The Most Dangerous Games: Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai, or the Game of 100 Ghost Stories

Old bookPreviously: The Candles Game.

Unlike many of the games we’ve covered thus far, the Japanese ritual Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai (more accurately translated as “The Gathering of 100 Supernatural Tales) has deep roots. Its earliest recorded mention dates back to 1660; it’s believed initially to have been a test of courage for samurai, although it has filtered down through society over the centuries, evolving into the version that’s played today in the process. Note that the ritual opens a window into the spirit world (which may or may not be the Shadowside)… but does not specify how to close the window once it has been opened.

As always, play at your own risk.


  • Storytellers: At least one, or as many as 100.


  • 100 candles.
  • Matches or a lighter.
  • A dark room.


The Prelude:

  1. Place 100 candles in the center of the designated room.
  2. Close all curtains and turn off all lights. Now outside light should bleed into the room; absolute darkness must be achieved.
  3. Wait until nightfall.

The Main Event:

  1. Begin after sundown.
  2. Gather all storyteller together and enter the room. Form a circle around the candles.
  3. Light all 100 candles.
  4. Take turns telling stories of the strange and unusual. The tales need not be real, although they may be; they also need not have happened to the teller, although, similarly, they may have.
  5. At the conclusion of each story, the storyteller must blow out one candle.

The End:

  1. When the final candle is blown out, prepare yourselves. The window will be open. And it’s anyone’s guess what might come through it.


Several variations exists on the ritual. A selection may be found below.

1660 version:

NOTE: This variation was first recorded in the kaidan-shu Tonoigusa, written in 1660 by Ansei Ogita.

  1. Begin at the New Moon.
  2. Prepare three rooms. These rooms should be adjacent; they should also form an “L” shape when viewed from above. Rid each room of any weapons or dangerous objects. In the third room, place 100 andon lanterns made of blue paper and a table; also place a mirror on the table. Ensure all three rooms achieve complete darkness.
  3. Gather together all storytellers and enter the first room. Storytellers should be dressed in blue and unarmed.
  4. Take turns telling tales of the strange and unusual. At the conclusion of each story, the storyteller must travel, in darkness, from the first room to the third one. Upon reaching the third room, the storyteller must extinguish one andon and look at him or herself in the mirror. Only then may the storyteller return to the first room.
  5. Storytellers may continue the ritual while the previous storyteller is traveling.
  6. When the final andon is extinguished, true darkness will descend — and spirits may be summoned.

Jumonogatari version (The Game of Ten Stories):

NOTE: This variation involves only one storyteller and ten stories. It need not occur in a darkened room, and it may be completed over the course of several days.

  1. Light 10 candles.
  2. Begin telling stories of the strange and unusual.
  3. At the conclusion of each story, the storyteller must blow out one candle.
  4. When the tenth candle has been extinguished, the storyteller will be given a glimpse into the netherworld and allowed an audience with whatever may dwell therein.

Additional Notes:

In light of recent events, it is NOT recommended that this ritual be attempted. See: Exhibit A.

Exhibit A:

The Game of 100 Ghost Stories: FAQ.

[Photo via]

6 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Games: Hyakumonagatari Kaidankai, or the Game of 100 Ghost Stories

  1. Try to invite a lot of people to do it because if it’s just you or a few people, you (and the others) will have to be more creative in thinking of past experiences and making stories

  2. Fascinating; I’m curious if this did begin as a story originally published in the 1600s. The telling of scary stories is itself a common plot found in horror literature and films; it seems almost archetypal. Many ghost stories begin with someone telling a tale of a frightening experience (Crawford’s “The Upper Berth” is a great example). There’s also the famous 1946 British horror film “Dead of Night,” which basically has several characters recalling spooky incidents from their lives; it all builds up to an unnerving conclusion. These stories seem related to shaman initiation experiences, of someone undergoing rituals to summon a spirit guide from the other world. Telling stories seems to function as a method of opening a portal or inducing a receptive state.

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