Like any culture, Japan has its fair share of superstitious beliefs and old wives tales. Consumers avoid facing north while snoozing and refrain from writing names in red. Temple-goers are often seen stocking up on religious charms while hospitals renumber the 4th floor—the kanji four 四 can be read "shi," homophonic with 死, meaning death.

Though they may seem harmless, superstitious and spiritual beliefs are a growing problem for realtors in Japan. As we've touched on before, kodokushi 孤独死, or solitary deaths, are an increasing problem as more elderly residents lead solitary lives throughout their twilight years. Unfortunately, upon passing, bodies are not necessarily discovered quickly. In extreme cases, corpses can go unnoticed for years.

Jiko Bukken: Incident Properties

Jiko bukken 事故物件, incident properties where kodokushi or other fatal events have occurred, effectively operate as quasi-condemned. Renters are naturally reluctant to occupy such residences, and landlords are required to inform renters of their property's history for a period of two years following the event. Indeed, the possibility of encountering a lost spirit comes at a high cost, psychological and otherwise. Owing to a lack of interest, jiko bukken properties are often heavily discounted.

Regardless, many go unoccupied, and their number is on an uptrend. The Guardian covered the issue in a 2018 short documentary following comedian Tanishi Matsubara. The Osaka funny man exclusively rents jiko bukken as he mines material for his sets:

Matsubara explains that Japanese people believe the deceased continue living in their house after passing. This is especially true of violent or lonely deaths, and left-behind spirits will purposefully haunt the living. Unsurprisingly, the comedian has an abundance of properties from which to choose.

Throughout the video, the comedian tours several rooms on the market. Despite being old, shall I dare say that they seem quite normal? Nevertheless, Matsubara will get a good price and the material he needs for his livelihood. When he moves out, the realtor will no longer be obliged to explain the property's past and can again rent at market value.

Zozozo Ghost Hunters: An Abandoned Shrine

So, are such otherworldly encounters real or just a fabled figment of Japanese culture? Either way, some documented evidence would help.

On their “Horror Entertainment Channel," the Zozozo crew looks to provide just that. They head to haunted houses and other spooky places with cameras rolling. If their videos are undoctored and unchoreographed, they have captured some stunning paranormal cinema. However, that may be a very large "if" for the skeptics among us.

The crew heads to a Hotaka shrine in Gunma Prefecture, a site which is infamously haunted. Abandoned shrines are hotbeds of paranormal activity, and this one is no exception. They waste no time heading in and quickly realize this a creepy place to be. The abandoned vestiges are entirely off-putting.

As they venture further, the shrine becomes increasingly unsettling. They head toward the main building passing unsettling signs along the way. The structure, at first, appears to be locked. However, one door is ajar. Inside they find a fabled taiko drum that reportedly plays itself. Following a legend, one member knocks on it five times. But it seems the spirits don’t like that...

An Abandoned Village

In another installation, the crew heads to an abandoned village in Saitama. The town served as the model for Hanyuda Village in the horror video game Siren. Supposedly, a family was killed there.

With bear mace in hand, the crew enters the woods, and the first thing they notice is a grave. Ominous, to say the least. They also stumble across dilapidated buildings and small Buddha statues, and they take a moment to pray. Probably not a bad idea.

The ghost hunters decide to split up as they search for the house where the family was murdered. The two groups wander separately down dark streets and find many abandoned and collapsing houses. However, this episode seems to be eventless. That is until they spot something in the distance...

It's too scary to write here, but what happens next is “the single most frightening experience on the Zozozo channel.”

By - Luke Mahoney.