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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Becoming the kuchisake onna (slit mouthed woman)


I got off the plane from Kawasaki and went straight to work, and then left work pretty much when I am supposed to (which is much earlier than I normally leave) and went home to ruin my face. This year I wanted to do something for Halloween that was not a zombie but that was more Japanese. I read a book about Japanese yokai (legendary creatures) and found the kuchisake onna ("slit mouthed woman") that seemed reasonably easy to recreate.

Kuchisake onna is a gaudily dressed woman wearing a mask (common in Japan when you have a cold for example) that walks up to people (mainly children) and asks: "Am I beautiful?". If you answer "No", she kills you by stabbing you with a pair of scissors. If you answer "Yes" she removes her mask, showing that her mouth has been slit up to her ears. She asks: "Even like this?" and if you say "No", she kills you. If you say "Yes", she uses her scissors to slit your mouth too, to make you like her (since you said think that is beautiful), so there is no really good answer.

During the weeks before Halloween I spent several days looking for girly clothes that might fit me. I bought a red dress (kuchisake onna usually wears red) for 320 yen or so (3 dollars, very cheap) in a store that had a special sale. This dress turned out to be really really small (size L) on me, though. It was super tight, and was not long enough to cover my underwear...

I found a recycle shop (they buy and sell used items) that had a nice looking red dress for 400 yen that I bought instead. This turned out to fit me fairly well, and I was quite happy. Later people pointed out that it is made like a mesh, so you can in fact see through most of the dress on closer inspection. Luckily, I was wearing funny underwear, so that was more or less OK, though. I was pretty cold at night when walking outside, since the slightest wind blew straight through the dress.

I found a pair of very high heeled shoes for 500 yen in the place where I bought my kimono for my ghost costume. Japanese girl shoe size XXL turned out to be size 39 in the system where I normally wear size 42, though. So they were really really small. I could get them on, but he toes hurt something fierce. I have walked in high heels before, and it is usually not a problem. These heels were very thin spike heels, so it was a bit wobbly in the stairs, though.

Since the dress I had bought was pretty tight, I figured I would have to wear a bra. Otherwise it would look strange, because you could see that the dress was tight enough that you should see the lines of the bra underneath. I first tried the 100-yen shops nearby. They used to sell bras for 100 yen (everything is 100 yen), but they no longer sold bras. I ended up going to a normal underwear store and looked through the sale corner.

I have been told by drunk women that have felt my chest (in Japan, lots of people that I do not know come up to me and touch me in all sorts of places) that I am a B cup in the Japanese scale (I am told by my Swedish female friends that Japanese cup sizes are not the same as Swedish cup sizes, a Japanese B is a Swedish A, or so I am told). I have no clue what my "under bust" measurements are, so I ended up discussing bra sizes with the girl working there. She explained that 70 is the medium Japanese girl size, so I figured I would need something much bigger. The best bra design in the sale corner was only available in sizes up to 80, so I bought that. It turned out to fit very well. I had some serious bra impressions in my skin when the Halloween parties were over, though.

I built a slit mouth using tissue that I glued to my face and then painted with some skin colored foundation from the 100 yen shop, some black face paint left over from last Halloween, some fake blood I made from syrup and food coloring, and white face paint also left over from some zombie event (to fix the parts of the tissue that I wanted to be white but had ended up coloring in the process). I made myself into the kuchisake onna both on October 31 and on November 1, for two different magic shows I had been asked to do.

I noticed both times that while I am getting used to make gross stuff (zombie makeup etc.) I have no sense at all when it comes to doing "normal" or "pretty" makeup. The kuchisake onna is believed to wear heavy female makeup, so I put on fake eyelashes etc., but the result was not very good.

The kuchisake onna is Japanese, so she has long black hair. I found a wig like that for about 1000 yen, which looked OK. I also bought a small purse for a few hundred yens. It could fit my cell phone, my wallet, my camera, and my keys.

Since I was supposed to do magic, it would have been nice to have some pockets for some of the tricks, but apparently clothes for girls do not have pockets so I had to do without. The magic went more or less OK anyway. I had lots of stuff in a paper bag on the floor instead, and took out things to use from there. In the beginning I was careful not to spread my legs when bending down to reach into the bag, but since I am not use to wearing short dresses, at some times when I had lots of other things (magic procedures) on my mind, some guys in the audience complained about me showing too much. I had funny underwear on, so I do not think it was much of a problem, and even started thinking about doing this on purpose as a distraction when there is something you need to do that you do not want the audience to see.

The first party I was scheduled to perform at was quite far away from where I live, so I took the subway there. No one looked much in my direction or commented on my appearance, which was a bit sad. When I rode the subway in zombie makeup, lots of people kept talking about me.

Riding the subway

A few times during these nights people came up to me and said things like: "Before you started speaking, I thought you were a woman". I am not sure if this is a good thing, but it might be. At one of the parties, there were 5 other performances apart from my magic. There was only one room backstage, and while I was there looking over my props before it was time for me to go on stage, a girl from a dancing troupe came in after their performance was over. She looked at me for awhile and said: "You are actually a man, right?" and then asked me to leave the room, since she was going to change into her Halloween costume instead of the performance costume. I was the next person to go on stage, so I was a bit concerned about this, but since my preparations were pretty much finished, I did leave. She came out before it was my turn to go on stage, so I could go back in and do the final preparations too. She also spoke to me in Swedish, with a very strong Swedish dialect from the southern parts, which was the most surprising thing to happen to me that month, I think. Not many Japanese girls speak Swedish to me.

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