5 Scary Tales from Different Cultures

October is Halloween time and time for all spooky stories. We are used to stories of vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other ghoulish fiends, but many cultures have chilling lore and myths of their own. At Jarvisen, we value communication between different cultures, and passing along stories is one of the oldest forms of human connection. In honor of Halloween, here are our top 5 spooky tales from around the world.


1. The Ghosts of Bengal, India

In Bengal, there are a few ghost stories in Indian culture, ranging from vengeful spirits of widows (the sankhachurnis) to the lingering souls with unfinished business (the nishi dak). 

The Skondhokatas of Bengal are one of the more widely known ghosts. The Skondhokatas are headless ghosts thought to have been decapitated in train accidents. They typically reside around the railways where they perished; most people wouldn’t want to be caught alone with one. They’re said to be vengeful and dangerous. 


2. Yara-ma-yha-who (Australia) 
Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels

An Abororiginal myth, the yara-ma-yha-who is Australia’s version of a werewolf. In its stories, the yara-ma-yah-who can transform humans into new versions of themselves. It is described as a red man-eating creature who stands at four feet tall and resembles an amphibian. As the tale goes, the yara-ma-yha-who has the ability to swallow a man whole by unhinging its jaws as a snake might. Because the yara-ma-yha-who reside in fig trees, parents would recount the story of the yara-ma-yha-who to children to dissuade them from wandering in the forest. 


3. La Llorona (Mexico)

The weeping woman, La Llorona, is a popular folktale of Mexican and Latin American culture. The story of La Llorona came to be during the Age of the Conquistadors. La Llorona is described as a tall, slender woman dressed in an all-white dress. It is unclear what La Llorona’s origins are, but researchers believe that La Llorona is the spirit of a woman who drowned both herself and her children in a lake. Characterized by a wailing or weeping sound, her unresting spirit searches for the souls of her deceased children. 


4. The Legend of Hanako-San (Japan)

The Legend of Hanako-San, or the Girl in the Bathroom, is a Japanese urban legend that began in children’s schools. Like the story of Bloody Mary, if you were to venture to the third-floor bathroom in a school and knock on the third stall three times, a little girl with a bob-cut hairstyle would appear. Hanako-san would then drag her victims into hell.

It is not clear where exactly Hanako-san originates from. Some say she’s a World War II victim, while others claim it’s the unrested soul of a young girl who committed suicide in a school. 


5. Jiang-Shi (China)

We would be remiss not to mention one of the most popular folklore monsters to exist: vampires. China has its own form of vampiric ghost called the jiang-shi. Jiang-shi, or Hopping Vampires, originated in the Qing Dynasty, and these cursed spirits were said to have rigor mortis in their waking life. Jiang-shi can only move by hopping with its arms out in front of it. 

The tale of jiang-shi may have started from the tradition of corpse-driving, where impoverished migratory workers hired corpse drivers to perform necromancy. This involved binding the wrists, knees, and ankles of their loved ones, and from there, the corpse-driver would tie the body to a long pole and prod it until it began hopping. 


Halloween is the perfect time to trade ghost stories and spooky tales. Learning a new language does not have to be scary, though. With Jarvisen, you can hear these scary stories directly from natives! Jarvisen translates conversations in real-time. Buy a Jarvisen Translator today and start your journey of connecting with new cultures!

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