Are you into Japanese horror—stringy-haired ghost ladies, cursed dolls, spooky schools, and all? Then you might as well add “exploring a Japanese haunted house attraction” to your Japan to-do list.
Haunted houses are especially popular in summer (July to mid-September), as August is Obon season, a time when the dead are said to visit the living. Getting chills from a good scare is also said to be a good way to cool down in summer. This is why, in summer, you can expect to see some pop-up haunted attractions—many of which will have been designed by renowned haunted house producer Hirofumi Gomi himself. For one, Tokyo Dome City has had a summertime-only haunted house attraction every year since the early ’90s.
But for those of you that won’t be visiting in summer, fear not—we’ve rounded up some Tokyo haunted house attractions that are open all year round.
1. Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear
You might have seen or heard of this haunted hospital somewhere, as it’s known as Japan’s longest, most famous, and most terrifying haunted house attraction.
The backstory is that the hospital was once used for human experimentation, until patients’ ghosts haunted and killed the doctors and nurses. However, it wasn’t enough that the ghosts got revenge; their anger and suffering are so strong that they still haunt the abandoned site to this day. And so, visitors have to walk through a 900-meter maze of a hospital as ghouls lurk at every corner—waiting not just to give you a quick scare, but also to chase after you in some case.
On average, the attraction takes 40-50 minutes to complete, although some take as long as an hour. (Those extra 10 minutes might not seem like much, but when you’re at a horror attraction, a few minutes can feel like a lifetime.) The faint of heart can buy a glow-in-the-dark omamori (amulet) for an additional fee, which serves as a signal for the actors to scare you less. If that’s not enough, the hospital is filled with clearly marked escape routes.
Prepare to wait in line for a while—as long as 2.5 hours, even—for this attraction, as staff admit people in small groups for maximum thrill. Also, be sure to have at least one companion, as staff do not admit solo guests. Children of elementary school age must be accompanied by a guardian of junior high school age or older, while small children are not allowed.
Access: Fujikyu-Highland Station; buses from Tokyo also available (see here for details)
Hours: Varies per season (usually opens at between 8-9 am; closes between 5-6 pm during off-peak days season, or 7-8 pm during peak times)
Admission: ¥2,500 (¥1,500 for entrance + ¥1,000 for the attraction) (You can also buy Fuji Q general admission tickets with priority entrance for 3 rides online).
Fuji Q Highland
2. Onryou Zashiki
The brainchild of Japan’s haunted house master Hirofumi Gomi, and featuring visual effects by digital art experts teamLab, Onryou Zashiki (English name: Tatami Room of Apparitions) recently opened in April 2018.
The backstory reads like a modern version of the classic Japanese horror tale Yotsuya Kaidan; beneath this house of horrors lies the body of Yoko, whose husband, along with his mistress, conspired to kill her with a poisoned face powder. Can you explore the house to find her ghost, apply an antidote to her face, and thus help her find peace? Or will Yoko kill you of fright first? Take off your shoes and step into this haunted Japanese home—and be careful, as your bare feet may be vulnerable to attack…
Onryou Zashiki will occasionally have special events for that extra scare factor. To kick things off, the attraction will have a summer special, Onryou Zashiki Extreme, from July 14-September 24, 2018. Visitors have an extra mission: to bind the ghost with rope. Visit at night if you want a challenge, as this haunted house will be in hard mode at night.
Access: Korakuen or Suidobashi Station
Hours: 10:00 am-9:00 pm (11:00 am-9:00 pm on weekdays from December-February)
Tokyo Dome City Attractions
3. Daiba Strange School
Located in a shopping mall, this haunted school stands out with its decrepit facade and morbid decor. Equipped with a light, visitors explore this so-called cursed school—abandoned for over 40 years after a student’s suicide sparked numerous copycat suicides and mysterious deaths—to put restless students’ spirits to rest. While much smaller than the haunted hospital (this one takes 10-15 minutes to complete), prepare to be spooked nonetheless.
Where: 4/F DECKS Tokyo Beach Seaside Mall, Daiba 1-6-1, Minato Ward, Tokyo
Access: Tokyo Teleport or Daiba Station
Hours: 11:00 am-8:00 pm (weekdays); up to 9:00 pm on weekends and holidays
Admission: 800 yen
4. Sakura no Onrei
For something more old-school, try this haunted house on the grounds of Hanayashiki, Japan’s oldest amusement park. This attraction was recently renovated, but it still retains its retro ambiance. With no age restrictions (although children aged 4 and below must be accompanied by a guardian), this is a more child-friendly and less spooky option. Rumor has it, though, that this haunted house is actually haunted, so beware!
Hours: Varies per season (usually 10:00 am-6:00 pm)
Admission: ¥1,100 (¥1,000 for entrance + ¥100 for the attraction) | ¥2,300 (ride-all-you-can pass)
Horror troupe Obaken specializes in zombie events, but they’ve also got a haunted house, in a residential area of all places. Why choose an unassuming neighborhood? Well, old houses can be creepy too—remember The Grudge?
While the theme and story regularly change, Obaken’s attraction is generally a cross between an escape game and a haunted house in that visitors have to solve mysteries as they walk through the house. As of this writing, the backstory is that you’ve seen a listing on a real estate agency for a suspiciously cheap apartment. What could be the reason for that insanely cheap price? Oh, nothing, maybe just some previous tenants that continue to live rent-free…
The attraction takes 60 minutes to complete. Reservations are required beforehand, as Obaken staff will meet you at the station to take you to the location. Also, the staff do not speak English, so unfortunately, if you can’t speak Japanese, it’s best to get a Japanese-speaking friend to accompany you.
Access: Honancho Station
Hours: 2:00 pm-9:00 pm (weekdays); 12:00 pm-9:00 pm (weekends)
Admission: ¥2,500 (advanced selling) / ¥2,900 (at the door)
6. Real Escape Room Asakusa
Real Escape Game Asakusa—operated by SCRAP, Japan’s leader in escape-room entertainment—has one horror-themed escape room, which happens to be another Gomi creation. As of this writing, the theme is “Survive the Urban Legend.” Players take on the role of investigators entering a mysterious “house of no return” where people enter but never leave. Can you solve the mystery within the one-hour time limit and survive? What horrors lurk inside the house? You’ll just have to find out for yourself…
The game can be played in English and Chinese. Reservations are not required, but are highly encouraged.
Where: Azumabashi 1-17-2, Sumida Ward, Tokyo
Access: Asakusa Station