Nopperabou The Faceless Ghost

The faceless ghost or the Noppera-bō or nopperabou, is a Japanese legendary creature. They are sometimes mistakenly referred to as a mujina, an old Japanese word for a badger or raccoon dog. Though the nopperabou is able to appear to others like a normal person, this is just an illusion. The Nopperabou really lacks eyes, a nose or a mouth. Instead of normal human features, nopperabou have only smooth skin. People who encounter nopperabou usually do not immediately realize that they are talking to something that is otherworldly, as the creatures are able to create the illusion that they have a normal human face. A nopperabou will wait for the right moment before causing their features to disappear, scaring the person they are speaking with. People usually run into nopperabou at night in lonely rural settings, although they can appear anywhere as long as the area is deserted. Such creatures were thought to sometimes transform themselves into noppera-bō in order to frighten humans but are usually harmless.

In Japanese there are two folklore stories about the noppera-bō:

The Noppera-bō and the Koi Pond
This tale recounts a lazy fisherman who decided to fish in the imperial koi ponds near the Heiankyo palace. Despite being warned by his wife about the pond being sacred ground and near a graveyard, the fisherman went anyway. On his way to the pond, he is warned by another fisherman to not go there, but he again ignores the warning. Once at the spot, he is met by a beautiful young woman who pleads with him to not fish in the pond. He ignores her, and to his horror, she wipes her face off. Rushing home to hide, he is confronted by what seems to be his wife, who chastises him for his wickedness before wiping off her facial features as well.

The Noppera-bō of the Akasaka Road
On the Akasaka Road, in Tokyo, there is a slope called Kii-no-kuni-zaka,--which means the Slope of the Province of Kii. On one side of this slope there is an ancient moat, deep and very wide, with high green banks rising up to some place of gardens;--and on the other side of the road extend the long and lofty walls of an imperial palace. Before the era of street-lamps and jinrikishas, this neighborhood was very lonesome after dark; and belated pedestrians would go miles out of their way rather than mount the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, alone, after sunset. All because of a Noppera-bō that used to walk there. The last man who saw the Noppera-bō was an old merchant of the Kyobashi quarter, who died about thirty years ago. This is the story, as he told it:--One night, at a late hour, he was hurrying up the Kii-no-kuni-zaka, when he perceived a woman crouching by the moat, all alone, and weeping bitterly. Fearing that she intended to drown herself, he stopped to offer her any assistance or consolation in his power. She appeared to be a slight and graceful person, handsomely dressed; and her hair was arranged like that of a young girl of good family.

"O-jochu [("honorable damsel"), a polite form of address used in speaking to a young lady whom one does not know]," he exclaimed, approaching her,--"O-jochu, do not cry like that!... Tell me what the trouble is; and if there be any way to help you, I shall be glad to help you." (He really meant what he said; for he was a very kind man.) But she continued to weep,--hiding her face from him with one of her long sleeves. "O-jochu,", he said again, as gently as he could,--"please, please listen to me!... This is no place for a young lady at night! Do not cry, I implore you!-- only tell me how I may be of some help to you!" Slowly she rose up, but turned her back to him, and continued to moan and sob behind her sleeve. He laid his hand lightly upon her shoulder, and pleaded:--"O-jochu!--O-jochu!--O-jochu!... Listen to me, just for one little moment!... O-jochu!--O-jochu!"...

Then that Ojochu turned around, and dropped her sleeve, and stroked her face with her hand;--and the man saw that she had no eyes or nose or mouth,--and he screamed and ran away. Up Kii-no-kuni-zaka he ran and ran; and all was black and empty before him. On and on he ran, never daring to look back; and at last he saw a lantern, so far away that it looked like the gleam of a firefly; and he made for it. It proved to be only the lantern of an itinerant soba-seller, who had set down his stand by the road-side; but any light and any human companionship was good after that experience; and he flung himself down at the feet of the soba-seller, crying out,
"Kore! kore!"[An exclamation of annoyed alarm], roughly exclaimed the soba-man. "Here! what is the matter with you? Anybody hurt you?"
"No--nobody hurt me," panted the other,--"only... Ah!--aa!"
"--Only scared you?" queried the peddler, unsympathetically. "Robbers?"
"Not robbers,--not robbers," gasped the terrified man... "I saw... I saw a woman--by the moat;--and she showed me... Ah! I cannot tell you what she showed me!"...
"Was it anything like THIS that she showed you?" said the soba-man, stroking his own face--which therewith became like unto an Egg with no eyes, nose and mouth... And, simultaneously, the light went out.

Nopperabou Sightings Outside Japan
Though most sightings of noppera-bō tend to be historical, reports within the 20th century have not been uncommon, both in Japan itself as well as locations where Japanese have emigrated, most notably the U.S. state of Hawaii and where the term "mujina" vice "noppera-bō" is most deeply ingrained. Among the most recent reports:

The faceless ghost made her first appearance
at the Waialae Drive-In Theater in Kahala.Hawai`i on May 19, 1959 when Bob Krauss reported in The Honolulu Advertiser. A girl left her car and went into the restroom around midnight to put on fresh lipstick. In the mirror she saw a figure behind her with long hair and no face. She saw that the figure had no legs, only half a body. When the girl turned around, there was nobody behind her. The door slammed shut and locked as the poor girl screamed and fainted.

In another version reported by Krauss, the woman went to the restroom. As she entered, she noticed the place was occupied by another woman who was standing in front of the mirror combing her long, beautiful hair. The first woman came closer and spoke. The second woman turned slightly. She had no face. The first woman was so frightened she ended up in the hospital with a breakdown. The suggested cause for the haunting of the faceless ghost was the fact that the Waialae Drive-In Theater was located next to a cemetery. Although manager Albert Silva strongly denied in 1959 the stories that the restrooms of his drive-in theater were haunted, he did note that the stories helped business. "Every night a couple dozen people asked me if I've seen the ghost," he said. "I haven't but I've sure heard enough about it. Business has been booming since Thursday."

The faceless ghost has evidently expanded her appearances to other venue throughout the Islands. For example, rumors now circulate that she has been seen in two different restaurants in Hilo, and that several shopping malls on the island of O`ahu have be envisited by the faceless ghost. Specifically reporting where these sightings have taken place would be inappropriate, but needless to say, the fascination with the faceless ghost continues.

(Sources : Japan Culture Research Project 2003 :” Youkai and Kaidan” by Robert Jay Gould;;; and wikipedia)

(Pic source:
Nopperabou The Faceless Ghost Nopperabou The Faceless Ghost Reviewed by Tripzibit on 05:10 Rating: 5


  1. Wow, I've never heard of this one before. I find it ironic how business is affected by the sighting of the phenomenon-type. Not suggesting anything at all, but it does indeed always spark interest regardless if it is fact or not.

    This is a good one, and thanks for posting it!

  2. this was very interesting

    the pond story is pretty scary too

  3. came here to drop the EC...and btw, I would like to ask a favor if you could help us vote for my daughter...if you have time....your help is much appreciated....thanks!

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  4. Wow, that's freaky and terrifying, and why am I reading this at 10:45 at night when it's dark and creepy in the house?

    I'm going to pray now for God's protection on my house.

  5. I doubt it would hurt ya anyway. Just scare ya. I think it'd be cool running into something like that, so long as its sole purpose was only to scare. xD

    There IS however a certain place I wouldn't want to encounter it.. a grudge style encounter DO NOT WANT.


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