Hitori Kakurenbo: A Forbidden One Man Hide & Seek

There are many necromancies and forbidden games in Japan. And the most famous one in recent years is probably Hitori Kakurenbo. I will introduce the origin of Hitori Kakurenbo, how to play it, and the incidents and phenomena that have happened to people who have actually played it. So, please read at your own risk.

What Is Hitori Kakurenbo?

The word “Hitori Kakurenbo” literally means “One Man Hide And Seek”. And as the name suggests, it is a game where one person plays hide and seek. It sounds like just a child’s game, but it is a kind of necromancy in reality.

The origin of Hitori Kakurenbo

It is said to have originated relatively recently, in 2006, with a post on the Japanese Internet chat room. A risk-averse person actually tried a ritual game and posted it live on the chat. And it became a hot topic as several people followed suit, trying it out and posting what happened.

Urban legends and scary stories have been popular in Japan for the past decade or so, and rumors about Hitori Kakurenbo have been spreading slowly but gradually. And the story has been featured on Japanese TV these days. Incidentally, in Japan, scary stories are popular, especially in the summer season, and each TV station features a psychic program.

How To Play Hitori Kakurenbo?

A worn out stuffed animal on a wooden table

Here’s how to play Hitori Kakurenbo. But, again, even though it is just for fun, I recommend that you do not do it with an easy mind.             

Things to prepare

  • Stuffed animals (with arms and legs)
  • Grain of Rice
  • Sewing needle & Red thread
  • Blade (Knife or Cutter knife)
  • A glass of saltwater
  • Nail clippers
  • TV

Preparation

  1. Name the stuffed animal (not your own name), and tear the stuffed animal to remove all the cotton inside.
  2. Fill the stuffed animal with rice grains instead of cotton, and put your own nails cut with nail clippers into the stuffed animal.
  3. After sewing the torn parts together with a sewing needle, wrap the thread around the stuffed animal. (Rice is representing human organs, and the red thread is representing blood vessels.
  4. Fill the bathtub or wash basin with water.
  5. Decide in advance where you will hide (e.g. in a closet) and prepare a glass of saltwater.

Incidentally, apart from fingernails, other things can also be used, such as hair, saliva, or blood. The level of danger increases depending on what is placed inside.

Steps

Hitori Kakurenbo is basically played at 3:00 in the morning. So, the above prep work should be done by 3:00.

  1. At 3 am, say “First, IT is XX (your name)” three times to the stuffed animal.
  2. Go to the bathroom and submerge the stuffed animal in a bathtub or washbasin filled with water.
  3. Return to your room, turn off all the lights in the house, and turn on the TV only.
  4. Close your eyes and count to ten, then go to the bathroom with a knife you prepared.
  5. Stab the stuffed animal with the knife, saying, “I found XX (the name of the stuffed animal)”.
  6. Say, “ Now, XX (stuffed animal’s name) is IT.” Leave the stuffed animal with the knife stuck in it and quickly run away to a place to hide.
  7. Always prepare saltwater in the hiding place. Be quiet while hiding and never go outside the house. The maximum time you can hide is two hours.

How to finish

To end Hitori Kakurenbo, put saltwater in your mouth and leave the hiding place. Even if you see or feel something, do not spit out the saltwater in your mouth. Then, when you find the stuffed animal (it may have moved from the bathroom), spray the saltwater in your mouth on the stuffed animal and say “I win” three times, and you are done.

Points

  • Follow the steps and rules
  • Do NOT give up Hitori Kakurenbo halfway through
  • Finish the game within 2 hours
  • Do NOT go out of the house
  • Keep the lights off (except for the TV)
  • You must hide somewhere
  • When hiding, be quiet and don’t make any noise
  • If someone is living with you, they may be harmed, so do it when you are home alone.
  • Dispose of used stuffed animals by burning them.

It is really dangerous to play without following the above precautions. So, please remember these.

What’s Gonna Happen?

window of a creepy house late at night

As you can see from the above instructions, it is a rather serious ritual. And it takes a lot of courage to do it alone in the middle of the night. There have been many necromancy-like games in Japan for a long time (the most famous being Kokkuri-san). But Hitori Kakurenbo quickly spread on the Internet due to its creepy nature, and there have been many reports of what happened when people tried it out. A number of YouTubers have uploaded recorded videos of their experiences. The following is a collection of their words.

Example Cases

  • A stuffed animal has moved to a different place than its original location.
  • Strange images or faces appeared on the TV screen.
  • While hiding, I heard the sound of rice grains falling to the ground.
  • Poltergeist or rapping sounds started
  • Ringing in my ears, chills, or severe pain in my body even though I wasn’t injured
  • I felt eyes on me from both inside and outside my closet.
  • The TV was off though I had turned it on.

I don’t know how much of it is real or not, but some of the videos uploaded on YouTube had some unusual sounds.

Discussion

Curtains in the room fluttering in the wind

What exactly is the hidden meaning of Hitori Kakurenbo?

About the stuffs

Saltwater

Since ancient times, salt has been believed to ward off evil in Japan. In fact, the custom of sprinkling salt at the entrance when returning from a funeral still remains today. This is definitely the reason why we need to put saltwater in our mouths when we finish Hitori Kakurenbo.

Cotton and Rice

Rice is considered sacred and has spiritual power in the Japanese religion of Shinto. The gods of rice and other grains also appear in “Kojiki”, the oldest surviving book of Japanese history. The cotton of the stuffed animal represents the human organs, and the Hitori Kakurenbo is probably meant to replace the cotton with sacred rice in order to imbue the stuffed animal with spiritual power.

Red thread

The red thread represents blood vessels. Furthermore, the reason for wrapping the stuffed animals with thread is to keep the spiritual power of the rice stuffed into the doll from escaping.

Bathroom and TV

It is said that watery places tend to attract spirits, which is probably why the stuffed animal needs to be placed in bathrooms. In addition, TVs are also said to be a pathway for spirits or ghosts. So by leaving the TV on, we create an entrance and exit between the bathroom and the TV, which will result in bringing a lot of spirits into the house.

Hiding place

The hiding place with a cup of saltwater, which has the effect of repelling evil, is supposed to act as a barrier, a place to protect oneself from the spirits that appear in large numbers in the house.

Not a necromancy, but a conjuring?

The act of letting a stuffed animal containing a part of your body search for oneself seems closer to witchcraft than to necromancy to invoke spirits. In other words, Hitori Kakurenbo could be described as casting a curse on oneself, which is pretty dangerous.

Conclusion

The success rate of Hitori Kakurenbo is said to be around 30%, and sometimes nothing happens at all. Although it is just a scary story or a kind of game, putting a curse on oneself should not be done casually, even if it is just for fun. It is especially dangerous for people who are susceptible to hypnosis or self-suggestion and should definitely be avoided.

There is also a free Audio Book site that collects scary stories from the Japanese Internet. So, if you are interested, you may try it once. All of them are really famous urban legends and scary stories on the Japanese Internet, which I’ve also read before.

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