While in Japan, I happened to learn about a couple of odd ghost or demon summoning games. These games are often played by middle school and high school girls. Hearing about these games made me think about how we use to play Bloody Mary growing up. They were odd games meant to scare us and test our bravery. I guess summoning creepy ghosts in the bathroom is a rite of passage for all kids around the world.
The first of these two games is a creepy game called Daruma-san or The Bath Game. It is based on a children’s game that is called Darumasan Ga Koronda(The Daruma doll fell down). That game is similar to Red Light Green Light where Daruma (the person that is It) chases other players to tag them. In this bath version of the game, things get creepy and a little gorier.
This game is just meant for one player. Just before bed, the player takes a bath in the bathroom with all the lights off. This has to be done in a bathtub. You cannot substitute a shower for this game. The player must sit in the tub facing the faucet and with their eyes shut. The player will then start washing their hair. While washing their hair, the player will start chanting “Daruma-san fell down. Daruma-san fell down.” This must be chanted the whole time the player is washing their hair and without opening their eyes. If they have done this ritual correctly they should have the mental image a Japanese woman standing in a bathtub. In the mental image, the Japanese woman will slip and fall face first on the tub’s faucet. The fall will cause her right eye to be gouged out. While playing this game, if the player feels the water moving behind them, they are not supposed to open their eyes. In response to the water moving, the player is supposed to ask “Why did you fall in the bathtub?” After asking the question, the player is supposed to exit the tub (while keeping their eyes shut). They need to take care not to fall or trip as they do this. The player is supposed to leave the bathtub with the water in and shut the door to the bathroom as they exit. Do not enter this bathroom again until after the game is over. The player at this point may open their eyes but they may not turn on any lights. It is now time for the player to go to sleep.
The next morning the player is supposed to awake at their normal time. From the time they wake up until you cut the Japanese woman free which needs to be done before midnight. The player should go about their day as normal but be aware of the spirit following them. Glancing over their right shoulder the player may see the spirit creeping up on them. Her hair will be wet and tangled and she will have only one eye. If the player sees her, they are supposed to yell “Tomare” which means stop and then run away. Don’t use tomare too much or it will lose its power.
To end the game the player must catch a glimpse of the woman while looking over their right shoulder and yell “Kitta” which means “I cut you loose” while swinging their hand in front of them in a downward motion like in a cutting motion. This should be done before midnight or else the Japanese woman will enter their dreams and follow them until they catch them. After the game is over you can drain the bathtub.
The second game is one that more resembles Bloody Mary than the previous game. Hanako-san is based on an urban legend where a girl’s spirit haunts a school’s bathroom. Most of the legends I read about said she died in a school’s bathroom during World War II. Hanako was a popular Japanese girl’s name in the 1940s when this legend started. I guess this is the Japanese version of Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter.
This game is very simple. The player just needs to go to the third stall in the girl’s bathroom that is located on the third floor. The player is supposed to knock on the door three times before asking “Are you there, Hanako?”. Hanako is supposed to answer “I am here.” At that point, the player is supposed to open the bathroom door stall. If the ritual has worked, the player should see a young girl with a bobbed hair cut wearing a red skirt.
So what spirit summoning games did you play growing up?