Are These Halloween Urban Legends True? An Examination Of 6 Classics

jack-o-lantern

Happy Halloween, Gentle Readers!

You’ve probably already got your plans all set for tonight — even if it’s just staying in and watching a whole bunch of movies, listening to a ton of podcasts, playing a couple of games, or reading a good book — but let’s do a little something to mark the occasion while we’re here: Tell a few classic Halloween urban legends. Or perhaps more accurately, debunk a few classic Halloween urban legends, because honestly, urban legends aren’t interesting unless you’re digging into where they came from and whether or not they’ve got a kernel of truth buried in there somewhere.

In case you still need a few ideas for how to occupy your time tonight, here’s a list of things to do on Halloween — but why not kick it off by taking a look at a few of the tales below? I’m sure you’ve heard them before. So, which of them are actually true? You might be surprised.

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Are Taxi Drivers In Japan Really Picking Up The Ghosts Of The 2011 Tsunami? A Look At The Legend Of The Vanishing Hitchhiker

Taxis

An interesting little story has been circulating the Internet for the past couple of weeks: Apparently taxi drivers in Ishinomaki, Japan have reported picking up the ghosts of the victims of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I think there’s a lot of fascinating stuff to unpack here, so let’s take a look, shall we?

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Haunted Road Trip: The Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Stepp Cemetery, And The Lady in Black Of Bloomington, Indiana

Stepp cemetery

Previously: Mount Misery Road and Sweet Hollow Road.

In the Morgan-Monroe State Forest just north of Bloomington, Indiana, there lies a small cemetery. It’s not uncommon to find old burial grounds deep in the woods, or even in state forests; the Jennings State Forest in Florida, for example, has not one, not two, but four cemeteries within its nearly 24,000-acre grounds. But although cemeteries are often found in the forest, and although many cemeteries have at least one spooky story associated with them — I suspect it has something to do with our fundamental need to explain death to ourselves — you’d likely pass right by Stepp Cemetery if you didn’t know about it. Like the Jennings State Forest, Morgan-Monroe covers 24,000 acres, but Stepp Cemetery itself houses a mere 32 graves. Those 32 graves, though? They’re not quiet. In fact, according to the legends, they’re downright chatty.

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Unresolved: Who Was The Man From Taured — And Did He Even Exist At All?

globePreviously: Cabin 28 and the Keddie Murders.

The story of the Man from Taured is classified as unresolved for two reasons: First, because of the mystery itself; and second, because no one seems to know whether or not the whole thing really happened. Me? I’m inclined to think it’s a piece of fiction or an urban legend — but since the mystery persists, I think it’s worth taking a look at all the same. The story goes a little something like this:

On a particularly hot and humid day in 1954, a well-dressed, Caucasian man debarked from a plane that had just arrived from Europe at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Unremarkable in appearance, a man such as he wouldn’t normally have caused such a commotion; however, when he arrived at customs, things started to get… weird.

He told officials he was a businessman who traveled frequently; indeed, his wallet was full of currencies from a wide variety of countries in Europe, and he spoke both French and Japanese, among several other languages. He said that he was in Japan for business, and that this trip was his third to the country that year — but when asked for his passport, he presented a document from a place that simply didn’t exist. He was from Taured, he explained, a country located on the border between France and Spain; furthermore, the passport was full of stamps from both Japan and a number of other countries, seemingly supporting his tale of being a frequent flyer.

The customs officials were, to say the least, baffled. The man had extensive documentation concerning the details of his trip; however, when the officials called the company he said he was in Japan to meet with, the company said they had never heard of either the man or the company he claimed to represent. Furthermore, the hotel he said he would be staying at had no reservation under his name, and his bank — details of which were gleaned from his checkbook — also proved to be non-existent. And lastly, the coup de grace: When shown a map of the world and asked to locate Taured, the man pointed to Andorra, a microstate in the Pyrenees mountains bordered by — you guessed it — France and Spain. He was irritated that the map showed Andorra, not Taured, and said that someone must be playing a cruel joke on him.

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The Search Terms from the Black Lagoon: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Haunted Dolls, South American Larvae, and Other Queries Answered

abandoned computerPreviously: Ghost Babies and Jungle Splash.

It’s time for another addition of The Search Terms from the Black Lagoon, in which I attempt to figure out what you were trying to find when Google sent you to my weird little corner of the Internet. This time, we’re taking a look at memes, hoaxes, and the consequences of screwing up the Midnight Game. Here we go:

1. “Why you shouldn’t buy haunted dolls”

Uh… because they’re haunted? See: Robert the Doll.

2. “Blood vessel in hand urban legend”

This one has a lot of possibilities, but I think the most likely one is the old “is our blood actually blue until it hits the air?” question. Answer: Nope. According to Mental Floss, blood is always red, even when it’s in our veins. So why do our veins look blue when we’re just, y’know, looking at them through our hands? Because of how we perceive light and color — not because of what the color of the thing actually is. Check out more over at Mental Floss.

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Encyclopaedia of the Impossible: The Crystal Palace High Level Railway Station

Crystal Palace High LevelPreviously: The House on Ash Tree Lane.

Type: VT (Victim of Time)

Period/location of origin: 1865, London, the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Appearance: Subject appears to be a disused railway station on the west side of Crystal Palace Parade in the south London borough of Southwark. At its height of operation, it was an outstanding example of Victorian architecture; red and terra cotta brick walls supported a glass and iron train shed roof, with square towers topped with short spires marking each corner. Brick arches divided the station’s interior, and a passenger concourse above the tracks hosted refreshment rooms, waiting areas, and a booking office.

Subject has been closed to the public since 1954 and is now securely gated on both sides. The majority of the station was demolished in 1961; its only remains are the high retaining wall on the west side of Crystal Palace Parade, the vaulted subway beneath the road, and the concourse at the east end of the subway (now roofless). Bricked up entrances to the station be seen in the wall on the west side.

Modus operandi: Subject is notable for its connection with various rumors dating back to the 1930s. A story popular with local schoolchildren claims subject was shut down due to the presence of a commuter train trapped in the tunnels by a collapse. According to the story, the train was unable to be extracted; neither was it possible to retrieve its passengers. The station is said to have been walled up upon discovery that rescue was impossible, leaving scores of souls entombed in the collapsed tunnel. They are said to have remained there ever since.

An additional story claims that a woman found the collapsed tunnel in 1978 and saw within it an old railway carriage filled with skeletons clad in decaying Victorian dress. Attempts to relocate the tunnel were unsuccessful.

Both stories have yet to be confirmed, although the persistence of the rumors is somewhat troubling.

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Scare Yourself Silly: The Curious Case of the Himuro Mansion

Himuro mansionPreviously on Scare Yourself Silly: I Hate to Break It to You, But There’s Someone In Your House (And It’s Definitely Not You).

This post originally appeared on The Toast.

If you’re anything like me, you love a good ghost story—the weirder, the better. Have you heard this one yet?

In a forest just beyond the city of Tokyo, Japan, there is a house. It’s an impressive property, with several outbuildings surrounding the main living space and a wide expanse of land; but though it’s vacant, you won’t find it in any real estate listings. It’s known as the Himuro Mansion, and the things the walls of that house have seen are enough to keep any property hunter far, far away.

The Himuro Mansion said to have been the location of one of the most gruesome murders in Japanese history. Seven people were allegedly found murdered as part of an occult ritual gone wrong. Not that occult rituals can really ever said to go “right.” The ritual was allegedly intended as a method of keeping the evil of the world at bay; it involved raising a woman in secret to prevent her from forming any attachments to other people, then tying her limbs to oxen and essentially drawing and quartering her.

Sometime within the last 80 years, though, the young woman chosen for this “honor” managed to meet a young man and fall in love with him. Because she grew attached to someone, she was no longer viable for participation in the ritual; this means, of course, that the family responsible for carrying the whole thing out—the Himuro family—failed, dishonoring themselves in the process. The family’s patriarch then killed each member of the family with a traditional sword—probably a katana, though possibly a tanto or wakizashi—feeling that such a death was better than to suffer the evil they failed to stop.

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