddenly, or with great emotional turmoil attached, they become ancestral spirits who can help the living. If a person has not been given the proper respect after death, or if any wrongs have not been corrected for them, they could become a yurei, or “Faint Spirit”, that has returned to haunt an area, building, or person. Yurei are often describe as faint translucent figures that have long unkempt hair, limp hands, white burial clothes, and faded to no feet. This frightening image is now seen in the horror adaptations of Japanese-based movies that pull much from their folklore and superstition. This shows the fear of someone’s spirit not being at rest and possibly causing harm or death to those who encounter them. What is interesting is the idea that people are not encountering a rational entity, but the raw emotion of someone’s last moments on earth.

Security footage is one of the forms that interested me, since these are everywhere and run 24/7. These emotionless monitors capturing every movement and are designed to make sure no one steals anything of value. They also seem to have become the new eyes for paranormal investigators. They bring up the question of whether, if no one is looking, will a ghost still go about its business? A couple videos that are questionable even show just how unaware of our environment we are. These moments are often lost since people are not looking for spirits while looking over surveillance. The static film shows either people still going about their former living occupations or, even stranger, a figure that does not look quite of this period moving around unnoticed. Many of these have turned out to be faked or some kind of environmental or mechanical malfunction that is mistaken for a wispy ghost passing by.

It is fascinating to see people just filming moments in their lives that they will show to friends and post on public video websites, unknowingly also capturing the faded image of a ghost either caught in the moment of death or trying to contact the living. Even if many of these videos are not real, they engage people’s interest in looking for evidence in the most unlikely places. This also shows us how a different culture views spirits and the afterlife. To people in Japan, a ghost means someone is unhappy or not being cared for properly in the next life.

Even with the frightening nature of these spirits, the method to trying and quell their anger is in some ways more logical than what is done in the western world. With the yurei that is causing trouble to either place or person, the key way to fix this is to find out why they are still around. Most often they have unresolved issues, are tied down due to an intense emotional moment connected to the death, or were improperly taken care of after death. If the reason for the haunting cannot be determined, then food, incense, prayers, and some kind of shrine or remembrance is setup. What anyone wants in life or death is to be remembered: to know they had an impact on the world and did not just fade away.

If you are dealing with a possible haunting, a page can be taken from this culture. Place a dish of food and a candle out in a quiet space that will not be interrupted. If you don’t know what the person likes, then simply bread, fruit, or candy is a good option. You are offering the spirit this substance as a way of acknowledging their presence and feeding the spirit. You can then ask for a pleasant cohabitation of the home and for them not to cause trouble, but to protect the home instead. You may want to continue to give them a bit of food once a week or month so as not to forget them.

Many of these videos are both scary and make you wonder. Even if they are faked, how creepy is it to think that ghosts can be anywhere you go and it just takes one camera at the right time to catch one? A place does not necessarily have to be creepy to be haunted.

Real The Grudge Japanese Ghost caught on security Camera


Japanese ghost (woman hit by train 2009)


おにビデオ 6 (Japanese Ghost Video 6) (TV show)


Ghost Caught on Singapore Elevator Security Camera


Girl’s reflection is Alive


Ghost Girl Spotted Near Vending Machine


Encyclopedia of Spirits:

The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses Judika Illes

HarperCollins, 2009

Japanese Ghost Stories: Spirits Hauntings and Paranormal Phenomena by Catrien Ross

Tuttle Publishing 1996


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