Ghost story no.1

Probably the most famous Japanese ghost story of all time is Yotsuya Kaidan (四谷怪談), known also as a Story of Oiwa and Iemon

Oiwa was a lady married to a rōnin Tamiya Iemon, who cared about her beautiful face above anything else. However, pretty soon there came another woman into the game. Her name was Oume and the stronger her feelings towards Iemon became, the more jealous of Oiwa she grew. In order to make Iemon fall in love with her, she came up with a monstrous plan…

She sent a topical poison disguised as a facial cream to Oiwa. The ointment’s affective immediately – Oiwa’s face is ghastly disfigured and her husband can’t even look at her, that’s how much disgusted he is by her. Once her beauty is gone, he seeks for a divorce but the one of an „honorable way“…

He asks his a brothel’s owner, Takuetsu to rape Oiwa, so that he can proceed to the legal action and get rid of his heinous spouse. Yet, Takuetsu can’t bring himself to do this so, instead, he simply shows Oiwa her reflection in a mirror. She’s horror struck and in tears of agony she accidentally punctures her own throat with a sword’s tip. With her last breath she curses Iemon’s name and dies in front of a stunned Takuetsu. 

Soon after Oiwa’s death Iemon is to be married to Oume, but as you can imagine, there is no happy-end for a new couple. At the wedding night the groom, being haunted by the ghost of his former wife, kills his new bride… Step by step Iemon descends into madness as his dreams and reality begin to merge and Oiwa’s haunting intensifies. The story ends with his death, the death of a tormented wrack of a desperate man paying for his sins.

Something more you should know of Oiwa:

Oiwa is an onryō (怨霊), a ghost who seeks vengeance. Her strong passion for revenge allows her to bridge the gap back to Earth. She shares most of the common traits of this style of Japanese ghost, including the white dress representing the burial kimono she would have worn, the long, ragged hair and white/indigo face that marks a ghost in kabuki theater.

Btw, did you know that Sadako Yamamura from the film Ring is a clear homage to Oiwa? Her final appearance is a direct adaptation of Oiwa, including the cascading hair and drooping, malformed eye.