About ten years ago, I went to the local theater on Halloween to watch the premiere of The Grudge. Now, not too many critics enjoyed this movie, but I found the horror film entertaining. Did you know that the show is actually based off Japanese folklore of the onryo or vengeful spirit? According to legend, when one dies enraged or in sorrow, their ghost returns and is capable of interacting with the world of the living. The onryo can inflict harm, cause curses and even kill people as it seeks to exact revenge. In Japan, there are tons of stories about vengeful spirits including the Teke-Teke.
There are many versions of this ghost tale, but for this article the most common one will be told. The story begins with a young Japanese girl walking home late at night, alone. While cutting through a train yard, she is assaulted by a gang of thugs who have their way and leave her for dead. Still clinging onto life, she drags herself across the ground looking for help. Unfortunately, the young woman crosses over a rail track, but unable to move in time an approaching train cuts her into two.
The legend say her ghost returns seeking vengeance as a teke-teke. This spirit is described as the upper torso of a woman, without the bottom half, dragging or even walking on her hands or elbows. The name of the ghost comes from the sound of her clawing along the ground, “teke-teke-teke”. The spirit is said to be carrying a scythe on her while roaming the city streets or buildings. Variations of the story tell how the teke-teke searches for her legs, seeks revenge on her attackers or is just cursed to wonder the earth, but all agreement an encounter with this ghost is deadly.
If you ever confront this spirit, she pulls out the scythe and with inhuman speed slices you into two. There are stories if you get killed by teke-teke, you are forever cursed to become one. The only way to surviving such an encounter is to be quicker than her or hope, in some versions of the story, she asks “Where are my legs?” If the teke-teke does question you this, reply with her legs are at “Meishin Railway” and remember to answer “Kashima Reiko” if asked who told you.
There are many other ghostly tales within Japan which I found to be very dark and twisted. In the near future, I plan on posting more Japanese lore, until then, I hope you enjoy reading this series.
Other Sources of Information
“Teke-Teke: Creepy Japanese Myths”. Wattpad. September 23, 2014. http://www.wattpad.com