A Real Life Horror – Totoro Story Reflects the Shadows of Sayama Incident

totoroposterLabor day Weekend!  The unofficial beginning of autumn, my favorite time of year.  Not too hot, or too cold, but just right.  Now it’s time to think about Halloween, which is just around the corner.

Love all the horror stories and little monsters that will be sprouting out from behind the cupboards!

Today I was reading about the cute little character Totoro, and how the story is based on a real life Japanese horror story.  This is the same cute round giant cuddly ‘thing’ that my kids loved and watched countless times –

Some say the anime Totoro story is really based on a crime committed in 1963 in Sayama City Japan.

The real story is called the Sayama Incident.

A sixteen year old girl named Yoshie Nakatawas was abducted on her way home from school.  Her older sister brought fake money to pay the ransom, but the culprit ran off,  suspicious that he was being ambushed.  The police did not catch him.  Later Yoshie’s dead body was discovered buried in a ditch on a farm; she had been raped and murdered.  The older sister later committed suicide, tormented by the brutal ordeal.

The police were pressed to find the killer, since there was also a murder one month earlier.  So they arrested 24-year-old Kazuo Ishikawaman who eventually confessed and was sentenced to death, but later his sentence was changed to imprisonment for 31 years.  Some say he was innocent and forced to confess.  He was paroled in 1994 but wants a retrial to clear his name as murderer.  This is a major case in Japan concerning human rights.

If he in fact did not commit this heinous crime, then there is a murderer who has been free all these years.

Was the cute lovable Totoro character portrayed in the anime, really the creature to take the two sisters to the next world?

Some say the Totoro story has many similarities to the real life crime.  The shadows of the girls 10_nekobus_mei_satsuki4-550x541change during the movie, suggesting they are dead.  The timeline suggests the girl’s death, too.  The happy ending appears to be a flashback, etc.  Some say the fact that she is missing near a farm in the film is more than coincidence.

The story version made into a children’s movie added magical creatures like the Catbus, which was invented from the old Japanese invention ‘Nekobus’ which is an old cat who becomes so wise it can change, thus this cat was intrigued by the bus and morphed into one.  Some believe that the Nekobus is actually a carriage for ghosts to travel to the next world after death.  Also cute little dust bunnies were added in the film.  They are called ‘Makkuro Kurosuke’ in Japanese, literally translated as Pitch-black Blackie, another connotation about death.

The movie we all love is a far cry from the horrific crime, and tragedy of the two sisters who were the victims of the monster.  I love the Totoro show –  but I am also moved by the real life tragedy that happened in 1963.

One more horror story to add to the list of murdering monsters who got away!


Forensic photo of the Sayama incident, 1963

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