Despite being a comparatively small island with a large population, there are still large swathes of Japan that are mostly untouched by civilisation, and you can find all sorts of tiny villages dotting the countryside, some abandoned, some still fully functioning. It’s this phenomenon that has led to the rise of “villages that shouldn’t exist.” Phantom villages that exist only in stories told to scare both children and adults alike.
Or at least, they’re supposed to be just stories. Do these villages actually exist somewhere out there, waiting to claim more victims? Let’s take a look at a few and where you might find them.
One of the most famous phantom villages of all; Inunaki. The entire Inunaki area is said to be haunted, from the mountain pass to the tunnel to the village that may or may not exist anymore. I’ve written an entire article on whether this location actually exists or not, which you can check out here.
If any village could challenge Inunaki on name power alone, it would be Sugisawa. That phantom village said to exist somewhere deep inside Aomori Prefecture. To find it, you must first come across a sign that warns you there is no guarantee on your safety once you pass it.
Then you must find a rotted shrine gate with a stone at the bottom shaped like a skull. Once you pass through it, you’ll find all sorts of abandoned houses surrounding an open area. If you see that, congratulations, you’ve found Sugisawa! Site of a brutal massacre that saw one man kill the entire village in a single night.
This village is based on the real life massacre that took place in Tsuyama, Okayama Prefecture in 1938. It doesn’t actually exist, of course, but many claim that it does… it just exists between our world and the next, appearing and disappearing at will. If you, by any chance, happen to stumble across that sign in the woods some day, probably best to turn around and not look back.
A companion to Kamitashima Village (Shimo meaning lower and Kami meaning upper), this village sprang to life thanks to a creepy story on 2chan back in 2008. According to the poster, he used to live here four years earlier. As the village names suggested, Shimotashima was considered a buraku, a village full of undesirables. It was extremely insular and no outsiders were ever allowed in.
Apparently, the scariest aspect of this village, however, was the high number of suicides. Seemingly daily someone would kill themselves, most often hanging themselves from one of the telephone poles in the village.
While this village doesn’t actually exist, many claim it was likely based off the real Shimotashima and Kamitashima villages in Miyazaki Prefecture. The names use a different kanji for “ta” and don’t otherwise resemble the story in any way, but it’s possible the poster was from the area and used those names as inspiration.
Dubbed “the village you must not enter,” it’s unknown where this village is supposed to exist, for it’s listed on no map. It’s said to be so small that all the villagers share in only three different last names, and all they have is a post office and small general store.
It’s also said that around the Obon season, a truck can be seen leaving flowers on the doorstep of each house in the village. There is a graveyard behind the village where everyone is buried once they die, and the remaining family members use these flowers to pay their respects.
People also claim that if you do happen to find Ikezoe, however, once you step foot inside the village, that’s it. You are doomed to die. Perhaps not immediately, but sometime within the next few years you’ll meet your grizzly fate. Thus, it’s the village that you must not enter.
This forebodingly named village is said to exist in Mie Prefecture, and we even have a photo from it!
You might be wondering why it has such a strange English name. Supposedly because once you enter, you’ll get lost and never be able to leave again. And as for finding it, that’s random too. It’s said to suddenly appear while you’re driving around, so if you happen upon it… your luck has run out.
The above-mentioned photo was taken by folklorist Yamaguchi Bintaro when he supposedly visited the village with a television crew. Of course, considering they all returned, it’s hard to say they visited the real village, but it makes for a good story after all!
And there you have it. These are some of the more common phantom villages, but there are plenty more lurking out there, especially on the 2chan forums where they’d have you believe everything is haunted and/or cursed…