The midnight charms of an onsen town.

All over Japan, you’ll find towns with unique selling points, be it water-spouting merlions in Tagawa, or fishy torii gates overlooking the ocean in Chiba.

Up in Miyagi Prefecture, though, there’s a charming little onsen town in Osaki City called Naruko, and that’s where you’ll find a phone booth that looks like something from a horror film.

Twitter user @atago_xion snapped the photo above and shared it online, saying it gave them chills after coming across it at night. And it truly is frightening, especially when you find out more about Japanese dolls, and the particular type that this bodiless one on the phone booth represents.

First off, to answer the question of why the phone booth exists, it’s because of the history of the area, which has strong ties to kokeshi doll-making. Naruko first became synonymous with kokeshi back in 1915, when artisans began carving the dolls out of wood for the children of onsen visitors, and the style of doll made in the area was distinguished by its long cylindrical body, squared-off shoulders and slightly curved hourglass shape.

The dolls made in Naruko, called “Naruko Kokeshi“, are one of 11 official kinds of kokeshi dolls in Japan, and what sets them apart from the others, aside from their shape, is the fact that they sound like they’re crying when their heads are turned.

▼ It’s almost as if you can hear the doll crying in the darkness.

Add to that the fact that in Japan, every doll is believed to have a soul living inside it, with funeral services even being performed for them, and this phone booth takes on an extra eerie persona.

Online commenters agreed that the scene was disturbing, saying:

“Kokeshi dolls always frighten me.”
“This is too scary!”
“It’s like a scene from a horror film.”

“If you look closely at kokeshi dolls, they’re so creepy…”
“If you enter the phone box, you won’t ever be able to leave again!”

It would take a brave soul to enter the body of this doll to make a phone call in the middle of the night, but during the light of day, the doll is said to have a more pleasant persona. Either way, locals shouldn’t be too worried about the giant kokeshi in their midst — at least it isn’t truly haunted, like this phone booth in Tokyo.

Source: Twitter/@atago_xion via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Pakutaso 
Insert image: Twitter/@atago_xion
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