There is no question that, no matter where you live, summers are hot and getting hotter. We’re not here to talk about the possible causes from a scientific standpoint because it is far more interesting – and potentially chilling -- to look at the effects of heat on paranormal activities. It turns out there have been many reports of an increase in ghost sightings and other spooky experiences in the hot days of summer. While some ghost hunters in England use this as an opportunity to increase their chances of seeing a sweating spirit, people in Japan visit “ghost houses” on hot summer days for a different reason – to cool off. Let’s take a look at both and figure out if you can see more ghosts and reduce your electric bill by moving into an un-air-conditioned haunted house.
“Some paranormal researchers believe that sunlight may increase hauntings. It's based on the theory that hauntings are associated with electromagnetic energy, of course the biggest source of this in our daily lives is the Sun.”
A recent article in Higgypop asks the question: “Can A Heatwave Increase Paranormal Activity Levels?”. It turns out there are both paranormal and scientific answers to the query. If you have seen any ghost hunting movies or television shows, you know that the EMF (electromagnetic frequency) meter is an essential tool for finding spikes in electromagnetic energy that allegedly signal the presence of spirits. If, as paranormal researchers believe, ghosts feed on electromagnetic energy, wouldn’t it behoove them to be feeding during the daytime when the Sun is providing so much for free? Higgypop points out that this is supported by an increase in calls to paranormal investigators during hot days and dry spells. Could there really be a connection?
“We have received a major spike in the number of calls during June and July, with people reporting scary supernatural phenomena. One couple almost afraid to go into their own home because of poltergeists, and residual energies making things move.”
Gary Parsons thought so. Back in 2018 he was running Plymouth Paranormal Investigators (PPI) in Devon when he noticed a spike in temperatures – a peak of 95 F (35 C) is very high for the area – occurred shortly before a spike in ghost calls. Were ghosts feeding on solar electromagnetic energy … or were England’s old houses with no air conditioning noisily expanding in the heat while open windows were causing loud drafts that knock over things just like ghosts do? Higgypop adds that hot weather makes people irritable and causes a lack of sleep – both causes of hallucinations that could be mistaken for ghosts. On the other hand, the theory that spirits feed on solar electromagnetic energy could be right. If that’s the case, should those living in a hot haunted house be forced to leave in order to cool off?
“Japanese naturally connect summer with being scared and feeling cool thanks to that. We have run the summer ghost house here for last 19 years straight, but this year has been special and we have had many more customers thanks to the hot weather.”
In Japan, heat waves don’t drive people out of haunted houses … they attract people TO them! The Japanese word for haunted house is “obake yashiki” and it turns out they play an integral part in keeping cool in the summer months. A heat wave in 2010, when the Japanese Meteorological Agency reported record temperatures reaching 38.3 Celsius (100.9 Fahrenheit) causing hundreds of deaths and more than 30,000 people hospitalized with heatstroke, drove many people to the Tokyo Dome City Attractions amusement park where spokesperson Yoshinosuke Goto reported long lines at the “haunted house” attraction where people spent time having their spines chilled, which they believe makes the rest of the body cool too.
Summer in Japan, especially August, is linked to ghosts and “obake yashiki” because that is the month when Japanese Buddhism teaches that ancestral spirits return for visits – meaning it is also a time when their descendants visit their graves and chill with them, usually during the mid-month festival of O-bon or urabone. The ritual is based on the story of one of the Buddha's disciples, Mokuren, who learns that his deceased mother has ended up in hell and performs a ceremony to save her soul. The ritual has transformed into one that honors the dead and is held in August when it believed the walls between the spiritual world (anoyo) and the world of the living (konoyo) are at their weakest. For those who aren’t interested in the spiritual tradition but still want a reason to party while escaping the heat, the season has evolved to include watching scary movies and visiting haunted houses – both real and the artificial Halloween and amusement park kind.
"Psychologically, being spooked may help us temporarily forget the deadly heat of Japan's summer."
During the sweltering Summer Olympic Games held in Tokyo in 2020, CNN Travel offered athletes and visitors some supernatural tips on keeping cool the scary way. According to Japanese folklorist Origuchi Shinobu, long before there were haunted houses and scary movies, Japanese farmers scared themselves chilly by attending Kabuki theaters performing ghost plays called suzumi shibai (cooling-off plays). Today, there are "horror planners" who help set up permanent or temporary haunted houses – they’re popular for schools or parties. For the 2020 Olympics, CNN recommended a drive-in haunted house (because of coronavirus restrictions) or a mobile horror experience called Mugan (which means "No-face") where a truck with a state of the art sound system arrives to show a horror movie, followed by actors in scary costumes performing a live horror play – kind of a combination obake yashiki, suzumi shibai and food truck.
Let’s get back to your hot haunted summer. Do you think those apparitions you are seeing and hearing are heat-induced hallucinations or electromagnetic-heat-seeking ghosts? Have you tried watching some scary horror movies or visiting a local haunted house? What about visiting an amusement park and leaving the roller coasters to the hot and sweaty while you chill out in the haunted house attraction?
Is summer ghost hunting starting to sound a little less hot and scary and a lot more chilled and fun?