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The Ring: Is The Well Real? The True Story Behind The 2002 Horror Movie

From the very first moment that horror fans heard the disembodied voice of "The Ring" whisper, "Seven days," they knew that they were watching something unique. Add to that the bedraggled ghost girl, the herd of rattled horses, the incredible cast, the creepy, complex mystery, and a killer video, and they had themselves an instant classic.

Of course, the 2002 movie wasn't entirely unique, as it was inspired by the 1998 Japanese film "Ringu," which was in turn inspired by the 1991 Japanese novel of the same name. Plus, as it turns out, the 1991 novel was in fact inspired by a centuries-old legend that hailed from medieval Japan. And before anyone asks: Yes, the legend involves a very real well that exists to this day – and from which a murderous ghost girl is said to crawl, seeking vengeance and blood.

Let's not get carried away, though. As many good fables do, the legend starts with a mischievous samurai who has a problematic crush on his servant.

The maid also shares some similarities with Samara

According to one version of the popular story, a samurai named Tessan (or Aoyama, in other versions) used to live in Himeji Castle, where he pined after his servant Okiku. Unfortunately for both parties, Okiku did not feel the same way. However, this did not deter Tessan, who soon conceived a plan to win Okiku's love using the age-old trick of extortion. Specifically, Tessan aimed to steal a golden plate from the castle and then blame Okiku; however, he would return it if Okiku responded to his overtures.

Okiku, for her part, was having none of this, and preferred to be fatally thrown down the castle's well rather than spend any time with Tessan. And just in case Tessan couldn't take the hint, Okiku also continued to haunt Tessan from the afterlife and make his life a waking nightmare. As Tessan and other visitors later recounted, Okiku would often crawl out of the castle's well and creep out castle-dwellers with her pale face and long, wet hair. Sound familiar?

Sure enough, Okiku's well rests outside of Himeji Castle to this day. And while Okiku can still allegedly be heard at the bottom, counting her gold plates, she can no longer escape: The well has been sealed shut.