GY 6

Aside from having a way with words and a pleasant smell, it’s a job requirement at RocketNews24 that every man, woman, and child who works for us be physically fit enough to wrestle a crocodile to submission. As part of his quest to keep in fighting shape, our Japanese-language reporter Nakano regularly hits the gym, because if he doesn’t, who knows when we might decide to give his job to someone with more developed pecs.

Sometimes you find yourself running into some strange characters at the fitness center, as we documented in Nakano’s guide to the most annoying people you might meet at the gym. On occasion, though, their behavior goes so far beyond strange that it’s hard to see it as the actions of mundane human beings, and so today we’re taking a look at Nakano’s illustrated list of five people you might encounter in a Japanese gym shower room that are so weird they must be possessed by evil spirits.

Sparing no expense in his exercise regimen, the gym Nakano is a member at has some pretty nice facilities for helping patrons get cleaned up after their workout. But while our reporter is a fan of the Jacuzzi and sauna, he’s not quite so thrilled with some of the people he has to share them with, assuming of course they are just people and not the victims of sinister supernatural influences.

1. Bruce Lee-Imitating Spirit
Habitat: Towel rack
Danger level: 1 (out of 5)

GY 1

It’s easy to tell when someone’s body has been taken over by this particular specter. After emerging from the bath and toweling himself off, he’ll grab one end of his towel and start swinging it back and forth, striking his body with a pronounced slapping sound. While it may look like a makeshift massage, the Bruce Lee-Imitating Spirit is in actuality practicing its nunchaku routine, and the curse cannot be broken until the victim’s entire body is covered in red borderline welts.

Thankfully, the blows are all self-directed when this spirit’s magic is in play, so simply give the poor soul a wide berth and you’ll be safe.

2. Shampoo-Stealing Spirit
Habitat: Shower stall
Danger level: 5

GY 2

We’d have to perform a séance to be certain, but our hypothesis is that these rueful spirits are the ghosts of those who passed away while suffering from a case of dry, itchy scalp. When affected, victims will take empty plastic bottles into the shower and fill them up with the shampoo or liquid body soap provided by the gym.

While they pose less immediate threat than the Bruce Lee-Imitating Spirits, the Shampoo-Stealing Spirits are basically thieves, i.e. criminals, and the long-term health-diminishing effects of poor hygiene they can indirectly cause by not leaving any grooming supplies for anyone else are why their danger level is rated so high.

3. Cold Water Bath Spirit
Habitat: Bathtub
Danger level: 4

GY 3

Traditional Japanese baths are piping hot, but some people hold that after warming the body up, it’s healthy to give it a final, invigorating shock with cold water. While most people will step gingerly into a tub of cold water, possessing a gym patron means the Cold Water Bath Spirit itself is insulated from the chill, as it’s not using its own body.

As such, you can confirm the presence of a Cold Water Bath Spirit when someone jumps into the cold water bath with both feet (or their one and only butt), sending icy droplets flying to pelt all bystanders. The fact that the splash radius is increased when the diver is either muscular or heavyset, two of the most common body types at the gym, makes this spirit all the more unwelcome.

4. Keeper of the Sauna Spirit
Habitat: Sauna
Danger level: 2

GY 4

Often choosing middle-aged or elderly men as their possession targets, the Keeper of the Sauna Spirits are among the least active of the supernatural denizens you’ll find in a Japanese gym. After taking control of a host’s body, the spirit will head into the sauna and take a seat. Once in position, it will wait, using its psychic powers to assault anyone else who enters the sauna with waves of anxiety over whether saying hello is required as a matter of common courtesy or prohibited as part of the Guy Code that generally discourages small talk with strangers in situations where both of you are naked.

Unlike the riddle of the sphinx, there is no right answer to the dilemma of the Keeper of the Sauna Spirit. Either course of action will result in an unpleasant atmosphere and more sweating than the temperature alone calls for.

5. Balls Floating Atop the Jacuzzi Water Spirit
Habitat: Jacuzzi
Danger level: 3

GY 5

Opinions are divided on the benefits of cold water baths, and for every person who enjoys a sit in the sauna you can find another who doesn’t. Just about everyone, though, appreciates a nice soak in a hot tub to relax their muscles following a good workout.

The nicer Japanese gyms have Jacuzzi-style baths in their changing rooms. They’re used Japanese-style, which means you shower and rinse off first, then soak naked, often in a tub that’s big enough to accommodate multiple people at the same time.

But while communal bathing is no big deal in Japanese culture, sometimes you’ll find yourself sharing the warm water with someone who’s been possessed by a Balls Floating Atop the Jacuzzi Water Spirit. If you’re unsure if the phenomena you’re witnessing qualifies as such a manifestation, consult this two-point checklist.

1. Is there someone else in the tub?
2. Are his balls floating atop the Jacuzzi water?

If you answered “yes” to both questions, then it’s official, you’re soaking in the presence of a supernatural entity. Thankfully, these aren’t malicious spirits. Rather, they’re benevolent forces that briefly inhabit the bodies of older gentlemen, attempting to stimulate their privates to help them regain some of the vigor and virility of their youth by standing up the host body at the precise height where the bubbles breaking from the surface of the water tickle the testicles.

So really, there’s nothing to fear. Oh, except the balls.

Images: Mamiyak46
[ Read in Japanese ]