Decoding the Mystery of "Lavender Town Syndrome" and the "Lavender Tone"
In the "Red" and "Green" versions of the Pokemon video games for the Nintendo Game boy hand-held, there have been reported rumors circulating the internet of "Lavender Town Syndrome." The phenomena is described as occurring when the player is within Lavender Town, a small area with a paranormal theme including ghosts, ghost-themed Pokemon, and a tower constructed for the purpose of housing deceased Pokemon. The music in the area, which was later quickly changed for a second release, contains binaural beats which can induce psychological effects on the listener. These subtle beats comprise the so called "Lavender Town Tone."
For a description of the effects on Japanese children which played this first edition, I shall quote from the page with information on the subject: http://www.cornus.lensig.net/index538a.html (Readers should note that most, but not all, of the information on the page is factually sound.)
"History of the Pathology [$HIP]
It was not until Spring/Summer of 1996 that the cases that would eventually become linked to the Lavender Town Tone began to surface. The earliest record of the acknowledgment of the effects of the Lavender Town Tone that the author could find came from an internal report made in June 1996 by the company Game Freak Inc., which was then leaked by one of its former employees, Ms. Satou Harue. In it, an employee gives a list of names, dates, and symptoms - records of children between the ages of 7 and 12 who had suffered various medical problems as a result of playing Pocket Monsters Red and Green versions...
...April 12, 1996 (11). Obstructive sleep apnea, severe migraines, otorrhagia, tinnitus. Attacked a police officer near a government building and was killed.
May 23, 1996 (12). General irritability, insomnia, addiction to video games, nosebleeds. Developed into violent streaks against others and eventually himself.
April 27, 1996 (11). cluster headaches, irritability. Self harmed and carved the kanji symbols for "Empire" into his wrists, then died.
March 4, 1996 (7). Migraines, sluggish and slow behavior, unresponsiveness. Developed into deafness and went missing. Body discovered beside road April 20, 1996."
Hundreds of Japanese children fell victim to these effects, many of them committing suicide eventually. As you can see, these binaural beats lead to many problems, including symptoms of brain hemorrhaging and violent actions against others.
The Ghost Animation
The article also mentions a "Ghost Animation" which appears throughout the tower. It supposedly displays static, pictures of screaming faces, the "Grim Reaper," and photographs of corpses along with the standard ghost model itself. While the rest of the paragraph itself is fiction (No such "Games Commission Board" ever held the programmers on trial) there is some truth behind this "Ghost Animation." In the recalled first edition of the games in which the Lavender Town Tone was present, hidden in the game's code is an unnamed Pokemon only identified by its assigned number - 731.
What is the purpose of this Pokemon? What is the significance of the number 731? Were the binaural beats comprising the "Lavender Town Tone" inserted into the music on purpose? The answers require a look at some of the staff of Game Freak, the company which developed the game for Nintendo.
The Staff of Game Freak
Game Freak Inc., a Japanese video game developer founded in 1989 by Satoshi Tajiri, created the Pokemon series. Shin Nakamura, who was married to Satou Harue with a six year old child, Ken Nakamura, worked there as a programmer. Ms. Harue, who leaked the list of children affected by the Lavender Tone, was trained in musical skills and was in charge of sound design. In order to gather more information on this subject, I traveled to Japan to inverview Ms. Harue, who now lives in the small town of Toma, in the Kamikawa District of the Hokkaido Prefecture.
Initially unwilling to answer my questions, she finally relented and gave me the information I desired. The reason she had leaked the list of children was partially due to personal guilt. Mr. Nakamura had asked to tweak the Lavender Town theme, Ms. Harue accepted, and Mr. Nakamura added the tone, telling Ms. Harue that he decided that it was fine as it was and did not add anything. Because the tone is not audible for those over the age of twelve, Ms. Harue believed Mr. Nakamura.
In the middle of the night after the game was released, Mr. Nakamura committed suicide in the Aokigahara Forest by hanging himself on a tree, leaving a letter addressed to Ms. Harue below him. Their son, Ken, was killed in an automobile accident down the road from their house, naked,with several cracked ribs, frothing at the mouth and heavily bleeding from his nose due to a brain hemorrhage. The two Kanji symbols for "Emperor" were also carved into his chest. The story that Ms. Harue told me was that while Ken was sleeping, Mr. Nakamura put headphones on his son and played the Lavender Town and left. Eventually, their son woke up, and, due to the effects of the tone, cut the symbols into himself with a kitchen knife then attempted to attack the passengers of a nearby car. Frightened, they ran over to him then drove off. Unfortunately, her story was not accepted by police, although the bloody kitchen knife was present in his bedroom.
Ms. Harue has agreed to allow me to release a revealing passage from Mr. Nakamura's letter with the rest omitted due to personal reasons. It is as follows:
(section omitted)...tonight is the eve of a new era for Japan, a new empire of which I am responsible. I cannot, however, linger to see my creation unfold within the coming months, visions of my father's work haunt me...(brief section omitted...Our dear Ken will be the first martyr for the empire, followed by many other children as our disgraceful society collapses, uprooted by its own young. A phoenix will rise from the ashes, the second Great Imperial Japanese Nation...(rest of letter omitted)"
This passage makes it obvious that Mr. Nakamura's goal was the crate a second "Great Imperial Japanese Nation" by using the newly released Pokemon games. He hoped that the Lavender Tone, which causes violence against the victims themselves and others, would turn all of the children who purchased the game into warriors for the Empire. But what explains the pictures on the Ghost Animation, and what was his father's work?
Unit 731 was a secretive unit of the Japanese army under the Empire of Japan during World WAr II. It was dedicated to biological and chemical research, also delving into human experimentation. It is infamous for its many war crimes. It consisted of several divisions:
Division 1: Research on bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax, typhoid, and tuberculosis using live human subjects. For this purpose, a prison was constructed to contain around three- to four-hundred people.
Division 2: Research for biological weapons used in the field, in particular the production of devices to spread germs and parasites.
Division 3: Production of shells containing biological agents. Stationed in Harbin.
Division 4: Production of other miscellaneous agents.
Division 5: Training of personnel.
Divisions 6-8: Equipment, medical, and administrative units.
Under division 4 worked Hoshu Nakamura, the father of Shin Nakamura. According to Ms. Harue, "He was a very conservative man, had an Imperial Flag on his wall, and followed all traditions. He was stuck in the former half of the century."
If we delve further into records we find that Hoshu Nakamura worked in Division 4. He held the title of "Director of Experimentation Relating to Audial Engineering." From here, we can only speculate what responsibilities that tile held, but one can guess that the Lavender Tone was engineered there between the screams of vivisected patients and the smoke of burning bodies.
Now, recall figures 2 and 3. As figure 2 pictures a man in a surgical mask holding a body, it was likely taken by Mr. Nakamura himself at the facility. Figure 3 looks similar to the main entrance to the facility. We can gather that the rest of the photos are "patients" of Unit 731 and the buildings of the facility.
The effects themselves were certainly not as great as Mr. Nakamura hoped. There is no second Japanese Empire, but only a few hundred Japanese children, who died in fits of insane rage against government officials and themselves, which he is responsible for. This is mainly thanks to the quick actions of Ms. Harue and Game Freak at removing the tone and the secret code and images which Mr. Nakamura implemented into the game. Mr. Nakamura also neglected to foresee that the effects were hardly present at all without the use of headphones during the Lavender Town segment specifically. The quiet and fast recall by Nintendo is also a contributing factor.
Pokemon continues to be a popular worldwide series of video games. Sadly, the government, possibly by the request of Nintendo, has neglected to acknowledge the connection between the lost children and the Pokemon games. The information Ms. Harue leaked has been all but erased from any records, and only one copy of the list remains at her home.
I'd like to thank Ms. Harue greatly for complying with my requests, supplying nearly all of the information in this article and providing a rare copy (possibly the only one left) of a first edition Pokemon cartridge for investigation purposes.
Ms. Harue continues to live alone with her two cats in Toma, Hokkaido, working as a store clerk. She left Game Freak shortly after her husband's suicide and her child's death. Sadly, she has all but given up trying to spread awareness of the events that led to the loss of her child.
*UPDATE* Ms. Harue passed away from Leukemia on May 3rd, 2001. This page is now dedicated to her, and may she rest in piece. That's it. The website has been down for the past few years. As for the story itself, it seems plausible, although the tone would have to manipulate the children with forms of sound other than binaural beats, as those are **impossible** on the Game Boy. There are still many other ways it could have been done, and binaural beats was possibly a misassumption by the author. I hope you guys enjoyed this.
***Yes, binaural beats are possible on Gameboy,
*assuming you're using headphones.
*This routine when called will setup the sound
*channels to produce a binaural tone.
SECTION "LavenderTown", HOME
.BIN_Start: ld A, 127
ld (FF00+52), A
*First, make sure the sound hardware is enabled.
ld A, 18
ld (FF00+51), A
*Now, the tone voice and the tone/sweep voice
*are on separate ears IF you're using headphones
ld (FF00+10), A
ld A, 127
ld (FF00+11), A
ld (FF00+21), A
ld A, 248
ld (FF00+12), A
ld (FF00+22), A
*Just loading constants to turn off tonesweep
*and ensure dutycycles are the same.
ld A, 68
ld (FF00+13), A
ld A, 134
ld (FF00+14), A
*Tone 1 has been loaded with a 700hz tone.
ld A, 71
ld (FF00+23), A
ld A, 134
ld (FF00+24), A
*Tone 2 has been loaded with a 715hz tone.
*At this point the GB should be playing a
*constant binaural tone, using 2 sound channels
*in the process.
*I would like to note that setting up binaurals
*this way is kinda annoying, since you're using
*two sound channels to do the work of one.
*That's probably why in the creepypasta it's
*only mentioned as being in Lavender Town,
*as that melody is simple enough that you could
*use two sound channels for the lead without
*much of an issue.
*It's still freakin' impractical if it only
*occurs in the one town that already creeps you
*enough that you don't want to use headphones.