In Aoyama prefecture at the foot of a mountain there was once a small village called Sugisawa. One day a man who lived there suddenly went crazy and killed everyone with a hatchet before killing himself. In the course of a single day the entire population of the village was wiped out.
What happened was so horrifying the local government then tried to hide what happened and erase all evidence that the village had ever existed. The village and its name were erased from maps and all official record of it was deleted. For over 50 years the village remained silent, no-one daring to go near it.
Now matter how much the government tries to conceal the truth they cannot erase it from the memories of the people. The old folk in the area continue to tell the story of Sugisawa to this day. You could say it’s an open secret amongst them.
According to legend there are three signs that reveal the path to Sugisawa:
1. There is a sign on the road leading to the village that says, “To those who enter there can be no guarantee for your life.”
2. There is an old, rotting shrine gate at the entrance of the village, beneath which lies a stone shaped like a human skull.
3. As you head into the village there is an old abandoned building, a former house where if you enter you will find the bloodstains telling of the tragic event that happened there.
One particular story about the village goes as follows:
One day two young men and a woman went for a drive deep in the mountains when they got lost and stumbled upon an old, beat up shrine gate. Beneath the gate there were two large stones, one of them shaped like a skull.
The young driver saw it and remembered a rumour he’d heard long ago. The rumour was that a skull found at the bottom of a shrine gate was a sign of the entrance to Sugisawa.
The two men got out of the car, however the young woman said to them, “I’m scared, let’s get out of here.” They decided to search the village however and all went in together.
About 100 metres after passing under the shrine gate they suddenly found a large open area before them with four old, abandoned buildings. The three of them stepped inside one of the buildings and inside they found a large amount of dried blood on the walls.
The two men felt a shiver run up their spines, and the woman suddenly cried out.
“Hey, there’s something strange about this place. I can feel a presence!”
The three of them fled the building in surprise, and as they did they felt like they were being surrounded by a large number of people.
The three of them ran for the car. However something was wrong. No matter how much they ran they couldn’t seem to reach the car.
From the open space to the car should have only been 100 metres, and it was a straight path so there’s no way they could have gotten lost. Even so, as the three of them kept running and running they couldn’t escape from Sugisawa.
Unawares the woman suddenly found herself separated from the two men, and as she kept running for what felt like forever she somehow finally found herself back at the car. Thankfully the keys were still in the ignition. She climbed into the driver’s seat to go and get help and turned the key to start the car.
However now matter how much she turned the key the car refused to start. On the verge of tears she kept turning the key, over and over, trying to get the car to go.
*don don don*
A large sound suddenly reverberated from the windscreen. She looked and noticed the windscreen was covered in bloody red handprints.
No, not just the windscreen. Countless bloody red handprints appeared on all the windows, as though they were all being beat upon at the same time.
The woman crouched down in fear, and before long she fainted…
The next morning one of the locals, out for a morning walk, stumbled upon the bloody car and the dumbfounded young woman inside. Her hair had turned white from fear overnight.
She was taken to the hospital where she explained her terrifying experience. Afterwards she disappeared and was never seen again. Her two male friends were also never found.
Sugisawa has also made it into various media. According to one rumour the famous author Yokomizo Seishi heard about the incident of Sugisawa and based his novel “Village of Eight Gravestones” on it. Novelist Morimura Seiichi also wrote a novel called “Never Give Up” which used the incident as inspiration for his story.
The events that take place in Minakami village in the video game Fatal Frame 2 are also said to have been inspired by Sugisawa. Both feature a massacre of an entire village that then disappears from the map. You can also find a game on both iPhone and Android called “Sugisawa-mura kara no dasshutsu” (Escape from Sugisawa Village), a free mystery/puzzle game.
The village was the focus of an episode of “Kiseki Taiken Unbelievable” in August 2000 where they tried to find the village. They concluded that the village “appears and disappears, existing in a distortion of space and time.” There’s also a movie based directly on the legend called “Sugisawa-mura Toshi Densetsu” (The Legend of Sugisawa Village) that was released in 2014. You can also find various videos on YouTube of people trying to locate the village.