Siren (or Forbidden Siren) is a pretty hard-core survival horror franchise. Directed by Keiichiro Toyama and developed by SCE Japan Studio, many know this as a spiritual sister series or successor to Silent Hill. The game was known for its difficulty and the need to refrain from fighting enemies. You’d be far better served by hiding or relying on steal to survive the game. Your enemies, the Shibito (or “corpse people”), can never be killed. They aren’t zombies, though they might appear that way to some. These creatures are smart and you’ll be punished if you don’t use your head. Fans of the series know that the setting of the Siren games, Hanuda and Yamijima Island are terrifying places. What you may not know is that they are also based on real places.
Siren was inspired by a real-life incident. There was a small village in Japan which was affected by a landslide and possibly an earthquake in 1974. Thirty-three people were supposedly killed, but no bodies were ever found upon investigation of the remains. That being said, a few people did take pictures of what was left of the ghost town and some still visit today. The site of this village has since been blocked off and there isn’t much information available in government archives. But it exists, and has been the source of local urban legends since.
According to those local legends, ONI fell in the village in ancient times and committed a crime. ONI, in this case, is a term for the Japanese devil. The game expands on this mythos, by providing a background as to how three dozen locals could simply vanish overnight. According to the game’s background, in 684 CE, a small fishing village named Hanyuda is in a state of decay. At the time, it is suffering from a severe famine due to a poor fishing season. One day, a huge creature crashes from the heavens and into the grounds of the town. Desperate for food, the villagers gather around the horrifying monster and begin to eat its flesh. Before it dies, it lets out a devastating siren call. The same call would be heard again, and the village would experience a similar earthquake in 1976. This leads to the events of the first game in the series.
Yamijima Island is another story. Unlike Hanuda and Hanyuda, there isn’t actually a place in Japan called Yamijima or a variant of the word. Instead, Yamijima Island was based on another modern ghost town: Hashima Island. In the game, the island is off the coast of mainland Japan. In 1976, an underwater cable was cut and all power to the island was lost. During the subsequent blackout, the entire population of the island disappeared without trace or explanation.
Hashima, also off the mainland, was a bustling coal mining facility until 1974. With a population of 5259 people in 1959, Hashima Island was the most densely populated place per square metre in the world. Then, everyone left. Japan moved on to other energy sources and the island has maintained a population of zero for over forty years. It was the site of many large buildings and staircases that today lie in ruins. The whole place has since attracted tourists due to its eerie, decaying scenery.