Hantu Jepun – one of the many mysterious military spirits

Paranormal researcher Arwin John’s take on spirits is that spirits emit electromagnetic waves that could be detected with specially designed instruments.

A firm believer in science, and a brave man, Arwin who is the founder of Malaysian Paranormal Research, tells Yahoo! Malaysia of his own encounter with the spiritual kind at a Chinese cemetery in Gunung Rapat. During an investigation in the middle of the night, he saw a little girl who vanished into thin air once he realised she wasn’t human.

He now works with an affiliate in Germany, studying the phenomenon on how spirits exist and how he and the team could make contact with the afterlife.

“We find that when spirits die, some times they are still anchored to their physical memory,” he explained, which is a likely explanation of one of the more famous ghosts in Malaysia, the spirit of Japanese soldiers.

‘Hantu Jepun’ tales have been a school camp favourite.

The ghost of the Japanese soldier or Hantu Jepun refers to wandering spirits of dead Japan military personnel, who was once stationed in Malaysia, and around the Southeast Asian region during World War 2.

These spirits are often seen wandering in full uniform, bearing arms or swords, or in a more terrifying state – walking around headless or carrying its head. The spirits tend to appear in buildings, cemeteries and hostels which were once used as Japanese bases.

At times, sightings of the Hantu Jepun are described as scenes of Japanese soldiers lining up in formation or marching to attention.

This explains the sounds of marching boots in most, if not all of the Hantu Jepun stories shared by the Malaysian community as well as those who encounter the spirits all across Southeast Asia.

Some people believe that the appearance of this ghost evokes feelings of loneliness, death, cruelty, torment and fear.

Old sites and sounds

Colonial buildings are common places where the spirits of Japanese soldiers roam.

Take the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in Perak as an example. The school is known to be a former site of Japanese occupation. A marching platoon could be heard in the field and sounds of dragging chains across the corridors.

These old sites are known to be places for executions, where Japanese soldiers behead their prisoners.

Other institutions that are known to have experienced ghostly encounters of the Hantu Jepun are Victoria Institution and former Bukit Bintang Girls School, now the site of popular Pavillion shopping mall, on along Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur.

And in Singapore, a well-known university was known to have put up signs to warn its students of ghosts of Japanese soldiers, marching throughout corridors and turning lights on and off in different classrooms or halls.

Military in nature

A marine called Albert F, shared his experience at the Clark Marine Base, on how he came across what he thought was the ghost of a Japanese soldier.

He wrote that he was patrolling alone at a section of the weapons storage areas and saw a human-like figure standing by a utility pole. Albert said he knew no one else was on duty that night and called his based to confirm that.

“They said none – I was the only one in the area. I called back and announced I have an intruder in the area. I started to move on the intruder.

“When I yelled out for the intruder to stop, the person came out entirely from the side of the utility pole and started heading away from me, not really running, but he seemed to be floating away from me,” he wrote.

Albert shot a signal flare to shed light on the open field to see his intruder, but he saw nothing. The person had disappeared.

Wandering soldiers

E. Kho, 35-year-old sales manager shared her experiences with Yahoo! Malaysia, describing how she came across spirits of the military kind.

They were not Japanese soldiers, but they were the navy crew that died on the Cheonan Ship in 2009. The 1,200-tonne ship capsized after a mysterious explosion caused it to sink.

“I was in Seoul the day the government organised a memorial service for the officers and soldiers that died in the accident.

“I could feel their presence and even see some of them in full uniform, wandering around.

“It was a sad moment, because I could sense that these spirits did not even know they have died and were wandering restlessly outside Seoul City Hall,” she recalled.

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