Saturday, March 1, 2014

Japan’s 100 Scary Ghost Stories

Japan’s ancient history, rich culture and heritage are spun with death superstitions and ghost stories.

Here are just a few of these traditional superstitions that are connected to death.

The Japanese believe people should “cleanse” themselves after attending a funeral. They do this by throwing salt over their body.

They believe one should never cut their fingernails at night for this brings bad luck or a “haunting” to this person.

They also believe certain numbers should not be referred to--the reason for this is the number 4 is the homonym for death and the number 9 is the homonym for suffering within their culture. An example of this is when they state, “Don’t buy four of those. Don’t give four of these.”

People in Japan share a variety of ghost stories, ghost myths, and legends. The following game evolved from traditional Japanese supernatural beliefs and the fact so many ghost stories are retold.

The “100 ghost story game” which is known as Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai first was played during the Edo period, 1603-1868.

Here is how it is played:

At night, the host of the party lights 100 candles. Players sit on the floor in a circle with the ring of candles in front of them.

Each player takes turns telling a Kadan, their word for a ghost story, and then they extinguish one of the candles in front of them. As the night goes on and each story is told, the room grows slowly darker. 

The result is these stories become scarier --at least to the listener who is now sitting in a dark room.

Many Japanese feel as the last candle is extinguished during this game it represents the conclusion of a spiritual evocation, which summons spirits or ghosts. Which tops off the evening with an added scare.

In one earlier form of this game samurai warriors played it to test their courage.

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