Your True Stories of Encounters with Ghosts, the Unexplained, and Small-Town Folklore, from America and Beyond

The House in Front of the Tomb

The tomb behind the house.

Setting: Naha, Okinawa. The early 1970s.

My first encounter with folklore did not occur in the United States of America. I was three years old, and my dad, mother, brother, and I had just moved to Okinawa, when my dad was stationed to the now defunct Naha Air Base.

The first house we moved into was not on the base. Rather, it was Gaijin housing in what was called the Oroku District back then. The small, shabby pink house with blue typhoon shutters was tucked away in a corner at the top of a hill, behind a screen of overgrown tropical plants, as if it was guarding a secret. Perhaps the little house was. It happened to be built in front of a sky gray turtle-back tomb, one of the thousands of Okinawan-style tombs that populate the Ryukyu Islands.

The night we moved into the house, we pulled into the driveway on the side of it. We arrived long after the sun had set, and I clearly remember straining my eyes in the dark to see the blue “X” shapes on the typhoon shutters. My dad mentioned that the shutters were probably useful not only for protecting the house against typhoons but also useful for keeping out the “stealy boys”. “Stealy boys” is a phrase that Okinawans use for burglars. The phrase might bring to mind an image of misguided yet harmless youth, but in my three-year-old mind, it was frightening. The phrase still spooks me to this day.

The morning after we moved into the house, something bizarre happened. My mother mentioned that she felt as though someone was pulling on her left middle toe. Her toe even stuck out as if it was being pulled. And it didn’t stop. We lived in the shabby little house in front of the tomb for a year and a half, and Mother’s toe stuck out, with the sensation of being pulled, for the entire duration of our stay. There were other paranormal events that occurred during that time, but the one I remember well was Mother and her toe-pulling ghost.

Then one day, we moved out. Dad had acquired Navy housing for us on Naha Air Base. We moved out on my fifth birthday. The day we moved out of that house and into base housing, Mother’s toe suddenly stopped feeling as if it was being pulled. Sure enough, it had gone back into place and was no longer stuck out.

We often wondered if it was a ghost, perhaps one from the tomb behind our house. In doing recent research into stories of the Ryukyu Islands, I have found many, many stories of ghosts. However, I have yet to find a rather comical one featuring a toe-pulling ghost!

Doesn’t it sound like a joke that a specter might play on a beautiful, young American woman?

Or was it just faulty wiring in my mom’s nerves that coincidentally started when we moved in and stopped when we moved?

You be the judge.

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6 Responses to “The House in Front of the Tomb”

  1. Anita Kinman

    Awesome❣ Finally, Folkloregirl❣I could write a book myself about my paranormal experiences throughout my life. I’m Anita Yamashita Ziehl Kinman. Yamashita birth , Ziehl adopted at 7, Kinman married to my hubby, Rick for 38 years. As far back as I can remember I’ve had experiences. First memory is around the age of 4/5 I used to have nightmares of me running on a dark deserted beach , I’d be running and running . The skies were covered with birds , buzzing, louder and louder as they got closer. They were pooping and as I looked up poop is right above me and then everything just goes dark and I feel warm as I wake up and realize I just wet the bed. As I got older my birds turned into planes buzzing above and poop turned into bomb bombs as I would wake up running to the bathroom to pee.I had this reoccurring dream until I was well into my 30s.
    My biological mama is Okinawan. She’s 87 now. My biological father was a American GI that I have never met that I remember. My earliest days I lived in an Okinawan village by Ishikawa Beach. My mother got sick and I was adopted by military couple, Ziehls, at age 7 and moved to Futenma. That was 1965. When I was 7, I was outside playing behind Frank’s Toy Store where someone had passed and was laid out in their home. I was squatted down playing when I looked up I saw a ball of fire with a tail come out of my neighbors’ window and it circled several times around the house before the fireball raised toward the sky and dissipated into the sky. I was very young and didn’t really think much of it afterwards. Never talked about it until as I got older I realized what I had witnessed someones’ soul going home. I believe God wanted me to know that there’s something beyond ……. I know without a doubt that there’s something beyond this life❣💜
    I’ve had paranormal experiences all of my life and I’m 61 now. After I was adopted we moved to Ohio in 1973. I’ve lived in Kentucky now for 40 years. My husband of 38 years and I have raised our children in our home in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Our house was built in the 1870s and was first a log cabin. The McCoy sisters lived here and our house is still known as the McCoy house. One of the oldest homes here. Talk about strange things happening here……WOW……I could go on forever. One of the McCoy sisters was suffering with cancer and she hung herself in our house. Our neighbor, Walker, he’s passed on, but he was a youngin playing in our side yard when he noticed her hanging in the house. He saw through the window. He said he ran and got his father and they both cut her down. Walker our neighbor was in his 90s when he passed on 10 years ago. I felt Mary McCoy in our house before I ever heard about her. When we were renovating our house the activities were crazy until I finally just blurted out loud, “Mary. we’re trying to bring our house to it’s former glory. We love our house just like you. “Things slowed down and still weird stuff would happen, like a Pepsi bottle actually floated down into a box once in front of me. My friend was frightened out of here because he saw a shadow figure go through our house. That happened right after my stepfather passed. My step family and I have been apart since 1975 . I got married as a teenager and had my daughter at 17 and son at 19 and I was going through a divorce and my Catholic stepparents didn’t want any part of that and moved to Minnesota. As I said I could go on but for now I’ll stop. If you’d like I’ll tell you more later. Don’t mind you publishing or sharing my stories. It’s all my experiences and very true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thefolkloregirl

      Hi Anita! I am so glad that you commented on my story! This is exactly why I have begun this blog, so that people and I can have open discussions with each other about their experiences with folklore/paranormal and how they relate to it on a personal level. If you would like to tell me more, I would absolutely love that, and I can respond more. Please write to me at, and you can also find my Facebook page too! 🙂 I can’t wait to speak with you!


  2. thefolkloregirl

    Also, Anita! Were the McCoy residents _the_ McCoys, as in the Hatfields and the McCoys? If so, what depth of folklore there is, not even scratching the surface! ❤



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