I Don’t Believe in Ghosts, But
My experience in a Japanese apartment was too eerie to ignore
I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and was much more interested in comedies or movies of youth like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Breakfast Club. And although I enjoyed sci-fi movies like Back to the Future or Ghostbusters, it was more for the acting, special effects, and the fact they poked fun at the entire paranormal or supernatural sci-fi genre.
The reason I mention this is to make the case that I am the last person to believe in ghosts, aliens or time travel.
But after experiencing some weird and scary things in a Japanese apartment I was staying at, I have opened my mind to the possibility that maybe there is some grain of truth to the countless stories of people’s paranormal experiences.
The apartment in question had several strange things that happened often and without explanation. But first some back story.
I was living in a city in Japan called Nagoya as an English teacher at a private school. The school provided all teachers with company apartments and I was placed in a small area just outside the city near a station called Kitayama. From the station, my apartment was a five-minute walk.
The apartment complex was a two-story building with only 10 units. I was on the second floor in unit 202. The apartment was a typical Japanese studio apartment; meaning it was tiny. The bathroom had a toilet, sink and shower all crowded together with the sink literally hanging over the bathtub.
The kitchen was actually just a kitchenette built into a wall with one burner, a sink, and room for a small fridge like you would find in a hotel.
The room wasn’t very big so all I had was a television, coffee table and a mattress pushed against the wall. The apartment was old, had bamboo flooring, sliding Japanese paper doors, and no closet space so I also had to purchase an external clothing rack.
My job was also about an hour commute and I worked long strange hours so I was only really in my apartment to eat dinner and sleep.
In the first couple of months living in the apartment, there were no problems. I got used to taking off my shoes at the entrance, learned how to shower and shave in the bathroom without bumping my head or knees, and figured out how to organize my kitchenette to get effective use out of the minimal space.
But then I noticed something.
For some reason, my apartment would start shining at around 5 AM. A bright stream of light would come in through the window, reflect off the walls of the house, and wake me up. The intense ray of light almost like a shooting start would burst through my window, hit the walls, and then disappear.
It would wake me up every morning and would fade away after a few seconds. I basically explained it away as something to do with the sunrise. Maybe my apartment was positioned exactly in an angle that as soon as the sun rose, it would directly shine into my window and hit the walls which must have some reflective quality of wallpaper creating a temporary burst of light in my room every morning. It would be gone in seconds as the sun rose so that was my only hypothesis.
But then as the months went on a couple of other things occurred.
It started one day as I was eating breakfast before work. I was sitting on the floor watching the news while eating a bowl of cereal when I heard the water running. And it wasn’t like a drop or leaking faucet but was a powerful rush of water. The faucet in the bathroom was apparently cranked all the way to full and water was rushing into the bathtub drain.
It was really loud and hard to miss so I was confused about how I could have taken a shower, dried myself, changed into my work clothes, gotten cereal, and milk, turned on the TV, and started watching all while not noticing a loud gush of water. I turned it off and went back to my cereal.
Then a few days later it happened again. But this time it happened at night while I was eating dinner. Once again sitting on the floor, watching TV, and eating my yaki-soba noodles, I heard the rush of water in the bathroom again. I walked into the bathroom to once again see the nozzle of the shower cranked to full blast. I turned it off and started getting a bit worried.
I didn’t take showers in the evening so had I left the water running all day from morning until night? Did I remember hearing the water when I came home from work or while I was cooking? I was pretty sure either the faucet was broken or my mind was.
This happened every couple of weeks. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening. Sometimes I was eating breakfast or dinner and other times I was preparing lessons or reading a book.
I called the landlord and someone came by and checked the faucet. They checked the pipes and played around with the nozzle but never fixed or replaced it. The plumber just left dumbfounded and said there was no problem and to call again if it happened again.
But it never happened again.
This one scared me more than the shower because it was harder to chalk it off to faulty plumbing.
I would be watching television and suddenly the volume would start rising on its own. It would go up bar by bar as if someone was pushing the increase volume button on the remote control. It would increase to the highest volume and I would have to quickly rush to get the remote and bring the volume down. Then a few minutes later it would happen again.
I went and bought batteries the next day and replaced them in the remote. Hopefully, that was the problem.
But the next day it happened again. The volume started rising on its own and I would have to keep using the remote to bring it down to normal. I unplugged the TV and thought maybe it was an old set and was malfunctioning.
A few days later I plugged in the television again and started watching the news. And once again the volume started going up automatically.
Now I was scared.
I told my company about the TV being broken since all the furniture belonged to them. They said they would try to replace it but they never did. Instead, I used my laptop computer to watch DVDs I rented from the local video store.
This was the final straw for me and I had to ask my company to change apartments.
One night as I usually do before bed, I pulled on the cord of the hanging light to turn it off and lied down on my mattress waiting for sleep to come. And I am not sure what happened next is if I was sleeping and having a dream or I was awake and this really happened. I hope to God it was a dream though.
I was lying on my mattress in the dark. And since there are a road and street lights outside my apartment area, my apartment is never really pitch dark. I can always make out the shape of my overhead light or my coffee table and television. As I was lying there, I saw a dark shadow outline of a man. I couldn’t see his face or even confirm it was a man. But a man-like shape, almost like a soldier standing guard, was standing at the corner of my mattress. I couldn’t move. I felt like I was pinned to my bed. Not by the man but by some force holding my entire body down.
And I remember feeling dread and panic and pushing with all my might to stand up and turn on the light. It took incredible strength and as I was standing up, the force was pushing me down, so it took a long time to force myself to stand up and reach for the light cord. At the same time, I recall I was screaming. But my scream was also being suppressed so it was like a slow-motion growl. But finally, I reached the cord and pulled.
And once the light came back on, my body felt free and light again. The room was bright and the figure was gone. It was as if nothing had happened.
Once again I don’t know if I was awake during this experience or not. Maybe I was sleeping and woke up as I stood up to turn on the light in my dream.
Either way, it was too scary for me to ignore and decided either my mind or whatever was in this apartment was telling me to leave. And I listened.
After a few conversations with my manager and reasons for why I wanted to move apartments (none of which were real reasons), my manager accepted and I was transferred to another building near another station. And I never had any other strange or unexplained occurrences again.
So either that apartment was haunted and I met my first ghost or something about living there rubbed me the wrong way and my mind was playing tricks on me.
Either way, after that experience I always think twice before writing off ghost stories.
This story originally appears here: https://medium.com/inside-the-simulation/i-dont-believe-in-ghosts-but-c915692f905