Cactus Gallery LA
KUCHISAKE - ONNA (Slit-Mouthed Woman) by artist Kelly Thompson
Mixed media, 12" x 6"
Kuchisake-onna ("Slit-Mouthed Woman") is a figure appearing in Japanese ghost stories. She is a woman who was mutilated by her husband, and returns as a malicious spirit. Although some stories describe her as a former patient of a mental asylum, a more common story describes that in the Heian period, her husband found out that she was cheating on him with another samurai. He used a sword to cut her mouth from ear to ear and asked, "Who will think you are beautiful now?"
According to the legend, she covers her mouth with a cloth mask, a fan, or a scarf. In the modern urban legend she walks around wearing a surgical mask. The woman will ask a potential victim "Am I pretty?" If he answers yes, she will remove her mask and ask him again in a girly voice. If he answers yes or screams, she will slash him from ear to ear so that he resembles her. If he answers no, she will walk away, only to follow her victim home and brutally murder him that night.
To avoid this fate, people claimed that they gave her confusing answers or threw money or hard candy at her, buying themselves time to run away and lose her.