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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Junior High School Ghost Story

I'll just come out and admit that I have never seen a ghost, but like to believe they exist.

Arriving in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan in late July of 1990, I was a just coming of a summer internship with the prestigious Toronto Star newspaper, and as such I like to ask questions.

On one visit to Ohtawara Chu Gakko (also known as Dai Chu, or Ohtawara Junior High School) I inquired of Shibata-sensei (Mr. Shibata one of the English teachers there) whether or not he believed in ghosts.

He smiled, called over some of the other teachers in the teacher's office and began to tell me the following tale.Now... I should mention that he actually told me the student's name, but because I was so new to Japan, I had not yet grasped hearing and understanding people's names. Suffice to say, I am sure he presented me with a real name.

Here's the story he told me, backed up with additional information from four or five other Japanese teachers - though the other six present all seemed to know the story:

During the twilight hours of late May 1988, a third-year (Grade 9) junior high school girl was standing outside the main doors of Dai Chu waiting for her friends to emerge to join her for a walk back home. The sun was about to set to the right of her.

There... towards the west, she saw a mother and daughter standing about 15 meters away from her - staring at her. They were dressed in traditional farming clothes, with the mother appearing to be in her mid-30s. She looked pretty, except she had a scowl on her face. The daughter she appeared to be in the 10-12-year-old range.

So the junior high school girl stared back... and then suddenly noticed that she could see right through them!

Too frightened to move, the junior high school girl cowered in terror, but the mother and daughter vanished after about 15 seconds.

The next day, the girl told the school what she saw... and rather than scold her for making up tall tales as she feared - they believed her. 

Here's why. After a bit of investigative reporting - IE asking questions of the teachers, I was told that during World War II, the Dai Chu school grounds housed a munitions factory.

Apparently the factory and the surrounding area had been bombed from the air numerous times by Allied forces.

In October of 1943, a mother and daughter who lived on a nearby far were killed by bomb meant for the munitions factory.

As such, locals believe that the spirits of the mother and daughter wander the school grounds angry at the Japanese munition factory's presence having cost them their lives.

No one knows if they want anything when they appear - which does not seem to be at any particular time of the day or night. There have been no reports of the ghosts doing anything except showing their displeasure in the manner described above.

Readers... for a stranger in a strange land who wants to believe in ghosts and is living on his own for the first time ever, I was pretty jumpy that night... alone.. in my large apartment building... where I tried to sleep that night, but failed... perhaps owing to the fact I turned on every single light in my home. No one called that night to remind me I wasn't alone... though I do recall thinking I should get a pet - even some goldfish, so that I would never be truly alone.

I had shivers down my backbone, and the next day at school, I stared hard at every little thing I would catch out of the corner of my eye. I never did see anything out of the ordinary, however... though again some of the teachers gathered around me to tell me of the Seven Mysterious Stories of Dai Chu.

A tale for another day, perhaps.

Andrew Joseph  

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