Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai

Paranormal Games: Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai

Waylon JordanParanormalLeave a Comment

It’s Monday, and you know what that means! It’s time for another Paranormal Game at iHorror. This week’s game is called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, and unlike some of our previous games, it has quite a history!

While people now often call the game The 100 Candles or some variation, it is more accurately translated as A Gathering of 100 Weird Tales, and one of its earliest recorded mentions is found in a kaidan-shu (a collection of strange tales) titled Tonoigusa by Ogita Ansei in 1660.

The idea behind the game is relatively simple. When it begins, there are 100 candles lit in a room. As each story is told, one candle is extinguished so that the room slowly descends into darkness. As the final candle’s flame is snuffed out, the combined spiritual energy raised during the game is released fully into the room.

We don’t know for certain when the game was first conceived, but it seems to have originated as a test of bravery for young samurai. After a time, it trickled out into the lower classes and soon everyone was playing the game in small gatherings telling stories to frighten their friends and family and testing their own bravery in the face of the unknown.

What is most fascinating about this–to me anyway, and I’ll admit I’m a pretty big nerd–is that the demand for creepy tales or kaidan, grew out of the popularity of the Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai game, itself. After all, people could not continue telling the same stories over and over or the rush of fear would soon dissipate.

Soon more books were printed, each featuring 100 tales specifically for the playing of the game.

So you see, in some ways, Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai opened the door for scholars and writers to search out and assemble stories from Japanese and Chinese folklore in ways that they had simply never considered before, and many of those stories still influence Asian culture, filmmaking, and storytelling to this day.

Below, you’ll find the rules and a little more history for playing Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, but I would add one final note before proceeding.

The kaidan used from the beginning in playing this particular game were all believed to be true. You weren’t supposed to share false stories or fake stories, so if you decide to play, remember that true creepy stories are preferred. Personally, I think this points toward the tenacity of those who play. Anyone can make something up, but can you face something true and terrifying?

Supplies and Rules for Playing Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Supplies and Setup:

As far as setups go, this is one of the easiest we’ve featured, though set up may be a bit time-consuming. You will need 100 candles, something to light them–traditionally matches, but hey, if you’ve got a BIC then flick it–and finally a mirror.

In the beginning, so far as we could tell, the game was played in three rooms.

The first room was for telling the stories. The second room, which was not illuminated in any way, was used as a passageway and the third room was where the candles were placed and lit. You would also place a small mirror on a table in the room with the candles.

As this may not be feasible for everyone, you can play the game all in one room, but in explaining the game play, I will work on the assumption that you’re playing in three.

Playing the Game

Image by Jarkko Mänty from Pixabay

The game must be played at night when the sun has already set.

Gather as many of your friends together who would like to play, but understand that if they are present, they must participate at least in the beginning. No one should just observe.

Whoever wants to go first will begin by telling their first story. Upon its completion, they must walk through the darkness of the second room and enter the third room where the candles are burning. They can snuff out any candle they choose, but then they must turn and look into the mirror. There is no specific time limit on this but give it a couple of seconds, anyway, rather than just a quick glance.

When they have completed this, they can return to the room with their friends. Participants can wait for their friend to return or they can proceed with the next story while they complete their task.

This continues until all of the candles have been snuffed out and your house has become ground zero for concentrated spiritual energy.

If someone becomes too frightened and does not wish to proceed, they can leave the game, but they must stay until either everyone else chickens out or the game itself is completed.

What is really fascinating to me is that they do not say what to do after you’ve unleashed all this spiritual energy into your home in any of the references I could find. Perhaps they felt it would dissipate? Or possibly, they would cleanse the home after the ritual? Or maybe, they didn’t expect anyone to complete it and so it was never a problem.

Have you ever played Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai? Let us know in the comments!

Want to check out more Paranormal Games? Try The Three Kings Ritual.

Waylon Jordan is a lifelong fan of genre fiction and film especially those with a supernatural element. He firmly believes that horror reflects collective fears of society and can be used as a tool for social change.