This story first appeared on an online bulletin board, and has spread fear to many readers since then.
It was in third year of high school. I was visiting my grandparents house in the countryside.
The chill of early spring was still about, but I was lying in the sun on the veranda.
Then, I heard a strange sound, like a voice saying “Popopo, popo, po, popo!” When Iglanced up, I saw a hat moving along the top of the hedge. And at a break in the hedge, I caught sight of a tall lady. She was wearing a white dress.
The hedge itself was 2 metres tall, meaning that she must have been a considerably tall lady. And I mentioned this to my grandparents that evening.
My granddad spoke suddenly in an angry voice. He asked volubly, “When? Where did you see her?” “About how tall was she?”. And then went on to call somebody on the phone.
After a short while, my grandfather came back. He said to me, “We can’t let you go home today.”
My grandmother’s voice shook as she explained everything to me, little by little.
It turns out that in that region, there is a troublesome spirit known as Hashaku-sama. It takes on the form of a large lady, wearing something that looks like a hat, and the only sound it always makes is a strange laughing sound in a man’s voice that goes “Popopopopo!”
It is said that anyone who is bewitched by Hashaku-sama will be killed over the following couple of days. Also, in order to prevent Hashaku-sama from leaving that region, there is Jizo statues placed at locations on the borders with the surrounding villages.
While my grandmother was talking, my grandfather came, this time bringing with him another old lady. “This is really terrible. Please, take this” she said as she passed a papertalisman (ofuda- often seen at shrines) to me.
After a short while I was led to the second floor, where all the windows had been covered in newspaper. The newspaper on the windows also had talismans on them, and there was a pile of salt in each of the four corners of the room. There was a wooden object that looked like a box, and on top of it sat a small Buddha statue.
And with that, my grandfather said to me, “It will be night soon. You cannot leave this room until morning, ok? You must not leave before 7am tomorrow morning for any reason. As long as your grandmother or I have no reason to talk to you, we wont call you. You must stay here, without fail, until 7am tomorrow morning”. And the old lady added, “do not let go of the paper talisman. If anything happens, pray in front of the Buddha statue” and they left me alone in the room.
Before I knew it I had fallen asleep on the futon laid out on the floor, and when I woke up I checked the time. It was 1am. Then, I heard the sound of tapping on the window pane. Then, in my grandfathers voice, I heard somebody say “Hey! Are you all right? If you’re scared, you don’t have to force yourself to do this”. Without thinking, I moved towards the door. But then I remembered what he had said to me. And the voice continued, “What’s wrong? You can come out already”. I grew afraid, and began to pray to the statue of Buddha.
As I prayed there, trembling, I heard the same “Popo,po,po!” sound as before, and the sound of tapping on the window began again. As I stayed there, I somehow fell unconsciousness. When I awoke, the clock had passed 7am, and the salt in the four corners of the room had turned black.
Following that eventful night, I managed to make it safely home, and am no longer allowed to visit my grandparent’s home. After some time, my grandmother called to say that my grandfather had passed away. “Somebody has destroyed one of the Jizo statues. It’s the one in the direction of your route home” she said to me. Now, I can’t help but fear that some day, I’ll hear that “Popopo” again.
Well, how was this ghost story of Hashaku-sama? There is no way to verify its truth, but it has spread fear among many Japanese people reading on their computers and phones.
AO ONI (Blue Ogre)
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