The Noppera-bo as they are known in Japanese mythology are a type of creature that has no facial features, but can create the illusion of a face in order to interact with people and put them at ease before wiping their visage away and terrifying them. The creatures can supposedly even make themselves look like loved ones both living and deceased in order to get into close proximity to their victims.
The creatures are said to be driven only by the intention of scaring those around them, seemingly feeding off the fear and gaining energy from it. As the stories go the Noppera-bo are not inherently evil, though their actions may make it seem that way to those around them. Traditional legends of the creatures in Japanese folklore suggest they are able to transform only their faces, but doing so often leaves any witnesses so distraught that there is no consoling them. The most common theme in the legends is that the victim, after seeing the creature escapes and begins telling either a loved one or a stranger they meet on their way about the encounter. The person attempting to console them is sympathetic at first, but then reveals their true colors as they reach their hands up and wipe away their own faces revealing there is nothing to escape the horror of the Noppera-bo. The most terrifying aspect of the story is allegedly that the creatures can mimic anyone the victim knows, making it difficult for them to trust anyone afterward.
And the phenomenon is not merely left to the realm of imagination either. There are several cases of Noppera-bo being sighted by people as an actual paranormal entity. Documented cases have been traced from Honolulu in Hawaii dating back to 1959 when a businessman claims to have spotted one of the creatures at a drive-in movie theater. The witness was first interviewed by Bob Krauss, local newsman. As the witness watched a woman comb her hair she turned to him and revealed she had no face. The witness was terrified and subsequently admitted to a mental hospital. It’s unclear which came first – the mental imbalance or the sighting of the creature, which is so often the case with strange tales such as this.
So it is with accounts such as these that a story once thought merely a traditional folk tale becomes a serious area of paranormal inquiry. To look at it from a purely scientific perspective, what would a creature that could change its face to look blank be like? What would be its motivations? Where would it have come from?
It easily fits into the category of “too strange to really be real” but then again when we take into consideration other things that have been documented to exist, it’s hard to use “too strange” as a means of disqualification. If it were real, it would either biologically change its face or merely be in itself an image of sorts like any other apparition. So it appears the creature is illusory in nature. And yet it also seems to contradict its ghostly nature by manifesting in an extremely specific way. Why is it the face that is missing? Why does it appear as a person in every other way, showing extreme details on its form such as hair and hands but not a face?
As the phenomenon is exceedingly rare even in the paranormal field where rare events are the only thing most of us have to go on, there have been very few documented cases or collected materials on the subject.