Investigating the Paranormal Realm

The Tale of the Different Shadow

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi's Ghost of Okiku

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s Ghost of Okiku

This story was shared to me by my friend who lived in Japan. When he was young many teenagers committed suicide. Many say that is because of failure to enter a reputable school but some say it is because these students where pulled by a strange entity to end their own life.

My friend was an outsider in Japan, a gaijin as the locals would say or a foreigner. He was excluded by the other students all the time. Being an outsider also gave him some benefits. He was able to observe his classmates from a safe distance. Most of the time the other students were quiet and disciplined in school. Some of them even went to cram school to get better results in the entrance examinations. Most wanted to go the famous Tokyo University or Kyoto University. Sometimes my friend who we will call Tomo, who is a half Japanese and half Canadian, would see classmates laughing and having fun. They acted like normal students. But deep inside Tomo, he felt that there was something peculiar happening to some of his school mates.

One day, as Tomo was walking home he heard a girl crying and struggling. So he tried to look for where the sound of cry was coming from. It was dusk and the street lamps just lit up. He saw the girl beside a big tree in the empty parking lot of his school. She seemed like being pulled by an invisible force. She was crying quietly and incorrectly. She seemed to be struggling to break free from something. But Tomo could not see it very well. Then he saw the girl’s face. The look in her face froze Tomo completely. Her eyes were glassy and blank. She looked like a frozen doll. Her lips were closed but she was trying to move them as if begging for help. She clutched her neck as if trying to pry something off of it. Then Tomo saw under the bright street lamp, a shadow. The shadow did not look much different from what the girl’s shadow should look like but it did now seem right. Instead of showing the exact form of the girl, the shadow seemed to be skewed. And then Tomo saw it, the shadow had long bird like fingers with talons at the ends, grabbing the girls neck from behind. Suddenly Tomo snapped out of his reverie and tried to help the girl. When he was inches away from her she suddenly collapsed. Tomo caught her. She breathed fast and shallow. Suddenly her eyes opened and was shocked to see Tomo. She looked at her hands. They had a little blood in them. She glanced at Tomo and suddenly ran away. Tomo sat there, puzzled and scared. He had cold sweat running down his face. He could not understand what happened.

The next few days Tomo looked for the girl in school. He could not find her. He did not have any friends in school so he could not tell anyone what had happened. At night he could not sleep. He feared for whatever happened this girl. He could not forget that strange look on her face; a twisted eerie blankness that took hold of her. Tomo could not concentrate in school anymore.


One Saturday afternoon Tomo and his mother went out to go shopping for groceries. As they were about to go home Tomo felt weird again he could not understand why. He stood on the train flat form all frozen. Then suddenly he saw the same girl. She was wearing her school uniform. She looked at Tomo. She smiled. Suddenly the expression on her face changed. She looked at the incoming train. Tomo ran towards her but she already jumped. Tomo froze. He couldn’t stop her. He was not fast enough. People screamed around him but he did not hear any of it. All he could think about was he was about a split second away from saving her. His mother ran to him and pulled him away from the crowd and hurriedly dragged him away from the platform and all the people in there.

They took a cab home. Tomo went to his room all dazed. He could not eat or sleep for days. His mother was very worried about him. She talked to his father. He heard them talking about going back to Canada. Tomo snapped out of his confused state. He needed to know why it all happened.

He tried to be brave and asked some of his classmates if anyone noticed this girl and anything weird around school. At first no one would talk to him. He was the outsider. Finally, one day as Tomo ate his bento box in the school canteen a gangly looking boy sat down across him. He introduced himself. He was the girl’s brother. He did not tell Tomo his name. He just sat there and then suddenly said “Did you see it too? The shadow of my sister?” Tomo was shocked he did not know what to say. The boy just stared at his hands for a few minutes and then told Tomo everything he knew. He said that his sister was not the first one to have had a shadow. He has heard of other students who have had them as well. But no one really wants to talk about it. He said that the shadow started appearing after his sister came back from an old bookstore and brought home with her a comic book that had some weird drawings on it. The younger brother said that he was not bothered by it at first because he said that most Japanese comic books are full of weird stuff. He said that his sister started acting strange after reading it. She would sleep walk at night and would act violently suddenly.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi's portrait of Oiwa.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s portrait of Oiwa.

Tomo was scared. He had just been to that bookstore and he also got a weird looking manga. He went home and burned it. He said that after that he went to his mom and said that he really wanted to go back to Canada.

Tomo is now a grown up and works in a bank here in Vienna. He has visited Japan several times but has never bought another comic book. He sometimes dreams of that shadow with long fingers and talon like nails.

The End.

See our page on Japanese Ghosts or Read more Japanese Ghost Stories here