The Red Cape is a scary urban legend from Japan about a family who receive a visit one snowy night from a mysterious man in a red cloak. They say this is a true story and it inspired the Japanese Urban Legend of Red Cloak or “Aka Manto”.
In the Winter 1935, there was a harsh blizzard in a small village in Japan. A cold wind was sweeping through the houses, the snow was falling heavily on the roofs and a family of five lay asleep in their beds, unaware that they were about to receive a very strange visitor.
Just after midnight, they were awoken from their peaceful slumber by a loud knock at the front door. The father and mother got out of bed and went to answer it, while the children stumbled out of their bedrooms, wondering who could be disturbing them at this time of night.
When the father opened the door, he found a stranger standing outside. The man was covered, from head to toe, in a long red cape. He was holding up a lantern and his face was hidden in the shadow of his red hood.
“I have been sent by your relatives,” said the man. “Your mother has been struck down by a sudden illness and her condition is very serious. She wants to see you before she dies.”
The husband hurriedly dressed and, after kissing his wife and children goodbye, he left with the man in the red cape. Together, they set out on the journey to his mother’s house, which lay in the neighboring village. His wife waited anxiously for him to return while the children went back to bed.
A couple of hours passed and there was another loud knock on the door. When the mother answered it, she was surprised to see the man in the red cape again.
“Your husband sent me back to fetch you,” he said. “His mother’s condition is getting worse. It is very likely that she will not last until the morning. He said he needs you by his side when the time comes.”
Just as her husband had done before her, the wife didn’t waste any time and quickly got dressed. She took her children to the house of her neighbor, a middle-aged woman, and asked her to take care of them while she was away. With that, she said her goodbyes and followed the man in the red cape out into the snowy night.
About an hour or two later, there was a loud knock at the door of the neighbor’s house. The man in the red cape was waiting outside and he asked to speak to the children.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your grandmother has passed away,” he said. “Your parents told me to come back and pick you up. They’re waiting for you at your grandmother’s house.”
The children were about to leave with the strange man, when the neighbor grew suspicious and stopped them. She stood in the doorway and refused to let them go.
“You can’t take children out on a night like this,” she told the man, sternly. “We’re in the middle of a blizzard. They’ll catch their death of cold. There’ll be time enough tomorrow. If their grandmother is dead tonight, she’ll still be dead in the morning.”
The man in the red cape kept insisting, but the neighbor was a stubborn woman and refused to budge an inch. The man wouldn’t take no for an answer, but when the neighbor grabbed her broom and threatened to beat him within and inch of his life, he reluctantly gave up and walked off into the driving snow.
The next morning, the countryside was covered in a thick blanket of snow. An old man got up early and despite the cold weather, he decided to go out for a walk. As he was crossing the long wooden bridge that lay at the entrance to the village, he noticed something strange. There were some bright red patches in the snow. Looking closer, he was horrified when he realized that they were bloodstains.
Leaning against the railing of the bridge was a bloody axe. The old man grew frightened. The signs were unmistakable. There had been a murder. He hurried to the police station in the center of the village and reported everything he had found.
The police searched the area and found the bodies of the missing father and mother floating in the river. They had been brutally slaughtered and their heads had been chopped off with an axe. After talking to their children and the neighbor, the police were in no doubt as to who was responsible.
The mysterious man in the red cape had to be the killer and it was clear that he had been trying to lure the children into going with him as well. If the neighbor woman hadn’t stepped in when she did, the evil man would have murdered the children too.
This incident was a major event at that time and it shook the residents of the little village to their very core. None of them would ever again feel safe in their beds at night. The police never managed to discover the identity of the man in the red cape and the case remains unsolved to this day. Nobody ever got a good look at his face that night and the strange visitor disappeared into the night as suddenly and as mysteriously as he had arrived.