Douryoudou Ato


 

Location: Yarimizu 401, Hachiouji-shi, Tokyo, 192-0375

From the Edo Period until the beginning of the Meiji Period there was a trade road connecting Yokohama to Kanagawa. Sellers sold their silk, and it came to be known as the Silk Road. One stopover on the way was called Douryoudou, a temple. Now nothing remains but the stone stairs and monuments, and the foundation stones of the temple.

Rumours of ghosts first started appearing near the end of the Showa Period. In 1963, an old nun working at the temple was killed by a thief. Her body was found at 5.20 am on the morning of September 10th, 1963. The room she was discovered in was covered in blood, and there was evidence of knife-like wounds in her throat and chest. A zabuton cushion was placed over her face and the room was in disarray. Police believed the motive for the crime to be the money she kept on the premises, which was missing. After the nun was killed, the temple became abandoned with no-one to run it. In 1983, the abandoned temple was set on fire and burned to the ground, becoming the Douryoudou Ato (Douryoudou Remains).

10 years after the nun’s murder, on September 6th, 1973, a family of four was found drowned on a beach in Izucho, Shizuoka Prefecture. The family’s personal items were found on a nearby rock wall, including a note indicating their suicide. The father of the family turned out to be a university professor, which sent the media into a frenzy. When the police investigated further, they discovered the horrific crime he had committed in life that led to his entire family’s suicide.

It was discovered that the professor had killed one of his own students, who he had been having an affair with. He buried her body near his holiday house in Hachiouji, close to Douryoudou, and by the time her body was found she had become mummified. Now, the holiday house was located a few kilometres away from Douryoudou, so strictly speaking, the incident had nothing to do with the area, but with the nun’s death 10 years earlier, the media were looking for a story they could sell, so they connected the murders and a legend began. The holiday house itself is now a Christian church.

Ever since these two incidents, rumours of ghosts in the area have flourished, and it has become one of the most famous ghost spots in the West Tokyo area. People say you can hear the old nun’s sobbing, and she often shows up in photos taken in the area as well. People have also mentioned they can hear footsteps that aren’t their own when walking around the area. The university student’s ghost appears quite frequently as well.

One of the stone statues on the grounds was also the basis for the famous ghost story “Kubinashi Jizo,” (Headless Jizo) although the head has been repaired since then. It’s said that the delinquents who originally trashed the statue arrived in a white car, so those who travel to the area in a white car will be cursed. Those who touch the statue may also be cursed. The area became so famous that to this day groups of troublemakers make their way to the site in an attempt to vandalise the Jizo statue.

But that’s not all. Douryoudou Ato is also famous for yet another urban legend, this time a yokai; Hitotsume Kozo, the one-eyed goblin. It’s said that every year on December 8th, the Hitotsume Kozo appears to wreak havoc on the nearby villages. People hang bamboo baskets in front of their house to protect themselves from him. Records of this custom can be found in Hachiouji folklore and also in official records from the Silk Road.

Yamaguchi Bintarou, an occult researcher, went to Douryoudou Ato on December 8th, 2014, to shed some more light on this Hitosume Kozo legend, but unfortunately never came across him. In fact, he discovered most people had never heard of the legend and not one house hung a bamboo basket out the front. The only evidence he discovered was from an old man, born in the Taisho Period, who told him that when he was a child, his family used to hang a bamboo basket out the front of their house.

 

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