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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 6).
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.

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