While the idea of a haunted house is scary, the thought of a haunted dam holding back millions of gallons of water at the whim of a ghost is downright terrifying. That’s what many believe is the case in Japan, where a haunted dam attracts enough ghost hunters, paranormal enthusiasts and attempted suicides that the government is trying to change its reputation and debunk or at least downplay its haunted reputation in the name of safety. Should you believe the ghost or the government?
The end result of the construction of the Shimokubo Dam is Kanna Lake, a reservoir popular with fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. It was created to prevent the type of flooding caused in 1947 by Typhoon Kathleen, which killed over 1,000 people. While that seems like a noble cause, the construction of the dam between the cities of Fujioka and Kamikawa was controversial. The land needed required relocating many residents and the area was considered sacred. Workers said to have been killed doing the dangerous construction work were the very people who were being moved out by the dam and there are urban legends of bodies left unburied that were covered by the reservoir’s waters.
If that’s not enough to bring back ghosts, there’s also the murder.
Knowing the displaced people were angry and many of them had moved back and were living near the dam and causing turmoil, the government erected a Buddhist statue as a way of making peace. According to another legend, that didn’t please the Arai family, especially the patriarch who believed he heard whispers and screams at night. The tale ends with him going insane and killing his family and himself. The frightened/angry/despondent townspeople erected their own statue and preserved (or at least left standing) the house of Arai, which of course is believed to be haunted by the family, whose murder does not show up on any official records.
Then there’s the haunted bridge.
Completed in 1968 over a portion of the lake, the Kanpira or Kotohira Bridge is said to be cursed and may have aided in the demise of the Arai family. People have reported hearing female screams, seeing hands rising from the water and having just plain uneasy feelings … feelings that cause some to contemplate and occasionally commit suicide, some even reporting a feeling that hands are trying to push them over the rail or guide their car off the road.
Needless to say, whether the ghost tales are real or urban legends, it’s hurting the wholesome image (if dams can have such a thing) of the Kanna Lake area. As a result, the Japan Water Agency’s Shimokubo Dam Operation and Maintenance Office came up with this brilliant idea – music. Japan News reports that they installed motion sensors in a parking lot at the dam and, when cars or people are detected between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., a speaker on one side plays the theme song of local superhero group (singers dressed as superheroes) Kijin Sentai Dam Saver — “Water Fantasia”— while one on the other side plays “Jojiman Ondo: Chaji-kyo mo Wasurezuni (Georgeman’s dance song: Don’t forget Sir. Charge),” composed by a group of dam aficionados.
Does it work? The sensors and speaker were just installed, so it will take a while. If the results are positive, they may want to sell the system to other haunted dams like the Hoover Dam (crying sounds, ghosts of workers), the Hales Bar Dam in Tennessee (built on cursed Native American land), Devil’s Gate Dam in California (built on an alleged opening to the underworld) and the Teton Dam in Idaho (haunted by victims of flood caused by a 1975 collapse and by demons from occult activities).
Is that enough to say that dams are damned?