Monday, October 20, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Tokyo with Steve Bein

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is Tokyo and our special guide is Steve Bein author of the Fated Blades series.

The Fated Blades series is set in Tokyo, Japan so it seems fitting that our guide for this week's Paranormal Road Trip be the amazing Steve Bein.  Let's see what terrifying places Steve has planned for our tour.

Tokyo's Top Five Spooky Places

1. Masakado no Kubizuka.  Kubizuka means “grave for a head,” and that’s what you’ll find if you get off at Otemachi station in Tokyo.  It’s not just any old head that’s interred there; this one belonged to Taira Masakado, one of the great warriors in the earliest days of the samurai.

In 939 he stood up against the Imperial house, and the histories have it that an oracle actually proclaimed Masakado to be the true emperor.  The sitting emperor wasn’t having any of that, of course, so he sent troops to kill the upstart.  Masakado insisted until the end that he was loyal to the law and to the empire, but he was surrounded, killed, and suffered the posthumous disgrace of having his head carted all the way back down to Kyoto to be put on public display.

The head didn’t care for that, so it took flight and soared all the way back to the sleepy fishing village of Shibasaki, which eventually became Edo, which eventually became Tokyo.  1100 years later the kubizuka remains, and the locals still venerate it.  Why?  Because if they don’t, they tend to get struck by earthquakes or typhoons.

2. The Prime Minister’s Mansion.  This is my very favorite story of modern Japanese history.  Last year, new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to move into his mansion.  He refused to say why, but the truth was common knowledge: he believed it was haunted.  I’m not making this up; mainstream media sources reported on this.  (Here’s one article.)

How does he know it’s haunted?  First, he’s got close to 100 years’ worth of ghostly rumors on his side.  Second, he used to live there.  He was prime minister before—briefly, from 2006-2007—and for all we know, he got a taste of some of those ghost stories firsthand.  Two things we know for sure.  First, he and his wife have been in no hurry to move back in.  Second, it’s pretty hard to imagine any US president being re-elected after refusing to move into the residence at the White House because of ghost stories.

3. Ueno Toshogu Shrine.  Apparently these samurai don’t take death lying down.  Like the Masakado no Kubizuka, the hilltop shrine in Tokyo’s Ueno Park is the site of a massive samurai rebellion.  In 1868 Japan finally shrugged off 265 years of military rule under the Tokugawa shogunate, reinstating the emperor as the supreme ruler of the land.   Two thousand shogun loyalists took their last stand against the Imperial forces, choosing the temple of Kaneiji as their battleground.

It didn’t go well for them or for the temple.  The 300-acre temple complex was all but destroyed, replaced today by a public park, the Toshogu Shrine, and the occasional cold spot in the evening—supposedly the ghosts of lingering samurai.  Tokyo summers can get pretty hot, so if you want to go have a nice picnic in the park, maybe a few undead guests wouldn’t be so bad.

4. Atsugi Naval Air Base. Kanagawa, a large prefecture in Greater Tokyo, is home to the Atsugi Naval Air Base.  Kamikaze pilots used to take off from here in the final months of World War II.  After the Japanese surrender, many of these pilots took their own lives, following the long-standing samurai tradition of preferring death to dishonor.  Rumor has it that you can still see their glowing red eyes floating in the hangar bay.

On the same base you can find BEQ 985, an old barracks supposedly haunted by a young man that wanders from room to room.  Those who have seen him say he’s the spirit of a Marine who was killed in a car crash in the 1960s.

5. Yokosuka Ikego Concentration Camp.  Everyone knows about the German concentration camps in WWII, but not everyone knows about the Japanese camps.  One of them was in Yokosuka, on the outskirts of Greater Tokyo.  Thousands of Chinese and Koreans were put to work and later killed.  Today it has become a housing base for US troops, which is not what I’d call ideal accommodations.  Living on the site of a former concentration camp has got to be pretty creepy.  The incinerators are still standing.

There are three gates into Ikego, and the one called the Middle Gate is the site of multiple ghost sightings.  People report hearing voices and footsteps, and a few have reported seeing a legless Japanese soldier in WWII battle dress crawling between the Middle Gate and the Back Gate.

Thank you Steve for giving us such a haunting tour of Tokyo!  

To learn more about Steve Bein and his books, please visit his website and don't miss our Q+A with Steve Bein here at From the Shadows.  You can add the Fated Blades series here on Goodreads.

Readers, was this your first visit to Tokyo?  Have you experienced anything supernatural in and around Tokyo, Japan?

What did you think of Steve Bein's picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited Austin, Texas with Gerry Bartlett.  Next week we'll be traveling to Detroit, Michigan with Laura Bickle.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!


  1. Now i really want to visit Japan ! Seems so cool, all these hunted places c:

    1. Yes, me too! I love learning about new places each week. So many spooky spots to add to my travel bucket list. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, so creepy! I may have nightmares about the ghost of the legless solidier.

  3. For a while now I have been wanting to go to Japan and reading these creepy stories just makes me want to go even more. *excited*

  4. So want to visit Japan. My parents lived in Okinawa before I was born (air force), and all the photos of temples and videos of festivals are gorgeous. I'm a techie, so there's that draw, too :-P

    I didn't know about concentration camps there, though. Guess it shouldn't be surprising - we even had internment camps. Maybe they mentioned it in one of the history textbooks in school, but I doubt it.

    1. Me too! I've had friends who have gone there for work and I've been jealous ever since.

      Even though Paranormal Road Trip began as something fun, I have been learning new things each week about places all around the world. PRT is fun AND educational. ;)

  5. sounds awesome ty for sharing i so wanna goto Japan so when ppl post about it i have to read them

  6. Thanks for the trip, I find in interesting to see what people on the other side of the world find to be haunted

    1. I love that Steve brought us all the way to Tokyo on this Paranormal Road Trip. :)

  7. The Prime Minister’s Mansion being haunted is epic!

    1. Yes! There are tons of news articles, if you're interested in researching. Very cool.