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Ghosts & Hauntings

High Strangeness at a Haunted Japanese Schoolhouse

Up in the cold, northern reaches of Japan is the nation’s second largest island, Hokkaido. Known for its spectacular natural vistas and picturesque scenery, it is perhaps not a place one would at first associate in any way with haunted locales and ghouls and ghosts. Yet here in the rural town of Bibai, nestled among the beautiful vistas and right up against the Lake Miyajima wetland lies the creepy and enigmatic ruins of a former schoolhouse that has accrued a sinister reputation as one of the most haunted, weirdest places in Japan.

The building itself was apparently built back in 1906, and was designed in a distinctive round shape from which it earns its simple nickname “The Round Schoolhouse.” From the 1940s up until the 1970s it was used as an elementary school, after which it was closed for unknown reasons and simply left there where it stood to fall into ruin. Rather creepily, the structure seems to have been left as is, with tables and desks still set up collecting dust in the crumbling structure, all lined up as if expecting students that will never come. This would have once been a place of children playing and laughing, yet now the surrounding grounds have become a thick tangle of overgrown brush that hungrily surround the building, the playground buried in forest growth to poke forth like the skeleton of some half-buried prehistoric beast, and any road that led there was long devoured by the forest, making the only way to reach it on foot from the nearest road.

The Round Schoolhouse

Dark rumors and stories sprang up almost immediately after the closing of the school, beginning with locals claiming that the woods in the vicinity were haunted by bobbing, mysterious lights and half-glimpsed shadowy figures, and the night often pierced by disembodied screams as well as other less discernible anomalous noises. Additionally, there were rumors of several children who had gone out to play in these woods and never come back. It was not long before these phenomena and rumors were linked to the abandoned former school house, and things would get spookier still.

Through the late 70s and 80s the Round Schoolhouse became a popular place to go and try and see ghosts, and by all accounts it was absolutely infested with them. Frightened trespassers to the site would come back with terrifying tales of encountering all manner of supernatural phenomena on the school grounds or within its dilapidated building, and it has steadily become increasingly well-known on into later years as an absolute hotspot for the paranormal. Paranormal investigators who have been there consistently put this location in top ten lists of Japan’s most haunted places, and there have been Japanese spirit mediums who have been so overwhelmed with negative spiritual energy here that they refuse to come back. Japanese videos on YouTube of macabre adventure seekers in the ruins have also become quite popular, whether they show anything paranormal or not, and the legend of the haunted Round Schoolhouse of Bibai has surged.

Even above and beyond talk of hauntings, more sinister rumors tell of people going off to explore the ruins only to disappear without a trace, and stories abound of abandoned cars found on the nearby road, their occupants said to have gone off towards the schoolhouse to never return. Perhaps worse yet are those said to have come back completely stark raving insane, driven over the brink of madness by whatever it was they had seen in that forsaken place. Stories of the missing or of people going mad at the Round Schoolhouse are very persistent on Japanese paranormal sites, with comments of witnesses common.

While much of the information on the Round Schoolhouse is rather ambiguous and murky as to its veracity, there have been a few accounts that I have tracked down that seem particularly interesting. By far one of the oddest reports I have seen was of a group of three curiosity seekers who one day in 1998 went off to the ruins to poke around and seem to have gotten way more than they bargained for somewhere in the bowels of that old, darkened building. It started innocently enough, when the group of friends decided to make a trip out to the place after seeing one of the many videos of it on YouTube. They parked their car along the lonely road and began their trek through out the forest and its tangle of trees towards the main building.

Once there, the main witness claims that they were almost immediately overcome by a clinging, unsettling cold, and that they sensed that they were being watched from the shadows by an unseen force that seemed to creep along following them. This was followed by a series of escalating paranormal experiences, such as items being knocked over, doors slammed shut, and most frightening of all the startled shout of one of the friends when he was apparently aggressively shoved by some invisible entity. The longer they stayed, the more the intensity of these phenomena increased, until they got to the point where they had seen enough and made their way back outside. As they did, a black form allegedly congealed out of the shadows and followed them. The witness would say (translated by me):

That shadow stalked us all the way out of the building and into the woods. We couldn’t see it much as it was hiding, but we knew it was there. We could catch glimpses of it, and it made us pick up our pace. As we got closer to the car it became more visible, tangible, and more threatening. We finally got into the car and that was when something very black, large, and heavy slammed into us. It was as if a black bear had hit the car, but then it was gone without a trace, and we were alone in the forest again.

An even weirder account seems to suggest that there is some sort of vortex or inter-dimensional doorway within the Round Schoolhouse. This apparently happened as recently as 2000, and again involves a couple of amateur paranormal investigators, drawn to this location by all of the mysterious tales and creepy stories. Perhaps it was their mistake to come here in the evening hours, but whatever the reason they certainly came across something rather outlandish in that building.

Even as they made their way through the forest towards the schoolhouse they purportedly heard strange sounds coming from the trees, such as what sounded like someone banging on a tree with a stick, the sounds of someone snapping twigs, and what one of the witnesses swore was the sound of giggling. Things didn’t get any more normal when they reached their destination, and disembodied footsteps seemed to echo out all around them, but it was when they reached one particular room where things would take off into the truly bizarre. Here they came across a faintly glowing opening in the wall, which supposedly shimmered and rippled. The witness would say of what happened next (again my own translation):

We stared at this glowing patch upon the wall for several moments, and that was when something seemed to come out of it. It looked like a hunched over figure but it was impossible to see the face. Then there were others, coming out two at a time, until they were looming all around us in that dank confined space. My friend and I looked at each other and ran. He says he looked back and the glowing was gone, but those shapes. They were everywhere.

Unsettling to say the least, and it is not apparent what happened after that but they apparently made it out in one piece. One has to wonder just what these people saw. Was this some sort of portal? Was it all an illusion? Who knows? It does seem to fit into the idea floated around that this is a site that harbors some sort of doorway through dimensions, and that all of this is not a haunting, but rather a bleeding over of another realm into our reality. Indeed, the Round Schoolhouse has never had any particular tragedy or violent incident as far as anyone knows, so is this the result of something even stranger than ghosts? Or is this an urban legend orbited by creepy pasta tales and spooky stories? If you are ever in the vicinity of Bibai, Hokkaido, maybe you can go check it out for yourself, if you dare.

SOURCE: Mysterious Universe

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Hope Diamond Curse

The ice blue fire of the stone once shone like a star on the forehead of an Indian temple statue until the day when it was ruthlessly torn out by a French adventurer. He would pay a high price for his actions and would later die painful death.  The stone would become known as the Hope Diamond but what it brought most of its owners was despair.

While the Hope Diamond is regarded as the most beautiful and precious diamond in the world – at the same time it is to be the most dangerous. Since its theft from India a deadly curse is to live on within it. European kings, the richest woman in America as well as other owners all suffered terrible bad luck: They went bankrupt, were murdered, committed suicide or died in an accident.

This is the beginning of the dark story of a famous as well as notorious gemstone, which we know as Hope Diamond.

The Hope Diamond is believed to have come from the Kallur mine in the Golconda Region, on the river Kistna, in southwest India. In 1642 it appeared for the first time in Europe in the possession of a French merchant named Jean-Baptist Tavernier, who is said to have stolen it from the headband of the statue of the goddess Sita consort of the god Rama.

In 1668 he sold the stone – now known as the Tavinier Blue – for a significant amount to King Louis XIV of France.  The diamond was originally 115 carats but was recut in the western style resulting in a 69 karat masterpiece called the “French Blue” which became part of the French crown jewels.

Jean-Baptist Tavernier was not able to enjoy his profit and, in the process of try to save his son from debtor’s jail, he himself lost much of his fortune.  In the hope of making up for his loss, Tavernier traveled to India. It was here that the curse struck again and after he died of a raging fever his body was torn to bits by a pack of wild dogs.

The Sun King (Louis XIV) himself died horribly of gangrene caused by an infected wound and all of his legitimate children died in childhood, except for one. (Anne-Élisabeth, Marie-Anne and Louis-François all died before the age of two.)

Nicholas Fouquet, who worked for King Louis XIV, wore the gem to a special occasion and wound up spending 15 years in a prison at the fortress of Pignerol.

The diamond, on the other hand, was passed from one king to the next, and each of these kings suffered a tragic fate.

King Louis XV is said not to have much liked the gemstone and wore it rarely.  Nevertheless the curse caught up with him and he contracted a virulent form of smallpox that turned every inch of his skin into a blackened scab of blood.  His death was said to be excruciatingly painful.

King Louis XVI lost a large part of his empire and later fell out of favour with the people of France. Both he and Marie Antoinette wore the jewel and died on the Guillotine during the French revolution.

Princess de Lamballe was a courtier of Marie Antoinette and would often handle the Hope Diamond and the Order of the Golden Fleece.  She was killed by a mob during the revolution in a most horrific fashion including being stripped, raped, beaten, tortured and eventually disemboweled.

The cursed diamond disappeared after the royal storehouse (the Garde-Meuble) was robbed in 1792.

There is a strong suggestion that it may have found its way to Queen Maria Louisa of Spain around 1800.  The curse followed quickly and she lost popularity with the people of Spain becoming one of the most hated people in the land.  In 1808 she and her husband were forced into exile shortly before Napoleon invaded Spain.

One version of the legend claims that Napoleon Bonaparte himself took the jewel from the Spanish around 1809 and from the moment he owned it all his military campaigns turned sour leading to the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 and his ultimate defeat in 1813 when Paris fell to his enemies.  Napoleon would ultimately die as a prisoner on the island of St. Helena under mysterious circumstances after a horrible sickness – some say arsenic poisoning.  It’s been suggested that the stone was stolen from Napoleon’s treasury around 1810 and sold for a pittance to a string of middlemen.

The Hope Diamond seems to have resurfaced in the possession of a Dutch jeweler known as Wilhelm Fals sometime around 1810.   He drastically recut the diamond – possibly to disguise its origin.  The larger piece would later become known as the Hope Diamond.  This was soon stolen from him by his son Hendrik Fals who also murdered his fathered for good measure.  The legend states that Hendrik sold the stone to a French diamond merchant called Francis Beaulieu for a fraction of its value and used the money to live a life of sin and debauchery.  He was eventually driven mad by his own alcoholism, STD’s and guilt.  Hendrik Fals killed himself in 1830.

The size and style of the gem made it difficult to sell in France where it might still be linked to the robbery of the Garde-Meuble.  Together with an unknown French diamond cutter, Francis Beaulieu split off a small section of the stone and used this to fund a trip to London.  He struggled to find someone he trusted to buy the gem and became ever more impoverished, paranoid and physically wasted.  Eventually, he settled on Daniel Eliason a well-respected Hatton Garden jeweler.  He showed Eliason the stone and offered it for 5,000 pounds (around £200,000 today).  Eliason wanted time to think it over but when he went back the next day he found Francis Beaulieu dead on his bed.  The stone was clutched in Beaulieu’s hand but the young man was dead of starvation.  This was almost exactly 20 years after the robbery of the French Blue – just when the statute of limitations on the theft were expiring.

Some sources claim that Eliason sold the stone to King George III in 1814 where it became known as the ‘London Blue’.  If this is true it was bad luck for King George III.  His compulsive and unexplained madness returned and he was dead by 1820.  Some say the stone passed to King George IV who kept it for ten years until 1830.  During this time he became an alcoholic, possibly addicted to a heroin type drug called laudanum, so obese his cloths no longer fitted, partially blind from cataracts, mentally unstable and plagued by gout.

The stone eventually passed into the ownership of the rich banker Henry Philip Hope for £18,000.  Some believe it was sold off by George VI’s mistress, Lady Conyngham.  One version goes that George had left all his jewels to her in his will but for some reason she refused to take them.  Perhaps she had heard of the   curse and no longer wanted it anywhere near her. (She also needed money to pay off some of the King’s debts) Some versions of the story claim that Eliason himself went mad later but there is no hard evidence for this. The stone was later revalued at £30,000.  From this point on the stone would be known as the Hope Diamond.  Not surprisingly, while Henry Hope owned the diamond he suffered a long series of misfortunes, including the death of his only son.

In 1887 his grandson, Lord Francis Hope, inherited the cursed diamond. He spent almost all of his fortune on his extravagant and reckless lifestyle and had to sell the diamond in 1901 to Adolf Weil of Hatton Garden to pay off gambling debts. He also lost his foot in a hunting accident and his wife cheated on him.  He later died as a poor man.

While he owned the diamond he became infatuated with an American actress May Yohé who he later married.  May didn’t like the diamond and claimed it exuded an evil spell on people.  She blamed the diamond for corrupting her and driving her to have the affair that ended in her divorce from Lord Francis.   She is said to have died poverty stricken after the failure of an early film about the Hope Diamond Mystery (1921) and its now well-known curse.  There have been some suggestions that Yohé might have tried to kill her second husband – Captain John Smuts.

It passed on to Jaques Colot, a broker who struggled to sell it on.  The worry of his investment took the pleasure out of his life and even after he did sell it he declined into madness when he found out he would not receive full payment for the gem.  He finally committed suicide.

Replica of the original Tavinier Blue Diamond
The Hope Diamond set in the French Golden Fleece.
French Blue Diamond converted to Hope Diamond
The Cursed Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian Museum

In 1902 Jaques Colot sold the Hope Diamond to Ivan Kanitowsky, a Russian prince.  In 1908 Kanitowsky then gave it (loaned it) to the celebrated actress Mademoiselle Lorens Ladue of the Folies Bergère in Paris. The first time she wore the stone on stage she was shot by a man in the audience some people claim was an ex-lover.  Some versions of the story claim that it was Kanitowsky himself that pulled the trigger.  Some weeks later the prince himself was stabbed to death as he walked along a Parisian street.  The work some believe of Russian revolutionary agitators.

During late 1908, a well-known Greek jewel broker by the name of Simon Maoncharides acquired the stone.  History, as always, is uncertain but it appears that he sold it to Habib Bey – a Persian diamond merchant.  On the night that the deal was concluded, Maoncharides accidentally drove his carriage over a precipice, killing himself, his wife and child.

Habib Bey quickly sold the stone to Salomon Habib who was acting on behalf of Abdul Hamid II, the Sultan of Turkey. Within months Habib Bey drowned during the sinking of a French steamer in 1909.

Abdul (The Damned) paid $400,000 and gave it Salma Zubayaba (Zubaidah) his favourite concubine with orders that it be protected by Kulub Bey, his favourite eunuch and guardian of the Sultan’s treasures.   Mere months afterwards, while Kulub Bey was distracted Jehver Agha, a low official in the treasury, stabbed and killed Zubayda and tried to steal the jewel.  He was caught by Kulub Bey and hanged after being tortured.  Abu Sabir, the man who had polished the stone for Sultan was unfairly accused of working with Jehver Agha and was tortured and executed. Shortly after this incident Abdul Hamid II was overthrown during the Young Turks Rebellion of 27 April 1909.  He was later captured and imprisoned at Beylerbeyi Palace in the Bosphorus.  Legend has it that Kulub Bey was captured by a mob after the uprising and slowly strangled to death.

The Hope Diamond vanishes from history for a while until it appears in the hands of Pierre Cartier of the famous Cartier Jewelers family.  On 28 January 1911 he sold it to Edward B. McLean on behalf of his wife Evalyn who became owner of the diamond and mocked the curse joking that things that brought other people bad luck brought her good luck. Perhaps Edward wasn’t convinced though as the original contract with Cartier did include a clause stating: Should any fatality occur to the family of Edward B. McLean within six months, the said Hope Diamond is agreed to be exchanged for jewelry of equal value”.

Well, Evalyn may have joked about the Hope Diamond but it didn’t care.  Shortly after she acquired it her mother-in-law died.  Her eldest son, Vinson, often referred to as the Billion Dollar Baby, ran in front of a car and was killed. He was only nine.  Edward McLean went off with another woman and even claimed to have married her although he hadn’t.   Evalyn continued to spend money recklessly as did Edward who eventually wound up in a mental asylum where he died from brain atrophy brought on by alcoholism.  Aged only 25, Evalyn’s only daughter died from a drug overdose.  Debts eventually forced her to sell the Washington Post.  Aged just 60, she died of pneumonia soon after her daughter and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington D.C. Evalyn’s grandson Lt. Ronald Walsh McLean was killed during the Vietnam War while leading a five man recon in Quảng Trị Province.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II
Evalyn Walsh McLean

Harry Winston, a New York diamond merchant, bought the gem in 1949.  He exhibited it around the world but in 1958 he was persuaded to donate it to the Smithsonian Museum, where it has resided to this day.

The curse wasn’t quite finished yet.  James Todd, the mailman who took the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian later crushed his leg in a truck accident, injured his head in an automobile accident and then lost his home in a fire.

There is only one person who has been spared the “curse” of the diamond – the American jeweler Harry Winston. After buying the diamond, he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution who still possess the diamond to this day.

Is this all just coincidence or is the Hope Diamond actually cursed?   Some researchers dispute many of the facts in the story such as the fact that Marie Antoinette may never have actually worn the jewel and that Tavinier may have lived a long and prosperous life.  Still there is no denying that people associated with the stone – even if they weren’t the owners – have had uncommonly bad luck.

The Cursed Hope Diamond of India
Footnote: This is the legend of the Hope Diamond and its curse.  Please note that many researchers and authors disagree with this version of events and claim that the entire story of misfortune was probably made up by Pierre Cartier and later May Yohe.  Cartier wanted to sell the gem and need a fantastical back-story while Yohe was trying to promote the film about the diamond that she co-wrote. For a very detailed and less sensationalist version of what really happened please read the book – ‘Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem’ by Richard Kurin.

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Abraham Lincoln Ghost Photograph

Abraham Lincoln White House Ghost Photograph

During 1950, major renovation work was carried out at the White House in the Capital of the USA – Washington DC. Abbie Rowe, the official photographer of the presidential residence, wished to immortalize this period.

One of the photographs has attracted a very special interest and even been featured in a range of international newspapers. It was originally published in 1992 and is said to have received the Pulitzer Prize. However, it was only in 2008 that a strange translucent silhouette was noticed in the background.

It is possible that Abbie Rowe inserted the image while developing the negative.  However, there is no evidence whatsoever that this happened.  The general agreement is that the images shown are the originals and can be seen in their initial form on the Abie Rowe website.

Original Abe Rowe Image of the White House Renovations

PHOTO ENHANCEMENT

With the exception of the original image, all the others have been enhanced by processing the brightness, contrast and shadows of the images to create slightly clearer images of the figure referred to as Lincoln’s ghost. Specifically, the image was brightened and then adjusted by increasing the contrast. The ‘curves’ tool was used to focus the density of the image and create clarity of depth. Shadows were darkened and the entire image was sharpened using both the unsharp mask tool and the smart sharp tool. Essentially the images are the same just clearer to see.

Specialists of paranormal phenomena believe that this is the irrefutable proof of a ghost. It is difficult to investigate the actual negatives as they have mysteriously vanished.  According to some researchers, they have been classified and will not be released for a further 50 years.  If this is so then the reasons for this decisions remain very unclear.

However, it is important to note that the photographer did not use a long exposure time: the shot was taken in broad daylight on a site that was also illuminated by work lamps. The mysterious form appears fixed and immobile, so investigators believe it cannot be a residual image.

Ghost hunter Joshua P Warren is said to have stated that it was the “most amazing ghost picture” he’d ever seen.  He went on to explain that there is a legend that the White House is allegedly haunted by the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln who was assassinated in 1865 at Ford’s Theatre.

The image of the figure is looking towards Ford’s Theatre which is precisely 1000 metres to the East of where the photo was taken.  Is it then just a coincidence that the ghostly figure is located directly under the section of the White House where Lincoln had his bedroom?

In the images above you can clearly see that the image is a man with a beard and a distinctly erect posture.  He apppears shorter than he is because the image has been taken from a high angle.  In actual fact, the figure is tall and slender.

Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Roosevelt often used the Lincoln Bedroom as her study.  She claimed that she would feel his presence when she worked there late into night.

Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, who visited the White House on several occasions during World War II, told a tale of emerging naked from his evening bath only to find a ghostly Lincoln sitting by the fireplace in his room.

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Ghostly Apparition Appears From Nowhere Only To Vanish Into Thin Air (Video)

In this footage we can see this figure just materialise on the left of the screen and just casually walking but we can see it slowly dissolving into the night.
This footage was caught by security officer Francisco Javier from the surveillance camera at his work in a warehouse in Metepec, Mexico.

Source: The Hidden Underbelly 2.0

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