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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

Haunted doll attacked man after becoming possessed

A woman claims that her creepy doll was so jealous of her boyfriend that it beat him up so badly that he left her.

Identified only be her first name Berliz, from Callao in Peru, she said the doll named ‘Deisy’ even slashed her face in a rage, making her scared to get rid of it.

Berliz said that the doll can move by itself and also gets up to mischief, making it seem as if other people are walking around the house.

She also claims it has poltergeist-like powers which it uses to knock things over.

Berliz told local media that her mother gave her the creepy doll as a Christmas present, but then it suddenly lost its hair one day after which she decided to put it in a plastic bag.

The doll Deisy is said to have attacked Berliz’s boyfriend so badly, that he left her (Image: CEN/Latina Entretenimiento)

Berliz said she decided to place it facing the wall, however, when she woke up she saw that the doll had turned its head and was looking at her.

And there are apparently other bizarre occurrences as well.

She said: “One day, a bright light suddenly shone and my bible fell down from the TV. I started to cry and the light turned off and I saw shadows all around me.

“I was only 18, and my dad hugged me and when the light came on my face was covered with cuts.”

She claims that the doll forced her boyfriend to leave her because it “grabbed and beat him” while he was sleeping.

Daisy, the doll answering to questions (Image: CEN/Latina Entretenimiento)

Berliz said that the same thing happened to her cousin, who went to have a lie down in her room but also ran out after allegedly being attacked by the doll.

The young Peruvian, who is now a mother, has decided to keep the doll away from the house in case something bad happens to her baby.

She also decided to get a black cat to “balance” the negative energy left by the doll, but is too scared to throw it away.

According to the distressed woman, a clairvoyant told her that cats are very sensitive to energy as Berliz’s feline tends to stay under the chair where the doll was kept rather than lying in front of it.

The chilling doll is reminiscent of the Charles Lee ‘Chucky’ Ray character who is the main villain of the ‘Child’s Play’ slasher film series.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/

 

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Ghosts & Hauntings

The Haunted Dance

When Elena discovers a video online of a 1920s vaudeville dancer doing a curious dance called “The Rizzle,” she soon regrets accepting the challenge to learn it. The Rizzle is a short horror film created by director Josh Tanner for the Huluween Film Fest.

“I have been infatuated by the 1920s for quite some time and a little haunted by the music, fashion and video and sound recording aesthetics,” Tanner says, “that I couldn’t help but be inspired when I had an opportunity to make a new short.”

About the Huluween Film Fest:

Hulu’s hosting our first ever Film Fest competition with 8 up-and-coming filmmakers making spooky shorts that you can watch right here! The short with the most views as well as a vote from a surprise celebrity judge will win 10k and will be featured on all Hulu social media on October 31st. Watch if you dare!

Tanner also created another favorite of mine: The Landing.

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Ghosts & Hauntings

Digging up weird history in Milwaukee’s oldest cemeteries

The “man they couldn’t hang,” a priest’s lonely crypt, the Midwest’s first crematorium, and other strange bits of history can be found in Milwaukee’s historic cemeteries.

Obligatory mausoleum vault window selfie. That’s a thing, right?

To celebrate the first day of fall, I embarked on an expedition to a couple of my favorite cemeteries for the annual Doors Open Milwaukee event. Thankfully, the equinox also brought with it the first hint of crisp autumn air, so I threw on my new Dead Sled hoodie and set off on a journey into Milwaukee’s Great Beyond.

The destination?

The two oldest cemeteries, where the city’s founders, early mayors, industrialists, and other prominent historical figures are interred. During Doors Open Milwaukee, both cemeteries allow visitors a glimpse into areas that are otherwise closed to the public. Among other things, that means an opportunity to peek into the Midwest’s first crematorium, as well as a large underground crypt where only one priest was entombed before it was closed.

My first stop was:

Forest Home Cemetery


The mausoleum of Milwaukee beer baron Valentin Blatz

Milwaukee’s early burials, one guide explained, took place either on private land in family graveyards or in fields among herds of cattle. When the first forested acres of land were bought for the city’s first actual cemetery in 1850, many of those remains were moved to what would become Forest Home Cemetery.

Before the cemetery, the land was dotted with more than 60 Paleo-Indian burial and effigy mounds which were all catalogued by pioneer scientist Increase A. Lapham. None of those mounds remain today, but Lapham is now one of the cemetery’s notable residents.

Others worth mentioning are the founders of Harley Davidson, Milwaukee Beer Barons Jacob Best, Frederick Pabst, and Valentin Blatz, as well as a cenotaph for Joseph Schlitz, who was lost at sea when the ship he was headed to Germany on sank in 1875 near Cornwall, England.

The Man They Couldn’t Hang

The grave of John
The grave of John “Babbacombe” Lee

The one grave in particular I was hoping to find this visit was that of a man named John Henry George Lee who was born in Abbotskerswell, Devon, England in 1864. He is also known as John “Babbacombe” Lee, or “The Man They Couldn’t Hang.”

Lee was sentenced to death after being convicted of the brutal 1884 murder of an elderly woman named Emma Keyse at her home in England’s Babbacombe Bay. On February 23, 1885, Lee was brought to the gallows to be hanged at Exeter Prison. He stood on the scaffold with the noose securely around his neck, but the trapdoor through which he was supposed to drop failed to open. Lee was brought down and the executioner examined it. He couldn’t find anything wrong. The trapdoor was tested and seemed to work fine. So Lee was brought back up and the rope placed around his neck again. But again, the trapdoor failed. And again. After the third time the medical officer attending the execution refused to take part in the proceedings. The execution was halted, and Lee’s sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Lee was released in 1907, but what happened to him after that was something of a mystery. It seemed as though he died in a workhouse in Tavistock and was buried there. He has a death certificate and a grave there in Plymouth Road cemetery. However, in 2009 two researchers discovered a trail of documents revealing Lee boarded a ship in Southhampton in 1911 bound for New York. He abandoned his pregnant wife with their other child, arriving in the US with a woman named Adeline Gibbs. Adeline, it seems, was fleeing her recent marriage to a man named William Jones, and was listed as Lee’s wife Jessie Lee on the ship’s manifest.


Burial card and plot map showing the graves of John Lee and his family

The convicted killer and his mistress came to Milwaukee, where they lived out their secret, anonymous lives. They had a daughter together named Evelyn Lee, who died at the age of 18 or 19. Evelyn was working as a maid for Dr. Arthur Kovak. On October 12, 1933 Kovak came home to find Evelyn dead, asphyxiated by the fumes from the naphtha she was using to clean the drapes in the bathroom.

John Lee died in 1945, followed by Adeline, listed as his window, in 1947. The three are buried together, Evelyn between her mother and father. Lee, the man who couldn’t be hanged, who has two graves on two continents, rests in Milwaukee’s Forest Home Cemetery.

The Midwest’s First Crematorium

The Forest Home chapel is made of red Lake Superior sandstone from the Apostle Islands. It opened in 1892. Several years later the first crematorium in the Midwest was built below the chapel, and the first cremation took place in on July 7, 1896.

The crematorium is notable for using oil instead of coal, gas or whatever other crematorys used at the time, meaning the bodies were incinerated faster.

Also, the retorts were larger than normal. The reason for this, one of the cemetery volunteers told me, was to accommodate Milwaukee’s barons.

After a funeral was held in the chapel, the casket would be lowered on coffin-sized elevator lift from the sanctuary down into the crematorium. Families would then push the deceased into the retort, and then spend the next several hours in a marble-covered room waiting for the process to be complete.

The remnants of their loved ones would be swept out of the retort and dumped into a grinder, or cremulator, that breaks up the large chunks of bone into tidy “ashes” so the cremains will fit in an urn.


The cremulator

The crematorium was in use until 1998 when a more modern facility was built elsewhere on the grounds.

Another interesting feature of the chapel’s basement level is the receiving vault, where bodies were stored during the winter months until the ground thawed and graves could be dug. The guide mentioned that when Frederick Pabst died in January 1, 1904, armed guards stood at the entrance to the vault for months protecting his body until he could be buried.

The guide also noted that before the chapel was built, there was a different receiving vault where a fountain now stands that could store up to 400 coffins.


The receiving vault where bodies were stored during winter months


The Forest Home Cemetery chapel was built in 1892


The coffin elevator was used to bring coffins down to the crematory from the chapel sanctuary above

The cenotaph of Milwaukee beer baron Joseph Schlitz
The cenotaph of Milwaukee beer baron Joseph Schlitz

A sign points the way to the crematory during Doors Open Milwaukee
A sign points the way to the crematory during Doors Open Milwaukee

Stolen bronze angel statue
The 6-foot bronze angel that usually stand here was stolen a few weeks ago

It is difficult to leave Forest Home Cemetery, but after wandering aimlessly for a considerable amount of time before I found Lee’s grave (even with the plot map in hand) there was only an hour left before Doors Open Milwaukee concluded for the day.

So I hurried to my second stop:

Calvary Cemetery

Calvary Cemetery chapel in Milwaukee
Calvary Cemetery chapel on Jesuit Hill

The oldest Catholic burial ground in Milwaukee, Calvary Cemetery is filled with the Catholic victims of the Newhall House fire that took 76 lives in 1883 (the non-Catholic victims were buried in Forest Home) and numerous victims of the Lady Elgin disaster that claimed some 300 lives when the steamer collided with a schooner and sank into Lake Michigan on September 8th, 1860.

Other notable interments include Patrick Cudahy of the Patrick Cudahy meat packing company and Frederick Miller, founder of the Miller Brewing Company.

Somewhere in Calvary is a memorial to the Lady Elgin victims, as well as at least one stone (that may or may not be the same as the memorial) which says “lost on the Lady Elgin.” I’ve spent numerous hours on multiple occasions searching the cemetery to no avail, so I didn’t even bother this time. I really just wanted to see the crypt beneath the chapel again.

Abandoned Crypt

Abandoned crypt beneath the Calvary Cemetery chapel
Abandoned crypt beneath the Calvary Cemetery chapel

The Calvary chapel was built in 1899 from Cream City brick atop one of Milwaukee’s highest points. Today it overlooks Miller Park. The hill is sits upon is called as Jesuit Hill, and is primarily the burial place of clergy and members of various religious orders. At the base of the hill is the grave of Father Walter Halloran, the Jesuit priest who assisted in the exorcism of Roland Doe in 1949.

That is one of two cases (the other also involved a Wisconsin priest who was known as the foremost exorcist in America during his life) that inspired William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.

The grave of Exorcist priest Father Walter Halloran
The grave of Father Walter Halloran

The chapel was in use for a long time, but with no climate control, the harsh Wisconsin weather eventually took a toll. It was closed in the 1950s.

The mystery lies in the crypt beneath the chapel.

Calvary Cemetery crypt
Rev. Idziego Tarasiewicza is the crypt’s only interment

The underground mausoleum contains 45 niches on two levels. Two sets of spiral stairs on either side of chapel altar wind down into the crypt. To bring in the dead, each level had it’s own entrance. A tunnel through the hill lead into the lower level.

In 1903, Rev. Idziego Tarasiewicza died. He was the founder of St. Casimir’s Parish. A procession of more than 2,000 mourners walked from the church in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood to the Calvary crypt 6 miles away. Tarasiewicza was entombed in the vault directly beneath the altar. He was the first, as well as the last, interment in the crypt.

And no one knows why.

The marble marker of Rev. Idziego Tarasiewicza
Rev. Tarasiewicza lies behind this marble marker

Calvary Cemetery crypt door sealed off
The entrance to the upper level of the crypt

Calvary Cemetery crypt tunnel entrance
Tunnel entrance into the lower level of the crypt

The guide in the crypt said the reason is probably due to poor ventilation, which could become hazardous. He cited another nearby crypt that was closed for that reason. But whether or not that is the case will remain a mystery. At some point, both outside entrances into the crypt were closed. The tunnel may have been covered up, or it may have collapsed. No one knows.

The crypt is open to the public on Memorial Day and during the Doors Open Milwaukee event every September.

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