Kuchisake Onna ((口裂け女, Split-mouthed woman)
The basics of the kuchisake onna have been told in the tea house: She was a vain woman married to a samurai (in some accounts, a ninja) who distrusted her. Believing she was cheating on him, he slices her mouth open at the sides–splitting her face open from ear to ear. She wanders, hiding her mouth behind a fan, the sleeve of a kimono, a stole, or the surgical-style masks now worn in cold and allergy seasons in Japan. She asks someone “watashi, kirei?” (Do you think I’m beautiful?). The answer is usually a resounding “yes” due to her otherworldly beauty, but then she exposes her face and repeats the question; her otherworldly beauty giving way to otherworldly horror. If the person says or does anything besides saying “yes”, she pursues him with a kama (sickle) or knife and replies “I want to do for you what has been done to me.” She can’t be outrun, and eventually slices her victim’s mouth open ear to ear. Women killed in this fashion return as kuchisake onna themselves. In some accounts she is said to run lightning fast, in others she “floats” (due to a famous ukiyo-e artist in the Edo period always painting ghosts with no feet, it was generally regarded by many Japanese that all ghosts had no feet–nothing to “truly link” them to the material world). She has appeared in picture scrolls of yokai and demons as early as the Edo period She was eventually “forgotten” as the Japanese entered the modern age and built a war machine, and then recovered to form an economic giant, but kuchisake onna returned with a vengeance in late 1979. In late 1979 and even into the early 80s, there were many sightings of kuchisake onna. The urban legend probably grew from an actual attack against a child.
During the seventies, the urban legend went that if the victim answers “You’re average”, they are saved. When the urban legend was revived around 2000, the answer that would save you was changed to “so-so,” with the change that this answer causes the kuchisake-onna to think about what to do, and her victim can escape while she is in thought. Another way to escape while the Kuchisake-Onna is distracted is to throw candy or other sweets at her. One other way is to ask her if you are pretty. She will get confused and leave.
The kuchisake onna from the 70s and 80s attack only children, and they attack regardless of whether the answer to her second question is “yes.”
….. still waiting;-)