Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon

The Cow Head Story

share icon
share icon

Cow Ghost: A Cursed Half Man and Half Cow

The Cow Head scary story (or "Gozu") is a Japanese urban legend, a story that is considered the scariest horror story ever written. It is supposed to be so terrifying that it is considered fatal even to hear it.

As stated, this horrific story is called "Cow Head", the story of a cow from Japan.

In the 17th Century. Though the actual origin of the story is still mysterious. Many written narratives from this era make reference to this horrid story, while they only mention its title and define it as a tale too terrible to tell. You must have heard a story of cow today. Let's read a story about a cow ghost.

The Cow Head Man

The Cow Head Man

Creepy Legends of the Story

Rumors state that upon hearing the ghostly tale, listeners were filled with terror so great that they quivered violently for days until they were finally dead from panic. The Cow Head story was considered too dangerous and its existing copies were burned years ago.

The few surviving copies were divided into sections and distributed across the country. Today, it is believed that cow head story fragments exist. Most of the precise details of the story are still unknown to this day. The unlucky people who read the story never lived long enough to recite it. 

School Trip

School Trip

Incident Due to the Scary Cow Head Story

One current rumor speaks of an elementary school teacher who somehow came into the possession of some fragments of the original "Cow Head" story. The rumor says the teacher took his class on a school trip. He was in the tradition of amusing the students on the bus with horror stories. The students, who tend to become uncontrolled on long trips, grew extremely quiet as they listened to the teacher's horrid tales. Numerous of them seemed truly scared.

Then What Happened?

 After some time, the teacher said he would tell them the mythical forbidden tale called "Cow Head." Before he was able to complete the first sentence of the story, nevertheless, the children began to be frightened. "Stop!" they shouted. "Don't tell us!" They turned pale and started crying. But the teacher denied stopping. They say his eyes went expressionless and he flowed with the story as if some unrecognized force had taken over his senses.

Nearly after an hour, sensei (teacher) regained his senses and saw that the bus had slammed into a ditch. The students had all fainted and were frothing from their mouths. The bus driver lay drooped over the wheel, sweating and shivering. It was hazy what occurred next, besides that the teacher never narrated the "Cow Head" story again.

Terrified kids

Terrified Kids

Sources to the Story of the Cow Head

If you search online there are found only cases in which the story is told but not the real story. Though the school teacher told this story to his students since they passed out we still don't know the real deal. One cannot find the Cow Head story on the internet, especially not in English. 

The Story of the “Cow Head” (Gozu)

But we have a summary of the first part in Japanese. From what we could fathom, the story begins something like this:

There is a small forsaken village in the center of nowhere and archaeologists are digging to find why no one lives there. They mine a strange skeleton with the head of a cow and the body of a man. They do an investigation to discover that years ago, there was starvation. (The story then flashes back to the time of the starvation). 

Everybody in the town is dying of hunger.

Hungry Man

Hungry Man

They ate all the cows and horses and began to eat their pets, dogs, cats, etc.  After there's Zero left and people are perishing from the shortage of food. One day, a peculiar figure walks into the village. 

He holds the head of a cow and the body of a man. (He is the "Cow Head" or "Gozu"). The hungry villagers started attacking him eventually and ended up brutally killing him, ripping up his body, and then eating him. 

That is how the town becomes cursed. Hell comes down, and this is where the Japanese summary ended. 

The rest is gone. The remaining fragments of the cow head story do not exist anymore.

Who is Gozu?

Some people say that Gozu is supposed to be the gatekeeper of hell, the first beast you see when you enter hell. Others tell a story of a town facing starvation and feasting upon the first living creature they see. Apparently, Gozu is half man and half cow.

A piece of additional information: There is also a movie named “Gozu” released in 2003.

There are so many versions of this scary story “Cow head/ Gozu”. You can choose your own favorite one though.


Gozu: The Cow Head, Gatekeeper of The Hell

Moral of the Story

Never be greedy. Greed brings doom to humanity.


The mind of humans does not work in an appropriate manner when they are hungry. In the version of the story, it is said that Gozu ( The cow head) blessed a family with wealth, food, and prosperity because they gave him shelter. But when he came to visit them again after years the family became arrogant and ignored his hospitality. After that, all their wealth turned into dust and ashes. Hence this story gives the lesson of “Never forget to greet or help those in need. One must always have empathy, following that good fortune will always come to you”.

Want to read offline? download full PDF here
Download full PDF
Is this page helpful?
Courses for kids
English Superstar
Grade LKG - 2
Maths Classes
Grade 1 - 2
Spoken English
Grade 3 - 5

FAQs on The Cow Head Story

1. Is there any exact information about this story called "Gozu (Cow Head)"?

No, There’s no exact knowledge about this story as hearing it is fatal and as we know the listeners of it did not survive to tell us about it. Also, it was so terrifying that no one dared to repeat it once after hearing it.

2. Is it just one story or does it have any versions of it?

However, there should be one specific story about it. Over the years the story has been divided into pieces and fragments. Many writers have written their versions of it. So we do now have any exact information about that part.

3. Is Gozu: The cow head evil creature?

We can't say that for sure. Gozu, according to Japanese mythology, is a creature that guards the gates of hell. In some versions of the story, it’s been said that he loaded people with wealth who sheltered him for the night. Although, according to some versions he cursed the entire village and haunted it for eternity.