From an eerily silent forest to a crumbling, red-brick mansion, Asia has several hair-raising places that will spook even the bravest adventurer.
Aokigahara Forest (Fujikawaguchiko, Japan)
Sitting at the base of Mount Fuji, the forest stands on rich hardened lava that absorbs sound. This, coupled with the absence of wildlife, makes it an ideal place for those seeking solitude. But it carries a sinister reputation. Every year, hundreds of Japanese troop to Aokigahara to take their lives, earning the place the nickname “Suicide Forest.” Annual body searches are done by local authorities, and in one year, more than 100 corpses were found.
Adding a patina of horror is the rumor that in the 19th century, it was also a place where ubasute—the practice where an elderly is left behind until he dies of starvation—was done often. These tales have led many to believe that Aokigahara is the home of yūrei, or ghosts.
Explore the area and you’ll see a sign, written in Japanese, urging visitors not to commit suicide.
Manila Film Center (Pasay, Manila)
Standing abandoned at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex is a mammoth structure built in 1982 to fulfill a third world country’s Hollywood dreams. Reportedly costing US$25 million, the Manila Film Center was constructed to serve as a film archive, as well as a venue for the first Manila International Film Festival. The MIFF was envisioned to be an event that would rival the Cannes Film Festival—and in many ways it did. No less than Jeremy Irons, and a young, bushy-eyebrowed Brooke Shields attended the event.
But no one really remembers the MIFF. What most Filipinos are aware of is what happened during the construction of the film center. A pet project of the then first lady Imelda Marcos, the structure had to be completed within three months. The gargantuan task fell on the shoulders of 4,000 workers who worked in three shifts for 24 hours, non-stop. Thanks to them, the lobby, which normally can be completed in six weeks, was built in 72 hours.
The rush job stopped momentarily when tragedy struck two months before the opening, on November 17, 1981 at 3 a.m. One of the scaffoldings collapsed, burying more than 150 workers under quick drying cement. Some sunk deep into the cement, others were alive, yet half-buried. According to a lengthy article in local magazine Rogue, no rescue teams were allowed into the area for nine hours until a government statement was released.
A Manila urban legend that remains pervasive is that the rescuers did not bother to pull out workers who were mired in the cement, and that some who were still alive were left to die. The construction continued, burying the corpses even further. Filipinos believe that the place is haunted by the ghosts of those men whose bodies served as the foundation of the ill-fated building.
Nam Koo Terrace (Wanchai, Hong Kong)
The two-story, red-brick building is a prime example of a fusion of Chinese and Western architectural styles, yet its beauty has been eroded by years of neglect. Built in the early 1900s, it was owned by a rich Shanghainese merchant, To Chun-man. However, the Tos were forced to evacuate the building in the 1940s when Japanese soldiers used the mansion as a “comfort house,” a moniker given to places where women were raped. Hong Kongers believe that some of these women were even decapitated.
Wan Chai’s residents say that in some nights, the screams of these women echo through the night, and headless ghosts can be seen flitting from one room to the next. There are tales that some people have committed suicides (or murder) within and around the mansion. Some residents have also reported that they have seen fires blazing within the eerie house.
In 2003, several local newspapers reported about eight ghost-seeking students who ventured inside the mansion for one grisly night. The students played a game of Ouija, and reportedly, malevolent spirits possessed three of the girls, one of whom turned violent and assaulted rescuers who turned up at the mansion. The girls were then brought to a hospital’s psychiatric ward to recover.
True or not, these tales just add more notoriety to the dreaded mansion. The current owner, Hopewell Holdings, have divulged plans of modernizing the area where the mansion is located, but the place remains abandoned until this day.