"Hitogata" (lost Japanese commercial; existence unconfirmed; 1996-2003)
An image taken from a recreation video made by user hadukiti on YouTube.
Status: Existence Unconfirmed
"White Humanoids," "White People," or "White Humans" ("白いヒトガタ," often shortened to simply "ヒトガタ," "Hitogata") is an urban legend dating back to 2004 on the anonymous Japanese message board website 2ch. Users believe that this piece of media is either a PSA shown in schools or a commercial that aired late at night. Testimonies and eyewitness accounts vary, but the general premise stays the same: The sound of a railroad crossing sign rings in the background, as two white, featureless human figures appear on the screen. When one figure fades out, another fades in. Text is displayed on the screen, with some reports of a narrator saying that: Every two seconds, someone dies on the Earth (time varies between eyewitness accounts). Originating in 2004, numerous recreation videos have been made depicting these two white, featureless figures. Despite numerous search efforts, the commercial has not been found and still remains an urban legend.
In 2004, on the anonymous message board 2channel, a thread was made about a series of creepy commercials and advertisements that users had found memorable. In this thread, the origins of the myth would come to fruition. The original post, in Japanese, reads as such:
854 ：提供：名無しさん ：04/10/06 14:21:45 "とてつもなく怖いＣＭがあって、ずっと記憶に残っている。 黒い背景で白い人型のものが２人描いてあって、「カン、カン」っていう音が鳴り続ける。 確か、地球上では２秒に１人ひとが死んでしまうっていうやつで、２回音が鳴ったら片方が消える。 次の瞬間には元の場所に人型が復活し、今度はもう片方が消える。 それが延々と繰り返されるだけのＣＭ。"
When translated, the text reads as follows:
Post #854: Poster: Anonymous: 04/10/06 14:21:45 "There was this terribly scary commercial, and I still have it constantly left in my memory. There were two white human figures depicted against a black backdrop, and this noise going "Kan-kan" kept ringing. What's sure is the part that went "Every two seconds, a man dies on Earth", and when the noise is repeated again, the other figure disappears. In the next instant, the human figure returns back to its original place, and now the other one disappears. It was a commercial with only that repeating over and over."
Note: Thread title is (･∀･) Scary commercials: Night #9 (･∀･)
Due to the vague nature of the testimonial, it has been difficult for those searching to find "hitogata." However, this has not put a stop to numerous search efforts.
Testimonies and eyewitness accounts vary between users who claim to have seen "hitogata." Some sources state that there was a railroad crossing sign present, with a sepia-coloured background. Other sources claim that there was no railroad crossing sign, and the background was black. Sightings range from the 1990s to the 2000s, although a time frame of 1996-2003 has been narrowed down.
One eyewitness account comes from a post made on 2ch in 1999. However, an archive of the original thread does not exist, leaving its credibility dubious at best. It reads as follows:
6 ：名無しさん：1999/11/02(火) 01:32 "2人のモノクロ人間が交互にポンポンと点滅するCM。 地方のキャンペーン系CMってよく分からないの多いですね。"
When translated, it reads as:
Post #6: Anonymous: 1999/11/02 (Tues) 01:32 "There's this commercial with two monochrome people blinking on and off alternately going "Pon-pon". Among local PSA commercials, there's many I can't make sense of."
Note: Thread title is Weird commercials
Theories and Speculation
The leading and most popular theory is that this piece of media was a commercial. Due to the original testimonial stating that this piece of media was 15 seconds long, this leaves credence to the theory that this was a short commercial for an unknown product. As the original testimonial does not give any indication as to what was being advertised, this has lead to a wide range of theories. These include: An advertisement for a drugstore, soap, or jeans company, UNICEF or NGO, and of course, those who believe it was some sort of PSA. Many of these theories have been debunked. For example, those who believed that this was an advertisement for soap were able to uncover a commercial that, although it had some similarities, did not match up with eyewitness accounts. Allegedly, one user was able to get into contact with AC Japan, a non-profit that distributes public service announcements. AC Japan denied any claims that they made a PSA similar to "hitogata."
Another theory states that this was an ad made by Tokuyama, a chemical company based in Tokyo. There is a similar urban legend to that of "hitogata" about an advertisement made by Tokuyama in roughly 1994. Believed to be a commercial that aired locally in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, eyewitness accounts state that a white, featureless figure is shown against a bluish-black background, with a number of white balls appearing around them. Text appears on the screen that roughly translates to "Chemistry is now in the Unknown World," followed by text that says Tokuyama. Because of its similarities to "hitogata," such as featuring a white humanoid figure, those believe that "hitogata" could have been made by the Tokuyama company. However, as of the time of writing, this has not yet been confirmed.
Other theories suggest that this could have been a program used to teach children about the dangers of railroad and traffic safety. Traffic safety and railroad safety specials are a very popular form of teaching in Japan, with examples including Super Mario no Kōtsū Anzen (スーパー マリオの交通安全, Super Mario Traffic Safety) and Osomatsu-kun no Shōnen Kōtsū Omawarisan (おそ松くんの少年交通お巡りさん, Boy Traffic Officer Osomatsu-kun), films that still remain partially lost to this day. These films become lost due to the fact that they are only shown in schools in Japan and are rarely screened to the general public. However, with the original eyewitness account stating that the piece of media was only 15 seconds long, many skeptics believe that it’s doubtful that this could have been anything other than a commercial.
There are skeptics who believe this is merely a case of Mandela Effect or a mass delusion. Such is the case; there has been no concrete evidence as of writing that either confirms or denies the existence of "hitogata." As such, it remains a mystery.
Despite the original post going back as far as 2004, search efforts have continued for over a decade to find what could possibly be the source of this legend. Indeed, the rumour has spread so much over certain areas of the Internet that users on sites such as 5channel are prohibited to discuss the legend when threads about other pieces of unidentified commercials are discussed. However, this did not stop search efforts, and in 2019 a new thread was made on 5channel that was completely dedicated to all topics relating to "hitogata."
Continuing search efforts are being made to find "hitogata", not only by those in Japan but by those all over the world.
On the Hunt
- An archived post made by the anonymous user on 2ch that inspired the urban legend. Retrieved 05 Oct '20
- A collection of testimonials by those who have claimed to see "hitogata." Retrieved 05 Oct '20
- A number of theories collected about the "hitogata" urban legend. Retrieved 05 Oct '20
- Information documenting the Tokuyama urban legend. Retrieved 05 Oct '20
- A website detailing information about the legend, including its history and possible theories. Retrieved 05 Oct '20