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Kayako Saeki

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Kayako Saeki

Appeared in

Ju-on: The Curse, Ju-on: The Curse 2, Ju-on: The Grudge, Ju-on: The Grudge 2, The Grudge, The Grudge 2, The Grudge 3




Curse, Haunting, Spiritual Possession, Hair/Demonic Possession

Kayako Saeki (佐伯 伽椰子 Saeki Kayako, née Kawamata) is a character appearing in the Ju-on and The Grudge franchises.

Since the Saeki deaths, the ghosts of Kayako, her son, Toshio, and her enraged husband Takeo, kill everyone who steps into the Saeki House (and anywhere the curse is transmitted).

Kayako has appeared in the majority of movies, books and games in both Ju-on and The Grudge franchises, with her depiction relativily unchanged between the Japanese and Western franchises.

Appearance and Characteristics


Kayako is typically characterized as an incredibly pale Japanese woman in her late twenties, usually wearing a white slip, with long dark hair hiding her face. Her dress and body alternates between being stained in blood and being absent of any mark on her despite her environment.

As a ghost, she can move easily between any location and material but has characterised, twisted body movements when moving physically due to the brutal nature of her death; her bones can be heard cracking when she attempts to put weight on them. She seems to prefer dragging herself across the floor with her hands; again due to the brutal nature of her demise.

As an Onryo, Kayako is capable of changing her form, teleporting and instant movement, telekinesis, and possession; wether it be only mental possession or full-body abduction and alteration. She alternates between killing her victims and leaving their bodies for people to find or simply physically dragging them into an unknown location where they are presumed dead.

With near limitless abilities, Kayako's iconic weapon seems to be her hair, which she can control and use to irritate, bind and kill her victims. A croaking sound constantly emits from her mouth when she attempts to physically speak; again due to the brutal nature of her death. The croak has become her iconic sound.



Born in 1963 (1971 (The Grudge)) to Nakagawa Kawamata, Kayako spent her childhood with her mother, who was an Itako (Japanese exorcist) who uses her daughter to "eat" the evil spirits she drives away from her patients. This marks the child for the rest of her life, making her a target for gossip and cruelty.
{C In the Ju-on series, when Kayako attends university, she meets Shunsuke Kobayashi, with whom she falls deeply in love. Years later, Kayako marries Takeo Saeki, the only person who understands and cares for her, and together, they have a son named Toshio on July 27, 1985 (28 January 1994 (The Grudge)). Kobayashi is revealed to have become Toshio's school teacher, and Kayako falls in love with him again. She writes of her feelings for him in the journal she kept.

In The Grudge timeline, Kayako instead falls in love with her Tokyo University professor, Peter Kirk, and begins passively stalking him; collecting items of his and obsessing about him in her journal.


One day, her husband, Takeo, who was already a very possessive and jealous man, finds and reads her diary, and becomes obsessed with the idea that Kayako was cheating on him with his son's teacher/her university professor - or worse; that Toshio could not be his son, but Kobayashi's. Driven by his anger and insecurities, when Kayako comes home that day, he violently attacks her. Kayako tries to run away but he pushes her to the floor and she sprains her ankle. Desperate, she starts crawling down the stairs, making it to the front door only to find Takeo slowly walking behind her. He then grabs her and snaps her neck to a 90 degree angle, crushing her throat and vocal cords which resulted in her only being able to emit a croaking sound as she screamed. Takeo then takes her to their bedroom and puts her in a trash bag.
Still alive, Takeo then grabs a utility knife and stabs her multiple times before gathering her up in the bag and puting her body in the far corner of the attic, through an attic door in the ceiling of their bedroom closet. After that, Takeo kills Toshio by drowning him in the bathtub, before also drowning his pet cat, Mar, in the same bathtub.

IwhswwdAdded by Iwhswwd

In the Ju-on series, he then runs to Kobayashi's house, and kills Manami Kobayashi, Kobayashi's pregnant wife, putting her fetus in a sack for Kobayashi to find.
As he continues to fly into a fit of rage on the street, hitting the dead female fetus around in a sack, he falls on some garbage bags and is killed by Kayako; now an Onryo.
In The Grudge movies, it is implied that Takeo kills himself by hanging himself in his son's room, however it is later revealed that Kayako, now an Onryo, had ensnared and hung him using her hair.
Some time later, Kayako's body is found in the attic; Takeo's on the nearby street (in Toshio's room in The Grudge) and Toshio's in a closet.

Due to the rage of her husband, and her own dispair, Kayako became a prominant part of a Ju-on curse inflicted upon the house. From that day on, anyone who entered the house became tainted and eventually killed by the curse.

Concept and Creation

Kayako was created by director Takashi Shimizu and represents a popular antagonist in Japanese culture, the vengeful ghost (Onryō). She first appeared in Shimizu's short movie Katasumi; where she is an unnamed, monster-girl attacking two high school students.

Actress Fuji Takako as Kayako, on the set of The Grudge
NetherithAdded by Netherith

Kayako has been most prominantly portrayed by Japanese actress Fuji Takako, who had first played Kayako in the 1998 short movie Katasumi, part of the Gakkô no kaidan G collection. She then reprised her role in the direct-to-video film Ju-on and its sequel, Ju-on 2. When director Takashi Shimizu decided to direct two additional installments for a broader theatrical release, which he called (Ju-on: The Grudge and Ju-on: The Grudge 2), Fuji played the character of Kayako twice more. When the films were subsequently remade for an American audience as The Grudge and The Grudge 2, Fuji played the role yet again.
Following the reveal that she would not play Kayako for The Grudge 3 Fuji stated in interviews that she had grown a bit tired of the role and that sometimes it was hard for her to keep herself motivated, since she had played the role 7 distinct times by then. Fuji admitted, however, that she would continue playing the role of Kayako as long as director Takashi Shimizu desired to hire her again for the role.
Fuji also stated, in other interviews, that sometimes she pretended to be Kayako Saeki in front of her friends at parties.

Version Differences

There are slight differences in event and character depictions between the original Japanese Ju-on series and the western-made The Grudge series.

  • Until the release of The Grudge 2, Kayako's past and childhood were unknown. Having not been shown in the Japanese Ju-on series.
  • Kayako's death is almost the same in both versions, with the exception of the use of the utility knife to slash her due to American violence ratings. The whole scene of her crawling down the stairs, having her neck broken and being put in the attic are shown in the director's cut of The Grudge, and parts of it are shown in the theatrical version.
  • In contrast to the movies, the novel says Kayako is beaten and slashed by Takeo, after which he ties her to a bedpost while continuing to torture her, until she eventually dies.
  • In Ju-on, Kobayashi (Kayako's crush) is claimed by Kayako during his visit to the house. As he watches her crawl down the stairs he backs up to the door which opens from behind him. She stands there, says his name, then comes down and gives him a kiss of death. When the angle changes Kayako is gone, Kobayashi is sitting there dead, and Toshio is still standing facing forward with a phone in his hand and his mouth open. In The Grudge, Peter (Kobayashi's western incarnation) escapes the house but later kills himself by throwing himself over his balcony in front of his wife.
  • Kayako's husband, Takeo Saeki, is found dead by hanging himself in Toshio's room in The Grudge. In the Japanese version, he is killed by Kayako in a street at night, after killing Kobayashi's wife and unborn child. In the novel, he is killed when Kayako's ghost stabs him through the back with a knife.
  • In the Ju-on films, Kayako is covered head to toe in blood. However, in the more recent vignettes of The Grudge, she is either pale blue-toned white or completely pure white (except for her famous stairs scene at the end of The Grudge, in which she is covered in blood).
  • In Ju-on, Kayako seems to be somewhat weaker than she is in The Grudge. As in Ju-on, she constantly crawls downstairs and rarely attacks people as viciously as she does in The Grudge series. In The Grudge, she seems to be a much stronger, much more evil, and more powerful Onryo as she can kill someone by ripping their eyes out and tearing off their jaw.
  • In the Ju-on films, Kayako is 28 years old at the time of her death. In The Grudge films, she is 30 years old.


Other Appearances and Parodies

Due to their similar appearances, origins and their introduction to world audiences being relatively close together, Kayako Saeki has always been compared, mistaken for, or in rivalry with Sadako Yamamura from the Ringu (The Ring) horror series. While Sadako seems to be the more prominant one, the pair share the spotlight as Japanese Horror Icons in western shores.

The Grudge 2


Within the opening credits of the movie as Kayako takes possession of the Columbia Pictures logo; converting the statue into her own image and changing the Columbia Pictures title to that of her movie.

30-Second Bunnies Theatre

The Grudge is parodied by Movie Extra's 30-Second Bunnies Theatre; a Webby Award-winning Flash cartoon series featuring cartoon bunnies parodying various movies in 30-seconds. The series is produced by Angry Alien Productions. {C


  • In all of the films, except for The Grudge 3, Kayako is played by actress Takako Fuji. In The Grudge 3, Kayako is played by Aiko Horiuchi, Fuji having turned down the role. The only other time Fuji has not appeared as Kayako is in the web series Tales of the Grudge, where Kayako is portrayed by Anna Moon.
  • The third installment reveals that Kayako had a younger sister named Naoko. Naoko is aware of Kayako's death and knows she became an Onryo, and has somehow obtained her journal. Kayako seems to be compassionate about her sister, as she never attacks her while she steps into the cursed Chicago penthouse.
  • In spite of her being part of a rage-driven curse, director Takashi Shimizu describes Kayako's motivations as being driven by dispair; she is an unwilling victim trapped in the thrall of the curse as much as her victims are and she constantly seeks help, which may explain why she keeps leaving her journal to be found.
  • In a The Grudge 2 DVD ("Holding a Grudge") commentary, Takao Fuji states that the ghost initially only expressed anger or rage. Shimizu-san later requested her to demonstrate other emotions.
  • The character slightly changed from Ju-on to the western franchise seemingly following The Ring's hit, as noticed by fans at the time Sam Raimi's The Grudge was released. In the american films, Kayako is most of the time hidden behind her amount of black hair (similarly to Samara Morgan/Sadako Yamamura), while she is originally fringed and way more of her face is shown.
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