Lavender Town Tone

Author: Unknown
Year: Unknown

I found and saved an article from a long time ago - 2002, to be exact. It was hosted on a Geocities site and I included some pictures I saved, which will be explained later. The site it links to seems to be broken, and this article is similar to other ones about the Lavender town music that floats around the *chans, but it goes a little more in-depth and is very fascinating and creepy, untrue or not.

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 handheld, there have been rumors circulating the internet of "Lavender Town Syndrome." The phenomenon is described as occurring when the player is within Lavender Town, a small area with a paranormal theme that includes ghosts, ghost-themed Pokemon, and a tower constructed for the purpose of housing deceased Pokemon. The music in the area, which was later changed for the 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: (Readers should note that most, but not all, of the information on that page is factually sound)

History of the Pathology

It was not until the late spring/early summer of 1996 that cases that would eventually become linked to the Lavender Town Tone began to surface. The earliest record of acknowledgement of the effects 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, the employees give a list of names, dates, and symptoms - records of children between the ages of 7 and 12 that had suffered various medical problems as a result of playing Pocket Monsters Red and Green...

Hundreds of Japanese children fell victim to these effects, many of them eventually committing suicide. 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. The Pokemon can only be found in two places: one is depicted in Figure one (Route 7). The thirty first tile of grass, boxed in red in the pixture, has a 100% chance of entering a battle with Pokemon 731. It is unknown whether this is due to the game's code itself or if it was purposely put there by programmers. Another way to find it is to use the "MissingNO." glitch. The glitch involves having an Old Man show you how to catch a Pokemon. Due to "Old Man" taking the place of your character's name in the game's memory, your character's name is moved to the memory which determines what wild Pokemon are shown when encountered. On Cinnabar Island, there is a narrow strip of land in which wild Pokemon can be caught, but it has no specific Pokemon assigned to it. Therefore, a Pokemon which corresponds to the hex value of your name will appear. If your chracter is named "gca" (in lower case letters), you will encounter Pokemon 731.

The Pokemon itself is strange in nature. It does indeed use the Ghost sprite, along with some flashing static. Around twenty frames in, it becomes a flashing series of low quality pictures. Two of the clearest ones have been included (figures 2, 3, and 4). Figure 2 appears to be a man standing over a table upon which something hard to identify - a corpse, perhaps - rests. He has his hands on this unknown object and also has what appears to be a surgical mask over his mouth. This strengthens the theory that it is a body in the frame. Figure 3 appears to be a low resolution image of a building, the significance of which will be explained later. Figure 4 is possibly one of the strangest images: a picture of the Imperial Japanese flag with two kanji symbols that mean "emperor" in the bottom right corner. Other frames of the animation that can be made out include more images of doctors, corpses, and buildings. The theme from Lavender Town plays the whole time during the battle, at three times the speed. If one attempts to catch the Pokemon, the game will freeze. After restarting, the title screen of the game will have been modified, displaying only static and the Lavender Town music accelerated to the blistering pace of ten times.

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 development studio 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, 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 interview Ms. Harue, who now lives in the small town of Toma, in the Kamikawa District of 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 it was fine as it was and did not add anything. Because the tone is not normally 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 (commonly known as the Suicide 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 carved into his chest. The story Ms. Harue told me was that while Ken was sleeping, Mr. Nakamura put headphones on his son and played the Lavender Town theme, then left. Eventually, their son woke up. Due to the effects of the song's tones, he cut the symbols into himself with a kitchen knife and then attempted to attack the passengers of a nearby car. Frightened, they ran over him and drove off. Unfortunately, her story was not accepted by police, though the bloody 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:

Dear Satou,
[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 [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 to create a second "Great Imperial Japanese Nation" by using the newly released Pokemon games. He hoped that the Lavender Town Tone, which causes violence against the victims themselves as well as others, would turn all of the children who purchased the game into warriors for this new empire. But what explains the picture of the Ghost Animation? What was his father's work?

Unit 731

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:

In this unit 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 title held, but one can guess that the Lavender Town 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 (or his father) at the facility. Figure 3 looks similar to the main entrance to the facility. We can gather that the rest of the photos are likely "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, only a few hundred Japanese children who died in fits of 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 forsee 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 but any records. Only one copy of the list remains, and it is locked in a safe 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 true 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 husband and child.

*UPDATE* Ms. Harue passed away from leukemia on May 3, 2001. This page is now dedicated to her and may she rest in peace. That's it. The website has been down for the past few years. As for the story itself, it seems plasuble, 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 original story's author. I hope you guys enjoyed this.

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