The Japanese urban legend of Kuchisake-onna (the Slit-Mouth Woman) was believed to be very real in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture in 1979. In fact, reports back then were given such merit, the police stepped up patrols in the area and parents were warned not to let their children walk the streets unaccompanied by an adult.

Details of Kuchisake-onna’s legend vary from source to source but the prevailing tale is that she was the very beautiful wife of a Samurai warrior during Japan’s Heian Period (794-1185). When her husband discovered she had been unfaithful to him, he became outraged and slashed her mouth from ear to ear, leaving her horribly disfigured, wearing a permanent gaping and grotesque, evil smile. He then asked her “Who will think you’re beautiful now?”

The modern legend has her wandering the streets of Japan, wearing a surgical mask. As it’s common in Japan for people with colds to wear surgical masks in public to avoid spreading their germs to others, this is not an unusual sight. Tall with long, jet-black hair, wearing a long overcoat, she appears usually at night, before children or sometimes college-age students, but never older adults. She asks “Am I pretty?” If the answer is no, she kills the young person with a huge pair of scissors she carries. If the answer is yes, she lowers the mask and asks, “How about now?” If the answer is then no, the young person is killed. If the answer is still yes, she slits the young person’s mouth to resemble hers.

You can’t win with this lady and it’s impossible to escape her by simply running away, as she will just reappear again in front of the victim. However, it is believed that one can escape her using other methods. One being by answering her evasively, thus being able to run away while she’s confused or lost in thought. Another is by throwing candles or fruit at her (if one should just happen to have either on them when encountered), which she’ll pick up, giving the intended victim a chance to flee. Above is Korean cosplayer Mussum’s winningly accurate representation of the character.

Arguably, the most notable and accurate film adaptation of the character and legend, was in the 2007 movie Carved, which starred Miki Mizuno as Kuchisake-onna (above). Mizuno’s portrayal of the character was based on the best-known version in pop culture. Click on the photo if you think she’s pretty.



  1. Avatar of Dr. Lee

    Normal transmission will be resumed tomorrow. :-)

  2. Avatar of taipan

    Upon reading of the Japanese legend involving the disfigurement of a person via the slitting of the mouth to leave them with a grotesque smile, I was reminded of 2 French movies I’ve seen in recent years. “House of Tolerance” focuses on the daily lives of prostitutes working out of a Parisian brothel. The film is hard to watch at times, such is the wretched life of these poor women, and none more so than “Madeline” whose face is slashed by a sociopathic client. The “Man Who Laughs” is based on a Victor Hugo novel. At the heart of the movie is a love story in which the grotesqueness of the disfigured male character is hidden by the physical blindness of the woman who adores him. Now I can’t recall any Asians featuring in either film and consequently acknowledge this post has a somewhat tenuous link to Cec’s original post and the core content of the Asian Sirens site!

  3. Avatar of fungusfarm

    Wow! Creepy disgusting! perfect for Halloween!
    Happy Halloween!

  4. Avatar of ssn

    Whoa! I clicked when I wasn’t thinking….yikes!

  5. Avatar of arf

    That’s icky.

  6. david’s avatar

    Pretty scary but still better than my last blind date.

  7. gunnar’s avatar

    i know it’s halloween and everything, but WE WANT HOT NAKED GIRLS ;)

  8. Avatar of smellykev

    I’m confused. So the Joker was originally the wife of a Japanese Samurai?

  9. Avatar of The-Dean

    Creepy for sure. But not nearly as scary as the ending of In the Realm of the Senses.

  10. Avatar of Lapis

    A very interesting urban legend! Must see that movie myself.