I都市伝説(toshi densetsu) is initially just a story which has been told among people. As the time passes, the story becomes more scary and always involves “the ghost,” or something we can’t explain.
I do not really know how this transition occurred, but it is not hard to guess that people tend to make stories more exciting or memorable by adding scary elements. Also, there is an advantage that when it comes to “the ghost”- others cannot really argue the credibility of the story since there is not any scientist has a complete explanation of it.
There are a couple websites which have updates on all of these Toshi Densetsu, as well as books that have been published in order to explain the history and formation of Toshi Densetsu.
This is a blog website where people update and comment on all the Toshi Denstsu they have heard and “seen.”
There is no book about Toshi Densetsu that is specifically famous, and most of them try to explain the truth of Toshi Denstu, which does not work very well.
Though my college professor of Sociology is a big fan of studying the formation of Toshi Densetsu and the effectiveness of Toshi Densetsu to the society, and he is enthusiastic enough to put these questions on our final exam, so maybe he will publish a book about it someday. I will surely introduce it to you.
However, there is one TV show I’d like you take away from here.
It called 世にも奇妙な物語(Yonimo kimyou na monogatari), and it is not necessarily to say they all come from Toshi Densetsu, but both of them have a creepy character.
This is the beginning preview of Season 2006/Fall and the first one could be listed as one of the creepiest stories in the show. There are also many other interesting stories that can be found on youtube, so I highly recommend you take a look of those, though I have to apologize that I could not find any English subtitle one.
This one is a story about all the suicide people have been “recycled” by the government. It is worth to take a look at because I think it well presents the combination of Japanese ecological idea and don’t-bother-others cultural elements.