Previously: Bara-Hack, Connecticut.
In the north of Japan, in Hokkaido Prefecture’s Iwamizawa City, there’s a house with a blue roof. But to many, it’s not just a house with a blue roof; it’s the House With The Blue Roof. Why? Because it’s haunted, of course.
Or at least, it’s said to be haunted; whether or not the stories about it are true remain to be seen. But what is true is the existence of the House itself. Located along Ekimae dori Ave., just down the road from the Midorigaokareien (緑ヶ丘霊園) bus stop at 6 Chome, Midorigaoka, it’s a two-story, single-family dwelling with white siding and, of course, a roof of a particular shade of blue. It’s falling apart, and has been for some time; the white siding is crumbling in some places and filthy all over, while the windows are either broken, boarded up, or both. Where the door might be isn’t apparent; that’s been boarded up, too. No one has lived in the House for years — and since it looks the part, well, it’s unsurprising that its role in the local landscape is that of a haunted house.
Where is the line between fact and fiction? That’s… difficult to discern when it comes to House With The Blue Roof. But for the curious, here is what we know — or think we know — about the allegedly haunted domicile.
Ghost Spots And Psychic Locations
The House With The Blue Roof is what’s often referred to as a 心霊スポット, or shinrei suppoto — a term that can translate both to “ghost spot” and “psychic spot.” If you’re used to seeing the word yurei typically used to refer to what Westerners think of as ghosts, well, shinrei is similar — sort of tangentially related — but not quite the same thing.
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Whereas yurei, from the kanji 幽 (yū), or “faint”/“dim,” and 霊 (rei), or “soul”/“spirit” are pretty much analogous to the Western idea of ghosts, what the term shinrei refers to is a little more… flexible? Ephemeral? Conceptual? All of the above, really. Like yurei, the back half of it is the kanji for soul or spirit; however, the front half — 心, the “shin” part of the equation — typically means something more like “heart” or “mind.” Literally, shinrei translates to “mind spirit” or “heart spirit,” although I’ve also seen it translated as “miracle.” (See: Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi, a play originally written for the bunraku puppet theatre in 1770 and later adapted for the kabuki theatre in 1794; an 1843 woodblock print depicting the story by Japanese artist Utagawa Kunisada (神霊矢口之渡) held within the Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston’s collection is filed under the name “Miracle At The Yaguchi Ferry.”)
A shinrei suppoto, therefore, can best be understood more generally as a location where weird things happen. That could mean that ghosts tend to appear there, hence why the term is sometimes translated as “ghost spot”; but, given the flexibility of the word shinrei, “psychic spot” also fits. Heck, even “miracle spot” makes a certain amount of sense, although admittedly I’ve never seen the full phrase — shinrei suppoto — translated as such.
The Legend Of The House With The Blue Roof
In any event, the history of the House is… a little spotty. Most of what we have about it are rumors and legends to which a documented paper trail has never been satisfactorily connected, but for the curious, here’s what those rumors and legends say:
The house was allegedly built sometime in the 1980s, reaching completion definitely by 1987, possibly by 1984, or potentially as early as 1982. Whatever the year, though, it’s said that the trouble began almost immediately. The builder of the house, you see, is said to have been a man — a taxi driver — who discovered not too long after moving in with his family that his wife was having an affair. The wife subsequently decided she wanted a divorce and moved out, taking their child with her. The taxi driver died by suicide in the house shortly afterwards.
With this (alleged) history, the House gained a reputation as a jiko bukken (事故物件), or stigmatized property, and therefore became difficult to sell. The prices for stigmatized properties in Japan — both to rent and to buy — tend to be much cheaper than those of non-stigmatized properties; if it doesn’t bother you to know that someone died in your home, or even that your home might be straight-up haunted, you can get great deals on these kinds of residences. But many, understandably, don’t relish the thought of living in places with this kind of history — which turned out to be very much the case for the House With The Blue Roof. No matter how low the price for it dropped, few wanted to buy it.
Of course, it probably doesn’t help matters that the residence is located across the street from a cemetery — Midorigaoka Cemetery (緑ヶ丘霊園), to be precise, a 50-hectare municipal cemetery that was created in either 1943 or 1963, depending on the source. (Kowabana.net pins the date as 1943, but several Japanese sources I’ve found state its date of creation as 1963.) There don’t seem to be any reports specifying whether this particular cemetery is, well, cursed or anything — but it is a cemetery, so if living in a house known to have hosted a tragic death understandably bothers some people, it’s no surprise that living next to 50 hectares of land that are literally full of the remains of dead people might bother folks, too. Indeed, some believe that the House, given its proximity to the cemetery, lies in the middle of a “path of the dead” or a “spirit road” — a throughway that the spirits of those have died travel along on their way to the afterlife.
Despite the difficulties, the House did manage to sell or rent from time to time — although it never housed any single occupant for an extended amount of time. People who moved in, moved out again in short order. Some, it’s said, died in the House in the same manner as the taxi driver, including a university student, who along with several friends had become a resident of the House due to its inexpensive rent. Shinto priests who came to bless, purify, or exorcise the property saw no success; in fact, many, it was said, suffered a crisis of faith, sanity, or both after spending time within its walls.
The Story Spreads
By 2005, the House With The Blue Roof sat vacant — and around this time, the stories about it began to circulate online. It became a regular subject of discussion on 2ch/5ch — for instance, in this thread dated 2006, where it’s mentioned in post 33, and this one dated 2009, where the topic is brought up in post 594. It’s been documented on Ghostmap, and has become a popular location for ghost-hunting YouTubers to visit.
And as the legends have circulated, they have grown. Those who venture inside the House report the most disturbing stories: One, for instance, heard the voice of a child inside the House, when no children could have been present, while another who dared to smoke a cigarette within it found themself the victim of a house fire at their own home several days later.
But these reports also detail exactly how the house expresses its haunted nature to the average visitor — those who don’t set foot inside, but who simply drive or otherwise pass by it. According to some reports, driving by it twice in the same visit yields two different results: First, you’ll see it with empty windows devoid of any drapery; but if you drive by again, you’ll see closed curtains in those same windows — curtains which, according to what your eyes previously told you, shouldn’t be there at all.
According to others, you’ll see not curtains in the windows, but a figure — something that looks human, but isn’t.
Some say that a mysterious fog sometimes hangs around the House — and only around the House. Drive a few meters away and the fog will clear up; if you look back, though, the House will be obscured from view, even while the rest of the neighborhood remains visible.
And still others insist that if you take photographs of the place, you’ll see orbs floating within them, even though they won’t have been visible to your naked eye while you were taking the shot.
Most curiously is this: According to one resident of Iwamizawa, a recording made of a town hall meeting in which the House was discussed became, somehow, corrupt and inaudible — but only the section pertaining to the House. Everything before and after that portion of the recording was fine.
The House clearly does not like being discussed.
Visiting The House With The Blue Roof
It’s likely, of course, that these stories are just that — stories. That the supposed “history” of the House is fictional. That the “reports” of what has gone on in and around it are flights of fancy. That the mythology of the place has sprung up not as a result of curious activity, but as a reflection of the House’s increasingly dilapidated exterior.
The House With The Blue Roof, you see, isn’t just a shinrei supotto; it’s also a haikyo (廃墟,) — an abandoned location favored by urban explorers. Not all haikyo are shinrei supotto; similarly, not all shinrei supotto are haikyo. Sometimes, though, a single location does fill out the center of the Venn diagram between the two. When that happens, they tend to feed into each other in a sort of oroboros of spookiness, the abandoned nature of the place fueling the ghost stories and the ghost stories in turn fueling the abandoned appearance.
If you happen to be in Iwamizawa, you can visit the House With The Blue Roof; it’s along a regular road with a sidewalk, enabling easy pass-by trips in a car, or even on foot. But don’t try going inside. For one thing, it’s probably illegal (reminder: Don’t trespass!); for another, the building is boarded up, with the doors and windows covered over with heavy plywood.
And for yet another…
…Well, what if the stories are true?
Would you really want to chance it?
Those who have spent time inside… don’t seem to have had a good time afterwards.
If the stories are to be believed, of course.
It’s a pretty big risk either way.
Because… what if?
Just what if?
Follow The Ghost In My Machine on Twitter @GhostMachine13 and on Facebook @TheGhostInMyMachine. And for more games, don’t forget to check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available now from Chronicle Books!
[Photo via Screenshot/Google Street View]
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