Ancestors are believed to exist among the living during summer - particularly in the week of 'お盆' (Obon).
My friend retells the story of the frightening experience he had with a deceased family member in his grandfather's home.
My friend's grandfather lives in a squat, urban home an hour west of Nagoya city in Aichi prefecture.
Squashed amongst factories and rusting sheds, the two-storey home was built mid-century with outdated tell-tale designs of rusted tin exterior, carpet-patched tatami flooring, and a single plastic-tub basin in the kitchen.
Ascending a flight of narrow wooden stairs, the second storey has two multi-functional rooms.
The room farthest from the stairs is used as storage and remembrance with over-sized portraits of deceased ancestors lining the walls.
The main bedroom on the opposite hall is where the glaring face lives.
In the form of a water stain against the ceiling, the face watches over those who sleep in the room at night; believed to be a physical manifestation of a past family member.
My friend and his younger brother spent their childhood at their grandfather's home, and would grow increasingly irksome and impatient with each other in sibling quarrels as the summer temperatures reached a peak each year.
One evening, after a match of bickering and threats, my friend sneered to his younger brother that the face would surely smite him in his sleep.
“I've seen it move closer and closer to you at night. You will definitely die!”
Terrified, the younger brother chose to sleep in his grandfather's room, and my friend was ordered to sleep alone in the second-floor room facing the stairs that night.
When night came, my friend felt the loneliness of being segregated from his family members, and decided to sneak into their bedroom.
Unpeeling himself from the futon covers, he felt a jolt of panic when he glanced to the ceiling to see the face had vanished.
Too afraid to stay in the room any longer, my friend scurried to the door only to have his stomach clench in horror.
The water stain was on the door, almost ten times its original size as if to emphasise the large, leering eyes and gaping, ragged mouth of the glaring face.
Even in the darkness of night, my friend recalls the terror when, as he shuffled to be out of sight range of the glaring face, the eyes refocused to leer at his every move.
Twenty-five years later, he still refuses to sleep in that room without company.
Hiding from Japanese Ghosts
Ghost stories are the least frightening thing about Japan when facing culture clashes, mystery food, language barriers, and - scariest of all - marriage.