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“Do you want some coffee?
There were several canned coffees on the table, but they all looked the same from the same brand. That was a bit strange…

Today’s story is from Miki Daiun, who experienced this combination of true crime and Hitokowa (human-based horror).

The Monk Who Survived (Japan Makes Me Scared Podcast)

Scary & Horror Story of the Kaidan (transcription)


This story is originally from Miki Daiun. He is a Buddhist monk from Kyoto, also known as “Kaidan Osho (怪談和尚)”, which means Kaidan Monk. 

This is a story from when he was younger and in training to be a monk. So from now on like usual, I will use “I” as Miki Daiun himself for convenience.

Africa Kennel

I was practising at a certain temple in Saitama Prefecture in the Kanto region. I needed to train there for four years.

What kind of training did I do? During those four years, I learnt how to read sutras, how to make a mantra and many other things. I had to wake up at 4.30 am every morning. First of all, I had to cover myself with cold water and clean up, and if there were older trainees, I had to take care of them. And when it was time to have a bath, I had to wash the backs of my seniors.

To be honest, it was very severe training. So, being in this situation made me sometimes get mentally ill. Even though it was ascetic training, it was tough.

So when I felt really down, I used to go to a pet shop called Africa Kennel (アフリカケンネル) near the dormitory. I love dogs, and there was a big dog called an African malamute. I was allowed to go into their gauges and stroke their heads. Well, that was a bit of a break from my training.

One day, I was also taking a break from my training and touching a dog at the Africa Kennel. At the time, an instant camera was very popular, and I was taking photos of the dogs with it as well.

Then suddenly, I heard a voice yelling at me like, “Hey! Don’t take pictures without permission”.

I looked up and saw a middle-aged man standing super angry next to the shop. When I was too embarrassed to say anything, he said something like, “How much do you pay for taking one photo then.”

I was completely deflated and immediately said, “I’m so so sorry, I’ll hand in this camera to you right now. Please forgive me”.

But unexpectedly, that was a time when the man’s attitude changed. He asked me with a little excitement like, “Oh, you speak Kyoto dialect?”

You know Saitama, where I was doing my training, is close to Tokyo, so most people don’t have any accent when they speak Japanese. But I was originally born in Kyoto where people usually speak in the Kyoto dialect.

So I replied, trying to sound polite, like “Yes sir. I’m originally from Kyoto”

“So, you like dogs?” Suddenly, I thought the man’s way of speaking had changed, and he, too, spoke in the Kyoto dialect.

Thinking how nostalgic it was, I asked him, “Um, are you from the Kyoto region as well?” He replied, “Oh, yes, yes. Oh, so you’re from Kyoto, too?”

The initial bad atmosphere was completely gone. I ended up getting invited inside the house and we were getting to talk a little bit more. The man turned out to be the owner of Africa Kennel. It was good to hear the Kyoto dialect for the first time in a while.

Canned Coffee

He introduced him as Gen. We can call him Mr.Gen here.

“I’m training to be a monk nearby, so sometimes I come here to relax a little”

I explained my situation to Mr.Gen, and then he said, “Oh, I see, training must be tough, isn’t it? You know you can come here anytime.”

It was when we were talking in such a good mood, he then started to put some canned coffees on a table.

He asked, “Do you want some coffee? You can have one if you like.”

I said, “Thank you, sir.” But at the same time, I thought it was a bit strange.

There were several canned coffees on the table, but they all looked the same from the same brand. I wondered if there was a difference between hot and cold, so I touched them all. But there was no difference in temperature either.

That made me more confused, but I felt it would be rude not to accept his kindness, so I said, “Well, I’ll take one then.”

After finishing the coffee, I thanked him and was about to leave.

Then he said, “If you want, you can come here for 15 minutes to talk to me sometimes, like every week. Just once a week should be enough. And while you’re at it, why don’t you take the dog for a walk? Think of it as a part-time job, and I’ll give you 150,000 yen a month.”

When I heard that, I was like, “What?”

Because in those days in Japan, if you worked part-time for an hour, you might get like 8-9 dollars or less. But once a week, you would come to the shop to talk to him and walk the dog for 15 minutes. Just for that, I get 150,000 yen a month, which is about a thousand dollars. That was too good to be true.

So I asked him again like, “Are you serious sir?” But he insisted, “Yeah it’s fine, it’s fine. That’s how much I like you.”

I was almost saying yes. However, I was worried that I couldn’t decide on my own as I was still in training. So in the end, I didn’t give an answer on the spot, but went back to the dormitory and asked the supervisor, who was like a monk teacher, if he would give me permission to take the job.

Canned Coffee again

Guess what happened? My teacher was super angry about it. Temple training is supposed to be to renounce greed. What is the point of trying to make money out of greed like this?

So, I ended up writing an essay of reflection, which I read out loud later at night in front of my fellow trainees. The content was something like: “I was offered a part-time job at Africa Kennel, and I was driven by greed and tried to earn money. I feel greatly sorry about what I did.”

So, the next day, I went to Africa Kennel again and apologised to Mr.Gen. There I said, “I’m sorry, sir. I asked my teacher about it and he told me that I am still in training and can’t work part-time, so I have to decline your offer”.

He was actually cool about it and did not seem angry at all. He was even sympathetic, saying, “Yes, no problem. You are still a monk, so it can’t be helped”.

Then, as if he didn’t care about that, he started putting some canned coffees on the table again and said, “Hey, have a canned coffee today too.”

I had no reason to refuse so, “Oh thank you again, I’ll have one then.”

After that, we talked about various things in the Kyoto dialect again, and finally I said, “Thanks for the talk! I’ll be back soon hopefully.” And went back to my dormitory.

Do you seriously believe in the existence of God?

But Since then, I hadn’t gone back to Africa Kennel for a while. You know I even wrote the essay, which was obviously so embarrassing, but also helped me gain a sense of self-control. So I tried to kind of avoid being carried away by greed.

In the meantime, the end of my training period in Saitama was approaching. When it was finally decided that this day was the last day, I wanted to say goodbye to Mr.Gen. Not going back there for months doesn’t mean I didn’t like him at all. He treated me well, and what is more, I really enjoyed talking with him in the Kyoto dialect.

When I went to Africa Kennel that day, Mr.Gen saw me and asked, “Hey you, long time no see. Are you finished with your training?”

I guess he saw my face and had assumed what I was getting at. I said, “Yes, that’s right. My training will be over soon, and when it’s over I’m moving to Tokyo so I came to say goodbye today.”

“Well then, let’s have a little more Kyoto talking with me for the last time.” Saying that, Mr.Gen invited me into the house.

As usual, he lined up canned coffees and I chose one to drink from among them. When we had finished talking for a while, Mr.Gen suddenly asked me a question with a serious look on his face.

“Hey, do you seriously believe in the existence of God?”

You know, as a guy who trained at a temple, and in fact, I also have the ability to see supernatural stuff, so I confidently said, “Yes, I believe in God for sure”.

To this, “Oh, I see. Well, that must be it, isn’t it?” Mr.Gen replied with like half smiling on his face.

Honestly, I felt a bit uncomfortable with that response, but being a monk, I saw so many people who can’t believe in God, so at that time I simply thought, “Okay, he is one of those guys”.

Then Mr.Gen offered me a second can of coffee saying, “Well, we can talk about something else. Have another coffee then”.

On the two previous visits, he had never offered me a second can of coffee after the first one. I thought about taking it, but on that day I got some things to do and had to go back to the dormitory right afterwards.

So I said, “Thank you for your kindness, but I can’t take it now. I have to go back to the dormitory.”

Mr.Gen tried it again like, “Man, don’t hesitate, just take one more.”

But I kept saying, “I really appreciate that, but I’m fine.”

After repeating this several times, Mr.Gen seemed to have given up. Finally, we parted with a light promise: “Let’s meet again in our hometown, Kyoto, next time”.

What the question really meant…

A few years later, I had almost forgotten about those training days. One day, when I turned on the TV, I thought I saw a familiar face, and it was Mr.Gen from Africa Kennel. The news was that he had been caught as the culprit in a case of serial murders.

What kind of case was this serial murder case?

This man ran a pet shop, Africa Kennel, but it was going wrong little by little. He was in a fix, so he swindled his customers out of their money and then killed them with a poison that was used to kill dogs. He cut to split their bodies and dumped them in the river.

Anyway, this is not the main part of the story this time, so I’ll leave it here.

Let’s get back to the main story. So, because he was the culprit in such a big case that disturbed the whole of Japan, I was contacted by some of my old friends from my training at the time. Some of them remembered that I had tried to do a part-time job in Africa Kennel, and had written a reflection essay and presented it in front of everyone. And we were talking about what this man would have done to me if I had taken that job. 

Well, it was scary in a way, but I didn’t feel too bothered by it. That was because first, I didn’t work part-time in the end and second, the culprit had already been caught.

Another few years passed, and then someone contacted me. He told me that he was kind of a journalist and that he had corresponded with Mr.Gen.

He had already been sentenced to death because of the serial murders. So, he was on a waitlist to die before the penalty was executed. But he had also developed cancer, which was a more serious condition, and he had only a few months to live.

One day, Mr.Gen suddenly told the journalist, “You know what, I’ve killed a lot of people in my life, then it may sound strange for you to hear this from me, but… I believe that God really exists.”

When the journalist heard that, he thought, “Ah, as he is nearly dying, he might also be changing to a desire for God.”

So he asked Mr.Gen if this was such a change in his feelings. However, Mr.Gen said no. He said that is not the case.

Then he continued to talk about why: 

“When I used to live in Saitama, there was a monk who came to my Africa Kennel. I showed him several cans of poisoned coffee and one can of the non-poisoned.”

“I did it three times with him, and all three times, he chose the non-poisoned coffee. And even the third time, after he chose the non-poisoned one, I offered him another can, which he refused. That can’t be by chance, innit? So I think he must have been protected by God.”

After this confession, the journalist wanted to find out if it was true. So, when he was visiting temples in the area of Saitama where Africa Kennel was located at the time, he found that essay of reflection I had written. He then contacted me through a friend of his who had been in contact with me.

The journalist said to me, “You remember how the guy killed the victim in the murder case? He poisoned to kill them and cut up the bodies and throw them away… Mr.Miki, I think you were almost killed but survived.”

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