THE FACELESS WOMAN

MUJINA

	On the Akasaka Road, in Tokyo, there is a slope called Kii-no-kuni-
zaka, ---which means the Slope of the Province of Kii. I do not know why it 
is called the Slope of the province of Kii. On one side of this slope you 
see an ancient moat, deep and very wide, with high green banks rising up to 
some place of gardens; ---and on the other side of the road extend the 
long and lofty walls of an imperial palace. Before the era of street-lamps 
and jinrikishas, this neighborhood was very lonesome after dark; and belated 
pedestrians would go miles out of their way rather than mount the Kii-no-
kuni-zaka, alone, after sunset.
	All because of a Mujina that used to walk there.

The last man who saw the Mujina was an old merchant of the Kyobashi quarter, who died about thirty years ago. This is the story, as he told it : --- One night, at a late hour, he was hurrying up the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, when he perceived a woman crouching by the moat, all alone, and weeping bitterly. Fearing that she intended to drown herself, he stopped to offer her any assistance or consolation in his power. She appeared to be a slight and graceful person, handsomely dressed; and her hair was arranged like that of a young girl of good family. "O-jochu," he exclaimed, approaching her,---"O-jochu, do not cry like that!... Tell me what the trouble is; and if there be any way to help you, I shall be glad to help you." (He really meant what he said; for he was a very kind man.) But she continued to weep,---hiding her face from him with one of her long sleeves. "O-jochu," he said again, as gently as he could,---"please, please listen to me! ... This is no place for a young lady at night! Do not cry, I implore you!---only tell me how I may be of some help to you!" Slowly she rose up, but turned her back to him, and continued to moan and sob behind her sleeve. He laid his hand lightly upon her shoulder, and pleaded:---"O-jochu!--- O-jochu!---O-jochu!... Listen to me, just for one little moment!... O-jochu!--- O-jochu!"... Then that O-jochu turned round, and dropped her sleeve, and stroked her face with her hand;--- and the man saw that she had no eyes or nose or mouth,---and he screamed and ran away. Up Kii-no-kuni-zaka he ran and ran; and all was black and empty before him. On and on he ran, never daring to look back; and at last he saw a lantern, so far away that it looked like the gleam of a firefly; and he made for it. It proved to be only the lantern of an itinerant soba-seller, who had set down his stand by the road-side; but any light and any human companionship was good after that experience; and he flung himself down at the feet of the old soba-seller, crying out, "Aa!---aa!!---aa!!!"... "Kore! Kore!" roughly exclaimed the soba-man. "Here! what is the matter with you? Anybody hurt you?" "No---nobody hurt me," panted the other,---"only... Aa!---aa!"... "---Only scared you?" queried the peddler, unsympathetically. "Robbers?" "Not robbers,---not robbers," gasped the terrified man... "I saw... I saw a woman---by the moat;---and she showed me... Aa! I cannot tell you what she showed me!"... "He! Was it anything like THIS that she showed you?" cried the soba-man, stroking his own face---which therewith became like unto an Egg... And, simultaneously, the light went out.

A FACELESS WOMAN UPDATE

	The faceless Woman made her first appearance in Hawai`i on May 19, 1959
when Bob Krauss reported in The Honolulu Advertiser that she had 
allowedly visited the ladies' restroom at the Waialae Drive-In Theater in Kahala.
	In one version of the story, a girl left her car and went into the restroom 
around midnight to put on fresh lipstick. In the mirror she saw a figure behind her 
with long hair and no face. She saw that the figure had no legs, only half a body. 
When the girl turned around, there was nobody behind her. The door slammed 
shut and locked as the poor girl screamed and fainted.
	In another version reported by Krauss, the woman went to the restroom. As
she entered, she noticed the place was occupied by another woman who was
standing in front of the mirror combing her long, beautiful hair. The first woman
came closer and spoke. The second woman turned slightly. She had no face. The 
first woman was so frightened she ended up in the hospital with a breakdown.
	The suggested cause for the haunting of the faceless woman was the fact
that the Waialae Drive-In Theater was located next to a cemetery. Although 
manager Albert Silva strongly denied in 1959 the stories that the restrooms of his
drive-in theater were haunted, he did note that the stories helped business. "Every 
night a couple dozen people asked me if I've seen the ghost," he said. "I haven't
but I've sure heard enough about it. Business has been booming since Thursday."
	When I first discovered the faceless woman in the newspaper archives, I 
was curious whether anyone had ever actually been an eyewitness to the unusual 
entity. The story by Bob Krauss indicated that the sightings were "rumors." No 
single firsthand account given of the woman's appearance. This was a perfect 
example of what Jan van Brunvand called "urban legend," stories from the friend of
a friend, who had heard the tale from his cousin.
	During the course of a radio interview in 1981 concerning Hawai`i's ghosts, 
an anonymous caller asked if I had heard of the faceless woman in the Waialae 
Drive-In. I assured her that the ghost was famous in 1959 and that I had indeed
read about this urban legend. The caller then proceeded to share with us her 
personal, firsthand account of seeing this faceless creature. The spirit had red hair, 
the caller said, and was combing her hair down in front of her face in the mirror.
When she looked in the mirror, the red-haired woman combed her hair back, 
revealing that she had no eyes, no nose and no mouth---only a blank, featureless 
face.
	All these incidents were included in the first ghost story which I submitted in 
1983 to the Hawaii Herald, a newspaper for the Islands' Japanese-American
community, an essay which was reprinted in 1994 in OBAKE: Ghost Stories in 
Hawai`i. In that essay I suggested there were strong ties between the faceless
woman of the drive-in and a similar spirt called "mujina" which had been
described by Lafcadio Hearn in Kwaidan, his wonderful collection of obake 
stories. Further research revealed that this faceless ghost is also seen in 
contemporary Japan---often inside female bathrooms.
	Since the publication of the first essay on mujina in Hawai`i, the faceless
woman has evidently expanded her appearances to other venue throughout the 
Islands. For example, rumors now circulate that she has been seen in two different 
restaurants in Hilo, and that several shopping malls on the island of O`ahu have been
visited by the faceless phantom. Specifically reporting where these sightings have 
taken place would be inappropriate, but needless to say, the fascination with the
faceless woman continues. A few updated tales, most of them firsthand accounts, 
are included here.

(Written Source: B. Krauss, "Faceless Ghost")

MORE SIGHTINGS OF THE FACELESS GHOST AT THE WAIALAE DRIVE-IN

Back to Kwaidan.


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