Spooky Haunted Houses for the Summer + 1 in Okinawa That’s Scary and Fun
Fireworks, shaved ice, yukata… we have been introducing many summer traditions that are specific to Japan. In fact, haunted houses or Obake Yashiki are also thought of as a summer tradition in Japan. Generally in other countries, haunted houses are not necessarily associated with summer and seems more aligned with Halloween like in the U.S. In Japan, we think that going to haunted houses can cool you down. There is actually some scientific reasoning behind this; by experiencing something scary and the brain sensing this, the hormones and autonomic nerves act up to give off a cooling sensation to the body…but enough of this complicated stuff. Just think of it as “there are fun events that take place only in the summer time”! So today we are introducing 4 scaaaaary haunted houses and 1 very fun haunted house.
“Anoko”,The Kid Who Lives Inside Tokyo Tower / Tokyo Tower
This is the average walk-through type of haunted house. It is open for a limited time during the summer on the basement level of the Tokyo Tower.
The background story is set over 50 years ago. There was a mischievous “kid” who came to live in an old mansion by the outskirts of the city. Because he was always causing so much trouble the people of the city boarded up the windows and the entrance to the house, locking him in with just a “tin box of candy”. Since then, no one has seen this “kid”. Now, 50 years later, in the basement of the Tokyo tower, there have been rumors that people have seen a boy wandering around, making clanking noises with the candy tin…
The production of this haunted house is orchestrated by a team called “Shochiku Obakeyashiki Honpo”, a highly skilled team with a lot of experience creating horror attractions (Shochiku, by the way is a major film production company in Japan). With the Shochiku movie technology, they have realistically replicated old kitchens, Buddhist altars, and parts of the old mansion. You are sure to have a frightful experience as if you have walked into a horror movie.
What’s unique about this haunted house is that you can decide what level of frightfulness you want to experience. If you are going alone or if you are easily frightened, it may be better to start with Level 1. Level 3 can be quite a frightening experience!
Zombie Defense University / Laforet Harajuku
This is an interactive type of attraction where the participants try to escape zombies and reach the final goal. Within the various areas of the attraction, they have buttons called “Zom-barrier”. By pressing this button, you are able to stall the zombies. You think you can escape all the zombies?!
The setting is…in recent days there have been frequent sightings of zombies all around Japan. Due to a request from the government, a Zombie Defense University (ZDU) is set up to hold a boot camp to teach people to combat zombies.
In this program, there are special lectures by the ZDU professors who stand on the stage to explain how to fight the zombies. You can experience through the lectures and actual training how to protect yourself from the attack of the zombies coming at you.
Official Homepage: http://www.zdu.jp/
Address: Laforet Museum Harajuku, 6F Laforet Harajuku 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Map
Dates: FRI August 7th 2015 to MON August 31st
Time: 11:00 to 21:00 (Last entry is 20:30)
The House of the Haunted Ring / Tokyo Dome City Attractions
The main theme of this haunted house is the “ring”. You get a ring at the entrance and your mission is to calm the grudge of the ghost haunting the house by putting a ring on her finger. FYI, the grudge isn’t about her not being able to get married! Lol.
The story is about Ayuko, a very good piano player. She had lost her mother when she was a little girl. Right before her mother passed, the mother took the ring off of her own finger and put it on Ayuko’s finger to show that “she will always be looking after her”.
Ayuko grows up and decides to get married but her husband-to-be finds that the ring her mother gave her will not come off her finger. The fiancé tries to force the ring off her finger but tries too hard and Ayuko’s finger gets broken. This got the mother’s ring to come off Ayuko’s finger, but with her finger swollen, the wedding band won’t fit on her finger either. With her finger broken, she can no longer play the piano as she once did.
Having had their marriage start this way, there was no way they could find happiness with one another. The songs Ayuko played in memory of her mother sounded broken and twisted when played with a broken finger. The husband starts to think that she is doing this out of spite to make him feel guilty. One day, he creeps behind Ayuko’s back and slams the top of the piano on Ayuko’s hands. With a deafening shriek, all the rest of Ayuko’s fingers are shattered as well. Ayuko now had lost all connections with her mother and eventually passes away. Her grudge was too strong though and her spirit still wanders around the house. Do you think you can successfully fit the ring onto Ayuko’s broken finger to settle her grudge?!
“Sakura no Onryo” Revengeful Ghost of the Cherry Tree / Asakusa Hanayashiki
Having opened in the Edo perioed, the Asakusa Hanayashiki amusement park has a history of 158 years. The haunted house is based on of the “revengeful ghost of the cherry tree”. It is one of the legends secretly passed down in the long history of this amusement park.
The legend is about an individual who was once working at the Hanayashiki. He was responsible for taking care of the flowers and plants within the park. One day he cut down the large and old “cherry tree” that was in the park. Cutting down the cherry tree sparked a series of haunting events…and people could sense the presence of spirit that resided in the cherry tree…these stories are shown inside this haunted house.
This haunted house uses sculptures to scare people so those of you who aren’t too keen about actual people coming out to scare you in haunted houses, this may be the one for you. But just be warned, even if they are not live people, it’s still scary. The old retro feel of the Hanayashiki actually adds a frightening feel to this haunted house. The long corridor of about 8 meters (about 26 feet) is even more frightening because you can actually see all the way through. The sounds really add to the effect. You actually feel a chill down your spine and feel almost too frightened to keep moving forward.
The most frightening aspect of this haunted house is the rumors of actual ghost sightings. Apparently, before the Hanayashiki became an amusement park, it was a show tent for animals. When the Great Kanto Earthquake struck, the animals saw a very sad ending…
FYI this haunted house is open all year round. It may be even more frightening if you go in the spring during cherry blossom season!
Check out this article for more information on another haunted mansion open all year round.
This one is often ranked as one of the scariest haunted houses in Japan and has recently undergone a renovation! Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear
Okinawa Omoro Obake Yashiki / HAPiNAHA
This is a haunted house with a completely different feel than the other haunted houses introduced here. They just opened in March 2015, but this is the world’s first haunted house where “all the staff are comedians”. It’s not only scary but there’s a lot of entertainment like laughs and all the participants working together toward a common final goal.
In order to save the department store from the spell of the majimun (this is what they call various ghosts and spirits in Okinawa), you must collect 8 Okinawan talismanic rocks called Ishiganto and head to the goal. A maximum of 8 people participate at once and it takes about an average of 35 minutes to reach the goal. There are games where you have to work together as a team so its fun even if you’ve never met the people you are participating with; there’s just a natural sense of teamwork that develops. There’s scares and there’s laughs so there’s continuous excitement!
So we’ve had some seriously frightening haunted houses to fun haunted houses where you work as a team. Does a frightening experience really induce a cooling effect on your body? Do try it and see for yourself if you feel a “cooling sensation”! Actually for myself through… I prefer the Okinawa Omoro Obake Yashiki with a little bit of a laugh!