The Ghosts of Okinawa
by Jayne A. Hitchcock
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Ghosts, spirits, ghouls, and seances. All of these conjure up images of things that
go bump in the night or monsters hiding under the bed. From that icy feeling in one spot in a
room to an ashtray floating in the air, the unknown world of the supernatural piques interest in
even the most skeptical.
Okinawa has its fair share of haunted happenings and is often referred to as "Spook
Central." One theory abounds that this is because of Okinawa's location in the middle of the
ocean and the longitude and latitude, which are supposed to attract lightning that can be seen
even when there isn't a storm. Are these lightning bolts lost souls? What are they seeking? Or
did they leave unfinished business and now need to find a way to finish it before they can go on
to the great beyond? Others claim Okinawa is so old and has had so many conflicts on it that the
thousands of people who died here don't know they're dead . . . yet.
Whatever it may be, it is true that Okinawans are a superstitious bunch. It's not
uncommon to find a small pile of salt with a knife across it in rooms of a house that's reputed to
be haunted or near a place that is haunted. Others hang a small wood plaque over the front door
with an inscription warning evil spirits to stay out. Okinawans have been known to move out of
an apartment or house if something supernatural happens in or near it. It is also not unusual for
an Okinawan family to move if someone dies in front of their home. They feel the spirit of the
dead person may try to inhabit their home and maybe take over their bodies.
Many of the buildings and places visited in this book were completely empty and devoid
of vandalism and squatters. This is most likely because Okinawans respect and fear the dead and
will not invite anger from a spirit by traipsing around a place known to be haunted. Some of
these buildings still had furnishings inside, untouched except by natural elements. Could this be
another fear that spirits inhabit those items?
Ask an Okinawan about ghosts or haunts and don't be surprised to find they quickly
change the subject. They are uneasy talking about the dead, even if the ghost in question is
supposed to be a samurai warrior from hundreds of years ago. And Okinawans avoid any
supernatural contact at 2 a.m. -- that's the witching hour. But they are still inexorably drawn to
the supernatural: Look at Obon, which is also called the Festival of the Dead (see Chapter
The stories within these pages are just a few of the many told all over the island. Some
were experienced by the author, others were firsthand accounts, and some are well-known
legends. For those who believe in ghosts, welcome. To those who do not . . . beware, you just
might be the next ghost to haunt Okinawa.
Decide for yourself after you experience. . .
The Ghosts of Okinawaİ
Sample Stories from Chapter One
Tall Tales or Real Ghosts?
1) The Sportscar
Many years ago, a young Okinawan couple purchased an expensive sports car. Soon
after, they were in an accident and the woman was decapitated. Although the car was repaired,
the husband sold it. But whoever owned or drove the car found they were not alone. If the
driver looked in the rearview mirror, a woman appeared to be sitting in the back seat, but when
the driver turned around, no one was there. After being sold many times, the car was finally
destroyed -- it was pushed off a cliff into the ocean.
2) The GI
A U.S. military base gate on Hwy 58 (rumored to be the old Makiminato gate 2) used to
have a frequent visitor, a GI from WWII. Each Friday and Saturday night at the same time, a GI
in full combat gear would approach the gate, which was manned by Marines. When he reached
the gate guard, he had a cigarette in his hands and would ask, "Gotta light?" After the gate guard
lit the cigarette, the GI would disappear into thin air. When this happened many times, Marines
refused guard duty at this gate and it was finally closed. One theory about why the GI showed up
every weekend is that sometimes when people die, their images are caught in a kind of time warp
"record player." A certain thing could trigger this record player so that an event the person did
when they were alive is replayed. Some say if you go to the area where this gate used to be you
can still see the GI ask for a light, even though the guardhouse is no longer there.