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.
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
Guitar store CCTV captures ghostly activity
Image Credit: YouTube / GAK
A still from the footage (can be viewed below).
A store selling musical instruments in Brighton, UK has been gaining something of a haunted reputation.
The mysterious occurrences began at the Guitar, Amp and Keyboard store (or GAK) last month and culminated in an incident that happened just a few weeks ago in the early hours of the morning.
The store owners became aware that something was amiss when the motion alarm was triggered at around 5am despite there being no indication of a break-in.
After checking the CCTV footage, they noticed that two of the guitars hanging up in the store had started to swing on their own even though the other guitars next to them had remained still.
Around 30 minutes later, a price tag was also mysteriously ripped from one of the shelves.
“Some say it could be the guitars re-adjusting themselves after they were hanged incorrectly, but there is no wind there and it’s not near any draft or ventilation so there aren’t many suggestions,” the owners told The Daily Star.
“Staff think it’s odd and a bit creepy but it hasn’t affected anyone coming in.”
You can view the CCTV footage for yourself below.
Apparitions Are Intelligent Ghosts
Parapsychologists have classified different types of apparitions based on documented witnesses’ accounts. Experiences with these entities support survival theory.
The most popular collective generic term for parapsychological phenomena is “ghosts.” Scientific investigators of “ghostly” occurrences have found activity can be attributed to one of the following phenomena.
Poltergeists are created by psychokinesis (PK), the ability of the mind to influence matter. The most common phenomena are rappings and other sounds, objects moving and electronics and electrical equipment being affected. There can be fires, water appearing or writings on walls, but these activities are rare. The agent can be a human or an entity.
Hauntings can be seen, heard, felt by touch, smelled, tasted and sensed. There is no intelligence. This is theorized to be energy imprinted on time and space.
The difference between hauntings and apparitions is that the latter have intelligence. According to survival theory, these are that part of the human which survives the death of the physical body. They can appear to experients while they are awake, sleep or in an altered state of consciousness.
Classifications of Apparitions
The Dead: Usually they appear to someone who was close to them in life and try to communicate information or comfort in times of grief or sadness. James L. Chaffin in the Chaffin Will Case: Apparition’s Appearance Prevented North … appeared to his son to tell him where his new will was.
Crisis: Their purpose is to convey that fact that they are in severe trauma. Most are dying or have just died. Admiral’s Ghost Tells his Death is an example of this. Vice Admiral George Tyron visited his wife’s tea party in London while he was dying or had died in a shipwreck off of the coast of Syria.
Collective: These are seen by more than one person, as in the case of Admiral Tyron. Sometimes apparitions can be animals. Three women saw Fluffy, a cat’s apparition rush into the room. Kitty, the living cat, wasn’t in the house at the time, but when he came inside and was put into the kitchen, he immediately reacted to Fluffy’s presence. Animal Psychic Phenomena describes the incident.
Deathbed: When some are dying, they see loved ones, angels or holy beings shortly before the moment of death. A man was dying and, several hours before he did, saw his Uncle Charlie and spoke with him until he died. This has also been reported in NDEs, near death experiences.
Reciprocal: These are apparitions of the living when both the experient and agent are aware of each other. The agent feels transported to where the percipient is. This may be experienced by more than one observer. Mrs. Wilmot was the agent in An Apparition of the Living.
Theories About Apparitions
Survival: What the experient witnessed was a spirit of the dead with intelligence.
Misperception: The experience was due to mistakenly experiencing that which are distortions caused by the physical environment, such as dim light, or by emotional influences.
Hallucinations: These are defined as perceiving something without a stimulus. It is one of the criteria for schizophrenia, although it can happen in other psychiatric disorders. There are physical conditions and substances that can induce hallucinations.
When investigating cases of alleged apparitions, it’s of utmost importance to take all theories into consideration, not to discount the possibility of a hoax or fraud and that accounts are mostly subjective.
Horror movies love a haunted doll. So do collectors.
Thirty years ago, the world was introduced to a 29-inch-tall doll in overalls named Chucky. With eyes bluer than a White Walker’s, hair more fiery than Ed Sheeran’s, and a smattering of freckles à la Emma Stone, he looked like the perfect childhood buddy.
Unfortunately, Chucky, the tiny antagonist of the 1988 movie Child’s Play, was possessed by a serial killer with a knack for slaughtering people with butcher knives, yo-yo strings, and anything else he could find around the house. Today, almost everyone knows that if a wild-eyed doll asks, “Wanna play?” the only acceptable response is to run as fast and far as you can.
Then there are people like Kevin Cain, a paranormal investigator in Alabama who owns hundreds of haunted dolls and other items. “I lost count a long time ago,” he says. While Cain may be an especially prolific collector, he’s far from the only one. In fact, there is a thriving marketplace for haunted dolls on the internet.
According to Cain, things really took off after the Annabelle doll appeared in The Conjuring (2013), followed by a solo film, Annabelle: Creation (2017). Annabelle, a vintage porcelain doll with smeared lipstick, a cracked pupil, and claw marks on her face, is possessed by a demonic spirit that enjoys ruthlessly murdering people. That she’s based on a real-life haunted Raggedy Ann doll adds to the intrigue.
With the next installment of the Conjuring series, Annabelle Comes Home, and a reboot of Child’s Play both hitting theaters in late June, there’s sure to be a new wave of people curious about haunted dolls — and perhaps even eager to get their hands on one.
Gone are the days when you’d have to trek to a shady part of town, down a darkened alley, and into a questionable-looking antiques shop to get your haunted doll fix (although if you’re ever in New Orleans, Bloody Mary’s Haunted Museum and Spirit Shop is worth a visit). Etsy and eBay list thousands of dolls purportedly inhabited by everything from evil witches to judgmental spirits that might call you fat to young children and fairy spirits.
Most haunted dolls sell for around $50 plus shipping, but the most highly prized ones are priced well into the four figures. There’s a formula, too, for how they’re sold: Each listing contains a detailed overview of the spirit’s life story, details of said spirit’s death, and a description of their personality. Dolls are labeled “active” or “highly active” if paranormal phenomena are said to occur frequently in their vicinity.
Some are advertised as being able to move objects, make noises, or communicate via telepathy or Ouija board, while others are meant to act as creative muses, play matchmaker by revealing potential lovers in dreams, or emit positive energy.
Kat Blowers, whose Etsy shop FugitiveKatCreations specializes in haunted dolls, says best-sellers tend to be inhabited by female spirits that have some sort of “empowerment” angle. “We have a lot of goddess-type spirits or women who have survived terrible situations and thrived.” She also sees high demand for witches around Halloween and leprechauns near St. Patrick’s Day.
Best-sellers tend to be inhabited by female spirits that have some sort of “empowerment”
While there are con artists looking to take advantage of uneducated buyers, many haunted item purveyors hold themselves to what they see as high ethical and scientific standards. “It costs us a fortune in tools,” says Blowers. Whenever she acquires a new doll, Blowers and her husband put it through an intense investigation that lasts one to three months.
First, the doll is separated from any other paranormal objects in the house. Then it’s examined with a K-II EMF meter, a device used by paranormal investigators to detect electromagnetic energy, for a period of three to five days. Blowers then places the doll in a sound box (“basically a foam box”), with a voice-activated recorder to see if she can hear any words or phrases. “We’ve heard music before, which is really weird,” she tells me.
Finally, they conduct lucid dreaming sessions, which involve sleeping next to the doll alongside a piece of amethyst (which is supposed to be a potent lucid dreaming crystal) to see if they have any weird dreams. Blowers typically ends up with a 15-page report by the end of each investigation.
Unlike in horror films, real-life haunted dolls aren’t necessarily bloodthirsty beings with a penchant for sharp objects. “Not everything is evil,” says Cain. “Yes, there are demons, and Annabelle is example number one of that, but also good spirits. If a ghost can haunt a house or building or ship, why can’t it just hang around an item it once owned or reminds them of something in their past?” He theorizes that spirits like to hang around dolls and other toys because of their familiarity and strong emotional connection.
However, this doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t beware. Cain routinely refuses people who email begging to purchase one of his haunted dolls. “I tell them it’s not for everybody. You don’t know what you’re asking for,” he says. “These dolls aren’t for entertainment or fun. These are actual haunted items with spirits attached who want to be respected. Then you have those who, if you’re not careful, are demonic and ready to tear into your soul.”
He describes an episode where a young woman bought a doll online that was supposed to be haunted by a kind, positive spirit, but she ended up with something dark and malevolent. After a string of strange occurrences culminating in feeling tiny hands around her neck one night, she contacted Cain and shipped the doll off to him. Luckily, he knew how to bind the demonic spirit, ultimately sealing the doll in a box coated in holy water and storing it on the highest shelf in his home, where it remains.
Demons aside, selling haunted dolls online comes with some technical challenges. For one thing, eBay isn’t too keen on the whole concept and has a policy that specifically forbids the selling of souls. According to a statement from the company back in 2000, “eBay does not allow the auctioning of human souls for the following reasons: If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist then, in accordance with eBay’s policy on human parts and remains, we would not allow the auctioning of human souls.” In 2012, eBay further banned metaphysical items including spells, hexes, potions, and magical services.
Some sellers found creative workarounds, including winking claims that their dolls are “for entertainment purposes only” or “sold as is.” They also often state there’s no guarantee of paranormal activity and indemnify themselves from the consequences of anything that does or doesn’t happen. Others, deterred by eBay’s crackdown, simply packed up and moved to Etsy.
The haunted doll market certainly isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Cain expects there’ll be a huge surge in demand this summer thanks to Annabelle and Chucky’s big-screen appearances — something he’s not particularly thrilled about. For anyone considering a haunted doll purchase, he has one message: “Be careful what you buy. It may be phony — or, worse yet, it may be something demonic.”
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