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The Mysterious Woman Who Bought Candy: An Ancient Japanese Ghost Story

Candy Buying Ghost WomanWhen confronted with the mysterious are you the type of person who wants to find out more, or run away?

Not everyone is brave enough to come face to face with the unknown. In this ancient story from Japan a man does just that, and is shocked by what he finds…



THE CANDY SHOP

The candy shop owner had been doing the same routine for almost forty years.

Like every other evening, after the sky got dark he closed the heavy wooden door and began to sweep. It was a relaxing chore, something to clear his mind before he went home to his family.

But that night three loud knocks broke the solitude of his sweeping. His heart nearly stopped from the fright of it and he ended up standing there with broom in hand, staring at the door.

After a short pause the knocks continued, but this time louder and more frantic sounding. Who could it be that needed candy so badly at this time of night?

Ghost Story Candy Shop JapanCuriosity won out over his fear and the man walked over and ever so slowly opened the door.

Standing there was a frail looking woman dressed in a simple, but beautiful white dress. Her hair, though, was a tattered mess.

She moved her palm towards him to show a small coin. “Please,” she said in a strained voice, “I have this and I need a piece of candy.”

He could plainly see that the coin was not worth much. Most candy shop owners would laugh in her face and tell her to come back with a proper amount of money. But he found it hard not to take pity on her.

He broke off a chunk of candy and handed it to her, trading the candy for the coin.

The woman cradled the candy in her hand like it was the most precious thing in the world, and ran off without saying another word.

A strange encounter no doubt about it,” he mumbled to himself under his breath. On the way home he couldn’t help but ponder over what had happened. But in the end he dismissed it from his mind as another mystery that couldn’t be solved.

Or so he thought.


THE MYSTERIOUS WOMAN

The next night when the candy shop owner opened the door to go home he nearly jumped out of his skin. Standing there on the other side of the door was the woman in white, with the same frazzled hair as the night before.

She was holding another small coin in her hand.

“Please, may I buy another bit of candy?”

“Why, y-y-yes,” he replied and broke off another piece of candy for her. She took it and ran off through the open door without another word.

At this point he wanted to follow her and see what this was all about. But stepping outside of the door he could see that the path she took through the trees was dark. The leaves rustled in an eerie way.

Scary Dark Night Moonlight Ghost StoryInstead he walked home to his comfortable, well-lit house.

Yes, she showed up the next night, and the next. All after dark, all after the wooden door was closed. The man began counting the number of times she showed up. One, two, three, four, five.

But on the sixth night the woman said something different. She explained this would be the last time she would come to the candy shop.

When hearing this a million questions popped up into the man’s head. But looking at the mysterious woman he found that none of his questions could quite make it out of his mouth.

And when she got the candy and ran out the door for the last time, he kicked himself for not asking her even a single question.

He hesitated a moment, but he couldn’t leave the mystery as it was. He quietly locked the door behind him and followed the woman at a distance down the path, which was dimly lit by the moon.


THE GRAVEYARD

The man followed her through a winding path in the woods. When she emerged from the trees he could see that they had come upon the edge of a graveyard.

She went into the graveyard and stopped at a particular grave.

The man could barely force his feet to follow. He hid behind a bush and willed his teeth to stop chattering. But it was too late.

The woman turned around and looked directly at him, it was like an arrow had been sent straight through his body.

Candy Buying Ghost In GraveyardThey locked eyes and a few seconds later the woman vanished into thin air.

The man sat frozen for a long time, just him and his chattering teeth. Finally he couldn’t stand it anymore and his curiosity won out over the fear.

He walked over to the grave and had a look around, but there was nothing.

The name on the headstone was not familiar in any way, and there was no sign of the woman anywhere. Her footprints stopped right at the grave.

Suddenly he had a sinking feeling. He was all alone …in a graveyard. His courage was starting to drain out of him and he wished he was back in his warm, comfortable shop.

Then he heard a noise —it was the cry of a baby, a muffled cry.

He could hardly believe it but the cry seemed to be coming from the dirt underneath his feet!

Not caring about fear or courage anymore, he ran as fast as he could to a building at the far edge of the graveyard. It was a Buddhist monastery, which was responsible for the care of the graveyard.

Pounding on the door, he explained to the head monk that there is a live baby buried in the cemetery.

A group of monks came out with the man to the grave site and dug up the grave. There they found a crying baby, clutching candy in his hand.



SIX COINS

The head monk turned to the man and said that he remembered the recent burial of a woman who had died while pregnant. She miraculously must have given birth after being buried.

Son of Candy Buying Ghost

It was a custom back then that when a loved one died, you would bury them with six coins to pay for their soul’s passage into the afterlife. The ghost of the woman had used these coins to buy bits of candy for her baby to suck on, so that he could stay alive.

The head monk spoke gently to the corpse of the woman, explaining that he would take care of the baby now and that she didn’t have to worry anymore.

The candy store owner took six coins out of his pocket and laid them on the woman’s heart. In the years afterward he would visit her grave regularly, and leave sweets.

As for the baby, he grew up in the monastery and became a monk of high standing, never forgetting the love of his mother…that extended even after her death.

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10/30/2018
story talk

I Thought Ghosts Were Normal: Shoutout This Week To Beth K

Scary Ghost For Ghost StoriesThe shoutout this week is to Beth K, who commented on Facebook about the ‘Ghost Children Of The Train Tracks’ story:

“Ha! We had our own stories here in NC that I grew up with. I thought ghosts were normal.”

I have to admit that my first thought when reading that comment was how jealous I was that she grew up in a place where “ghosts were normal”.

How weird! It’s funny because as a kid I was terrified of ghosts, but at the same time I ate up ghost stories like they were candy. I had even tried to conjure up ghosts a couple of times.

Scared Face Scary StoriesWhat the hell would I have done if I’d saw one? Have a heart attack …or maybe be so thrilled that I would never be the same afterwards (probably both).

My friends and I always felt that ghosts were real but there was never any proof. We wanted proof desperately, but were scared of actually getting the proof at the same time.

I am trying to imagine what it would be like to grow up thinking ghosts were just another part of the neighborhood.

What about you…would you rather grow up thinking ghosts are normal or would that be too scary?

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08/22/2018
story talk

Crying Ghosts In The Girls’ Bathroom: Shoutout This Week To Missy

Moaning Myrtle ghost true storyThe shoutout this week is to a reader named Missy, who saw the Legend Of Hanako-San story and felt like it reminded her of someone she had seen before…

“OMG!!! Is it just me or does this sound A LOT like Moaning Myrtle? The out of order bathroom, how she got bullied.”

I thought that Missy had a great observation, and reading her comment made me want to look into whether JK Rowling had been inspired by the story of Hanako-San to create Moaning Myrtle.

You might remember Moaning Myrtle as the extremely moody ghost from the Harry Potter series. She was a girl who had been a target of bullying by the other girls in her class. They liked to make fun of her glasses and the huge amounts of acne on her face.

After a particularly vicious round of bullying one day, she had ran into a stall in the girl’s bathroom to cry. It was there in that stall that she met her death, leading her to haunt that bathroom for generations. Her ghost was so annoying that almost everyone in the school forever avoided that entire bathroom, making it a great place to do things like brew forbidden potions.

I’ve always thought Moaning Myrtle was a fun character, the kind of ghost that wouldn’t scare you half to death if you met her, though you’d be driven away for other reasons (the whining, for example).

Hanako-San looking in the mirrorHanako-San was also a girl who was relentlessly bullied by her classmates. Bullying is apparently a huge problem in Japanese schools and can become quite vicious.

Hanako-San was the victim of this kind of extreme bullying and would often run into the girl’s bathroom to escape the bullies and cry, with the 3rd stall being her favorite one to hide in. But one day when she was hiding in there she died, either by suicide or the ceiling collapsing on her, depending on which story you hear.

The ghost Hanako-San is a more frightening character than Moaning Myrtle by far. If someone calls out to her she will either slowly whisper a response or reach out to drag the person into the bathroom stall to try and kill them. Although some stories about Hanako-San do tell of how she will come to the aid of kids who are being bullied if they go to her for help.

Even though the two ghosts have dramatically different ways of dealing with their trauma, there is no doubt that their stories are very similar. We know that the story of Hanako-San dates back to at least the time of World War II and so is much older than the creation of Moaning Myrtle. That leaves us with the question, did Hanako-San have any influence over the creation of Moaning Myrtle?

Only JK Rowling would know, and a little bit of digging turned up this quote where she explains how she got the idea for Moaning Myrtle:

JK Rowling creator of Moaning Myrtle

The inspiration for Moaning Myrtle was the frequent presence of a crying girl in communal bathrooms, especially at the parties and discos of my youth.

This does not seem to happen in male bathrooms, so I enjoyed placing Harry and Ron in such uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

—J. K. Rowling

So Hanako-San hadn’t inspired Moaning Myrtle, but instead they both came out of the same real-life phenomenon of girls running into bathrooms to cry things out.

And let’s face it, bullying is the number one reason girls run crying into bathrooms. Especially at school.

Though in the world of stories, some of the girls never make it back out and end up lingering on as ghosts. They can’t seem to work through the trauma of how they were bullied during their life, and so end up haunting generation after generation of people. …Or at least those people brave enough to get near the girls’ bathroom!

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09/17/2017