Originally posted on 6 December 2014
Source: Complete Guide, page 117, 162, 169

Fatal Frame V: True Scary Stories

A collection of ghost stories, as recollected by director Shibata, found throughout the book.

■Man at the emergency exit

Planner T is a woman who speaks her mind, who said at the end of her final day on the job, "I've kept quiet about this until now, but there's always a man's ghost standing in front of the emergency exit on this floor. It looks like a black shadow to me. Whenever one of the staff leaves, it follows after them. But the next day it will be standing in the same place, and go off with someone else. Well then, thank you for everything," and when they heard it the entire floor was so silent you could hear a pin drop. Then, I remembered something.

There was a whiteboard stood near the emergency exit, and I had seen a man through a gap between the board and its metal frame. I had only been able to see through this gap, so I thought I had made some kind of mistake, but it matched up with the place where T said she had seen him. To me the man hadn't looked like a black shadow, but rather a thin man wearing a red-checked shirt.

I had the opportunity to meet with T again afterwards, so I inquired further. The black man had originally been at an intersection in Imoaraizaka, but had followed someone to the office, and each time someone left - particularly when a male staff member went home - he would follow after them. T couldn't tell what colour the man's clothing was, and always saw him as a black shadow.

The man's ghost is no longer at the office. I've stopped seeing him, so I think he's gone. Or perhaps he was at the male staff member's house...

T said she sees ghosts sometimes, so I took the opportunity to ask her if she had seen the spirit of a child. I had great expectations with my question, but she casually replied that she hadn't seen the ghost of a child, but there had been a woman floating in midair all the time...

I hadn't seen the woman at all, but I did realise that it seems as though a man, woman and child are - in game-speak - the standard pattern here at this office.

■At Mt. Koya

Mt. Koya - one of Japan's three sacred mountain ranges. If you do not have a car, then both ascending and looking around it are quite inconvenient. I had no car, so I decided to use the Nankai Electric Railway cable car, the sole route.

Since I was strolling around Mt. Koya until late, I only just about managed to slip in in time to make the last Nankai line car.

As the cable car swayed its way through the dark forest, the afternoon's fatigue caught up with me and at some point I fell asleep. I have no idea for how long I slept; when I awoke all of a sudden, an indoor announcement was saying, "This is Hashimoto, the last stop on the line."

I would just about make the transfer from the last car to my hotel in time, so I quickly got off the cable car and began to run - but something was off. The station was deserted, with no roof, and the only thing in the surrounding area was dark, rainy forest. I was uneasy, wondering if perhaps a timeslip had occurred, when a station attendant ran over to me.

"Are you alright? I thought something seemed weird, but there's nothing here."

The station attendant had stopped the car and waited for me. I only heard afterwards, but the PA system had, most likely, coincidentally happened to malfunction, and played a terminal announcement at an empty station in the mountains.

I believe that this was not a paranomal experience or anything like that, but a mechanical malfunction, but I do think that, from the station attendant's perspective, seeing a man suddenly get off the last car and run into the forest seems like a horror scenario.

Based on this experience, I put a scene into the game also where the cable car suddenly coems to a stop, and you have no choice but to walk through the rainy forest.

■At Tojinbo

This happened when I went to Tojinbo, a famous suicide spot.

Tojinbo has precipitous cliffs that look as though they might appear in a picture from Tuesday Suspense Theatre, and it is said that if you jump from there, your body will be washed away by the tides and not found. There is also something called the "Phone of Life" by the road up to Tojinbo, so I had prepared myself for a creepy place, but what greeted me was a scene of beauty, with the setting sun glistening on the sea, so much so that I thought I might, in a good way, be sucked into it.

As I watched the sunset, I spotted a metal plate, of the kind you commonly see at tourist attractions, by the cliff's edge with the origins of Tojinbo written on it. As I tried to read it, I saw some kind of scratch marks that looked to have been made by something thin and sharp.

Evening sunlight shone down, and was bright enough for me to tell that the marks were characters. The first read "life", but I couldn't quite make out what came next so I changed my position a few times and gradually began to be able to read the words. The rest said, in warped characters, "life is nothing but grief, suffering and hatred".

When I was done reading, I felt the sensation of something softly lifting my backside. Not like the blowing of a sudden wind, but seemingly more like being lifted up with both hands. I was on the verge of falling into the sea. These words were ones I should not have read - if you attune yourself to them, perhaps you jump from there.

We had also prepared an event for the game in which, if you read a person's suicide note at the top of a cliff, you would steadily be dragged into the cliff and could free yourself if you took a photo of a ghost before you fell, but we couldn't get the feeling of being pushed from behind right, and gave up.

■Grey woman

This happened when I went to the food court at a department store.

It was afternoon, the most congested time of day. A large, round sofa was in the centre of the food court, and there was enough seating for several people nearby, and amongst them sat a woman in tattered clothing, with a boy dressed in a similar fashion beside her. They were both looking down, and I couldn't see their faces.

The food court had just been done up, so it was a clean and fancy-feeling place, so this parent and child sitting there with such a defeated aura about them stood out, and you would think that perhaps someone would be concerned and approach them, but everyone ignored them and walked on past. Worried, I approached them, thinking to try talking to them, when I felt some discomfort.

The area around only the pair was coloured grey, and their hair fluttered slowly despite there being no breeze. I realised that I shouldn't get involved with this, but the mother slowly began to look up. I reflexively tried to avoid her gaze, but our eyes were going to meet. "I didn't see you, didn't see you," I repeated mentally, forcing myself to enter the nearest restaurant.

I ate my meal as slowly as I could inside the restaurant, thinking that soon enough they would go away, but as I was leaving I looked at the sofa from earlier out of the corner of my eye, and the pair were still sitting on it, hanging their heads. Since then, I haven't been to the food court at that department store.

There is a scene in the game in which a student Yuuri tries to avoid meeting the eyes of a ghost in the street, which is based upon this experience.

■Innocent child

As the final stages of development approached, I spent each night sleeping in a sleeping bag. That day, as always, I was lying down in the sleeping bag I had laid out in the conference room. As I tried to get to sleep, I saw something white from behind the partition screen in the room. A boy of about four, with fair skin, bobbed hair and wearing a kimono with white kasuri, was peeking at me.

"Aren't you sleeping?" the boy asked, but I was at the height of my tiredness and loudly said, "I'm asleep! Just look at me!" and the boy, with a teasing laugh, ran away.

■Ghost border

The games' cutscenes have been handled since Tsukihami no Kamen by a CG-creating company called Shirogumi. This is an experience a producer at Shirogumi, I, told me about.

"I" suddenly sat up in the middle of the night. Thinking this strange, his wife asked, "What's the matter?" to which he replied, "The ghost border," and went back to sleep.

I himself doesn't remember saying it, but when he heard the story the next morning from his wife, he received the request from me that very same day to do CG work, and so told me that it was far too good to be coincidental.