Okiku, aka “The Haunted Doll of Hokkaido” is a creepy old Japanese doll residing at a temple in Iwamizawa Temple that allegedly grows human hair. Obviously, it’s also said to be haunted by the spirit of a little girl.
There are various legends regarding Okiku, but the most popular one speaks of a traditional Japanese doll bought by Eikichi Suzuki, a seventeen-year-old boy from Hokkaido, who bought it for his little sister, in 1918. It is said that the tree-year-old girl, called Kikuko, loved the doll very much, took it everywhere with her, and slept with it every night. But, as is often the case in these creepy legends, young Kikuko died one day after catching a cold, and that’s when things started getting strange.
The girl’s family kept the doll she loved so much, placed in a small shrine for remembrance. They named it “Okiku’, after their lost daughter, and started praying to it. At one point they noticed something very unusual – the doll, which had an ‘okappa’ hair style (cropped at around jawline length and with a small fringe over the forehead), now had noticeably longer hair. They took this as a sign that the doll was haunted by Kikuko’s spirit.
In 1938, Kikuko’s family decided to move from Hokkaido, only instead of taking their daughter’s doll with them, they agreed that it would be best for it to remain on the island. So they entrusted it to the monks at Mannenji Temple, and shared with them its creepy secret. Okiku has been residing at the temple ever since, and people often come to see its legendary human hair for themselves, but they are not allowed to photograph it.
Nowadays, Okiku has long hair flowing down all the way to its knees. It would probably be a lot longer, but the monks make sure to trim it from time to time. That’s a dangerous thing to do to a haunted doll, but Grape reports that one of the monks started doing it after having a dream of Okiku asking him to do it. Nobody has been able to explain why the doll’s hair keeps growing.
Some sources also claim that a scientific examination of the doll revealed that its hair is indeed that of a human child, although I have yet to find any evidence of that. Even more ludicrous is the claim that if you get close enough to Okiku and look into its half-open mouth, you can see its growing teeth…
Okiku’s story has inspired numerous novels, films and traditional Kabuki plays, some of which have added even creepier elements, like the doll giggling, wailing or moving around.
So if you’re ever on Japan’s Hokkaido island and want to get stared at by a haunted doll with beady black eyes, head over to Mannenji Temple to meet Okiku, the famous Haunted Doll of Hokkaido.