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Kokkuri-San is Japan’s answer to our Ouija board. I had heard about it in passing on the internet as just another urban legend. And since I knew little about it, I put it from my mind until it just came back. I was in Japan for a month long trip when I suddenly thought of the game. I was with my friend, Mari, who I met in an online chat room and asked her about the game.
“I think it’s just an urban legend, but some use it to know little facts about their future. Don’t know anyone personally who’s played it, but from things I’ve read online, sometimes the answers are a bit scarier than initially thought,” she said, picking out a book to read since were were having this conversation at a local cafe.
I sipped on some herbal tea as I pondered what little I knew about the game. I, admittedly, did look up more on it, such as how to play the game, what I need, how to summon Kokkuri-san, and any rules I may need to abide by. In the research, I saw that Kokkuri-san is basically three animals in one; a fox (who can be a teacher or trickster), a dog (who will be loyal and protective) and a raccoon (who can cause mischief yet bring good luck).
Being the curious skeptic I was, I suggested to Mari that we play the game. She looked at me like I was crazy, even re-explaining that it is not something to take lightly, and that I may not like the answers I get. I still insisted on playing it and after some convincing, she gave in and agreed to play it.
That night, Mari came to the apartment I was staying in for my trip and we set everything up. I grabbed a white sheet of printer paper as well as two pens, one red and one black. Mari drew the torii gate in the top center the of the paper in red pen, and wrote "yes" and "no" on either side in black pen. After, in black pen, she wrote the Japanese alphabet A to Z, in three rows under that and then numbers 0 to 9 under the alphabet. Once that was done, she pulled out a 10 yen coin and placed it on the torii.
“Are you sure you really want to do this? There's no real going back if you do,” Mari told me, looking at me with a slightly scared look, “While things may seem fine, Kokkuri-San is a trickster spirit. It can, and possibly will, lie to us.”
“I know, Mari. How about this, we both ask three questions each and then say goodbye. If either of us gets an unfavorable answer before the three questions are up, we immediately say goodbye. Then we dispose of the items as instructed, and never speak of this again. Agreed?” I give her a comforting look, as I open a nearby window.
“Okay, I can agree to that. Let’s keep the questions only about stuff pertaining to us. And we’ll play rock-paper-scissor to decide who goes first.”
Mari sat and placed a finger on the coin, I joined her a few seconds after opening the window. With everything set, we began the game.
To start, I called: “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, if you're here, please move this coin.” And even though there was no breeze outside, we both suddenly felt a breeze and felt the presence of someone else in the room. The coin moved to “Yes” and I wanted to think it was Mari but the look on her face said she thought I moved the coin. We silently played rock-paper-scissor to decide who would be first. I won.
“Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, will I get married?” I ask. And after a few seconds, the coin moved to “yes.” I honestly had never thought of marriage before until my mother started asking me when I’d finally settle down with a husband. So getting a yes to the question made me happy, but I wasn't getting my hopes up. It was Mari’s turn.
She asked: “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, when will I get be promoted at work?” The coin moved around the paper and, according to Mari, spelled out “one year.” This made her smile ear to ear. And so the game continued. We both asked our remaining two questions and received positive answers. We decided to end the game.
I called: “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, please return home.” The coin remained stationary. Mari looked at me uneasily before mouthing to me to ask another question. Confused, I still did it. “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, will I remain in good health?” This time the coin moved to “no.” Mari and I looked at each other, both feeling a bit of a chill. This time Mari tried ending the game, this time the coin moved to “yes” but didn’t move to the torii. This freaked Mari out and I held her unoccupied hand to try calming her. For the next several minutes, we asked more questions (getting some good and some very bad answers), and tried to unsuccessfully end the game. Since we were going on when the game for so long, we asked questions that gave us spine chilling cryptic answers. It wasn't 'til the maybe the tenth try that the coin finally went to “yes” then moved to rest on the torii and we finally felt the presence leave.
Mari stayed seated as I closed my window then went around my apartment, as I went to the kitchen and grabbed a small book of matches, used an eye dropper to collect at least two drops of gasoline from a container and a large ashtray. I immediately ripped up the paper, dropped it in the ashtray, dropped in the gasoline and set it ablaze.
Once the fire was out and the paper nothing but ash, Mari I head for the door, put on our shoes, and walked out. We walked in silence for a while on the way to a convenience store when we spent the coin on a snack before going to the park. It was there we sat in stunned silence. I pulled out my phone and looked up more on the game, coming across an article that described what happened. It was a good idea we didn’t try to force Kokkuri-San to leave or just run out of the room screaming. Who knows what could have happened. It’s not like we didn’t want to. Some of the answers we got were cryptic and scared us badly. But the consequences of not properly ending the game could have been worse.
“Mari... I’m going to extend my trip a bit longer. But for now, let's do what we agreed and never speak about this again.” I held her hand for comfort and support and she nodded quietly.
In the following days, strange things happened. I almost drowned in my bath because it felt like someone—or something—was holding me down. Mari almost got assaulted while out walking her dog, both of us felt like we were pushed into oncoming traffic, and other stuff. It had to be from the game, as this was Kokkuri-san having some twisted fun with us. But when I looked up some more information on them, it does say if we start the game and received the answer “no”, then it means Kokkuri-san does not want to play... or we called something else that we didn't intend to. Now Mari and I wonder did we really talk to Kokkuri-san... or whatever may be trying to possibly end our lives now. All I know is I should have listened to Mari and never went through the game. And I will never be calling on Kokkuri-san again.