• About this Haunted Doll •
The Okiku doll or “お菊人形” is a real haunted doll whos hair grows, online it is often lauded as the “Scariest Haunted Japanese Doll” or that she’s “Worse than Chucky.” - I understand that when you think “haunted dolls” Chucky is probably what fills that head space at first thought - but the reality of it is: even if she is haunted: she hasn’t actually done anything to deserve such a sensationalized title or bad reputation...
..The ‘official’ origin of the Okiku doll is as follows: "At the Taisho Exposition held in Sapporo in August 1918, Eikichi Suzuki, who was 17 years old at the time, bought a beautiful doll with an Okappa (bowl cut) hair cut for his three-year-old sister, Kikuko. Kikuko loved it so much that she even took it to her bedroom and slept with it. However, in January of the following year, Kikuko died suddenly of a cold. (likely the Spanish flu, the pandemic at the time.) But They forgot to put the doll in her coffin, so instead was placed on the Buddhist altar with her remains. In 1938, the Suzuki family left Hokkaido and moved to Sakhalin, leaving the doll at Mannenji Temple for safekeeping. After the war, when they returned for a memorial service, they found that the doll’s hair had grown even longer, down to its waist, the family felt that Kikuko’s spirit had come to reside in the doll. So, they entrusted it to Mannenji Temple where it remains to this day.”
this is the official story which Manneji temple itself has said to be true since the ‘70s, In the ‘80s; its likely thanks to “Scary story booms" that different ‘horror’ centred origins & rumours started popping up in magazines, books, and such (which of course stretched the truth.) - As the years passed on, the doll’s fame grew and then more horror-based rumours spread. (that’s just how urban legends/folklore/ghost stories work.)
The reason behind her hair growth is simply because of the way these Old fashioned/Antique dolls were made: real hair (yes, human hair.) would be flocked, the strings holding it together deteriorate over time, causing it to appear to "grow" - Legend has it that Okikus hair continues to grow by a few millimeters to this day, and it is often rumored that the temple still gives her a trim annually as part of a memorial service. (One rumour I read said that she haunts the nightmares of the priests/those that view her if she doesn't get her annual trim! & other such exaggerated truths.) -In reality: the hair apparently stopped growing as much as it had been by the mid-1980's - After which: People began to claim they noticed the mouth beginning to open a little more widely over time. - (The Priests at the temple refuted/reasoned that the doll was slowly warping a bit. (naturally with age.) and that it had been bending forward slightly, thus, showing off her teeth. (Some people say they've seen her eyes move as well or that supposedly she's becoming more realistic over time...)
So: Despite what you might read online: Okiku is not at all an 'Evil Spirit' - (Remember: if she IS haunted: it's by a lonesome 3-year-old, ghosts of children such as Zashiki Warashi are often believed to bring good fortune rather than bad.) in reality: the spirit haunting this doll (If it is indeed haunted.) hasn’t gone on record as doing anything bad in her time at the temple, aside from needing an occasional trim. - If anything, this doll is only ‘Eerie/yokai adjacent’ because her hair grew... otherwise its a memorial to a little girl, & her bad reputation is in-fact, very much exaggerated!
Just wish more sites leaned less on the “oooh she horrible!!” Horror Trope, when in reality the spirit that's supposedly haunting the doll died young & she didn’t even do anything wrong! - in my mind that’s an awful way to be remembered. (On the other hand people are still talking about her 100+ years later.) - If I ever get the chance to travel, I hope to pay my respects, (but if I can’t, I hope this artistic tribute & explaination does the trick!) - If you want an actual 'scary murder doll' - I’d recommend checking out my stickers: “Mary-san” & "Annabelle Higgins"
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo, thats me!) - Part of my Night parade of 100 Demons - Yokai & Japanese folklore sticker collection, weather resistant 4" sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!