Kunekune is a Japanese urban legend about a mysterious apparition that is sometimes seen in the countryside. In Japan people call it “kune kune” which means something that is meandering, swaying or twisting and turning. They say you should never look directly at it, or it will drive you insane.
Kunekune is described as an unidentifiable white squiggle, moving back and forth in the distance. Nobody knows exactly what it looks like because anyone who has seen it has lost their mind. One Japanese man tells of an encounter he had as a child with the kune kune:
When I was young, my parents brought my older brother and I to visit my grandfather and grandmother. We didn’t see her very much because she lived way out in the countryside, in Akita.
As soon as we arrived at our grandparents’ house, my brother and I went out to play. The air was much fresher and cleaner than it was in the city. We walked through the rice fields, enjoying the wide open spaces.
The sun was high in the sky and there was no breeze. The heat was stifling and after a while, I started to get tired.
Then, my brother stopped suddenly. He was staring at something in the distance.
“What are you looking at?” I asked.
“That thing over there,” he replied.
The rice fields stretched as far as the eye could see, and the area was completely deserted. I squinted my eyes, but I couldn’t make out what it was. Far away, across the fields, there was a white thing, about the size of a person. It was moving and wriggling as if it was fluttering in the breeze.
“Maybe it’s a scarecrow,” I said.
“That’s not a scarecrow,” my brother replied. “Scarecrows don’t move like that.”
“Maybe it’s a sheet, then,” I said.
“No, it’s not a sheet,” he replied. “There are no other houses around here. Besides, there’s no wind but it’s still moving and wriggling. What the heck is that thing?”
I had a strange and uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
My brother ran back to the house and when he returned, he was carrying a pair of binoculars.
“Oh! Can I see?” I asked, excitedly.
I made a grab for the binoculars, but he pushed me back.
“No, me first!” he said with a chuckle. “I’m the oldest. You can have a look when I’m done.”
As soon as my brother put the binoculars up to his eyes, I noticed his expression suddenly changed. His face grew pale and he broke out into a sweat. He dropped the binoculars on the ground and I could see fear in his eyes.
“What was it?” I asked, nervously.
My brother replied slowly.
“There it is… There it is… There it is…”
It was not my brother’s voice.
Without another word, he turned and started walking back to the house. Something didn’t feel right. With trembling hands, I bent down and picked up the binoculars, but I was too scared to look through them.
In the distance, the white object was still twisting and turning.
Just then, my grandfather came running over.
“What are you doing with those binoculars?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I replied. “Just looking at that white thing over there.”
“What?” he shouted. “You shouldn’t look at that!”
He snatched the binoculars from my grasp.
“Did you see it?” he demanded angrily. “Did you look at it through the binoculars?”
“No,” I said in a meek voice. “Not yet…”
My grandfather sighed with relief. “Good,” he said. “That’s good…”
Without knowing why, I was sent back to the house.
When I walked into the kitchen, everyone was crying. My brother was rolling aroundon the ground, laughing like a crazy person. He was on his back and his body was wriggling and twisting… just like the white thing in the distance.
I couldn’t understand what was going on. It was horrible to see him like that. I burst into tears.
He wasn’t my brother anymore. He had completely lost his mind.
The next day, my parents decided to take us home. My grandmother and grandfather stood on their porch, waving sadly to us as the car pulled away. I sat in the back seat with my brother, wiping the tears from my eyes.
My brother was still laughing like a mental patient. They had to tie him up to stop him moving around. His face was twisted into a wide smile. He looked like he was happy, but when I saw his eyes, I realized he was crying. It sent a chill down my spine. His cheeks were wet with tears but he just kept laughing and laughing…
My father pulled over to the side of the road and got out of the car. He took out the binoculars and furiously smashed them on the street. Then, without saying anything, he got back into the car and kept on driving.
Another Japanese man tells of his experience with the twister (kune kune) when he was a young boy:
When I was a little boy, I lived in a small town by the sea shore in Chiba prefecture. One evening, my uncle took me for a walk on the beach. As we strolled down the strand, I looked out to sea and noticed something white in the distance. It was long and thing and swaying back and forth. I wondered what it could be.
“What’s that thing in the sea?” I asked my uncle.
He gazed at it and I saw his eyes grow wide and his face turn pale. There was a terrified look in his eyes. He couldn’t stop staring at it.
“Run for your life!” he shouted frantically.
I didn’t know what was going on, but I was scared, so I ran back home and told my grandfather. He went pale.
“That’s kune kune,” he said. “You’re lucky you got away from it. You should never look directly at it. Where is your uncle?”
“He’s still at the sea shore,” I replied, my voice shaking.
“I’ve got to rescue my son,” my grandfather said and he took off as fast as he could to the sea shore. I followed close behind him, worried and frightened.
From a distance, I could see my uncle still standing on the beach. It was as if he was frozen to the spot, staring at the white meandering thing, far out to sea. My grandfather broke a branch off a tree and approached my uncle, muttering some kind of prayer under his breath. He kept his eyes cast down, careful not to look at the white thing.
My grandfather managed to drag my uncle away and brought him home. Although my uncle was saved, he suffered from fits of madness and insanity for the rest of his life. Since it happened, he has been in and out of mental homes many times. He was never the same after that.