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Kokkuri-san: How To Play The Spirit Of The Coin – The Ghost In My Machine

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The translation of the japanese prophecy game Kokkuri-san that ’ s played today international relations and security network ’ t actually the original one. In its earliest mannequin, Kokkuri-san was actually a derivative of the western drill of table-turning that gained popularity during the altitude of the Spiritualist movement : Played with three bamboo sticks tied together into a tripod and the lid of a rice container placed on peak, the game involve respective people resting their hands on the rice container hat, asking questions of an entity, and watching how the lid tilted or whether the leg of the tripod moved to determine the answers. It came to Japan — possibly from America — sometime around the 1880s, with its japanese mention immediately referencing the motion of the device used to play it : “ Kokkuri ” is an echoic password that describes tilting or nod motions .
100 yen coins
These days, the game is more like a homemade Ouija ; players draw up a makeshift talking board on a piece of composition and use a coin as a planchette. For this reason, the modern personification of Kokkuri-san — equally well as other alike games from across the populace — may sometimes be called the Spirit of the Coin.

It ’ s not wholly clear when the interchange between bamboo sticks and table-turning to coins and talking boards happened. It ’ randomness worth note, though, that in 1903, an article in the japanese newspaper Yomiuri shimbun discussed the planchette with regards to its function in England — an article which was in fact, titled “ Seiyo no Kokkuri-san, ” or, in English, “ A Western Kokkuri. ” In his excellent article “ Strange Games and Enchanted science : The Mystery of Kokkuri, ” which was published in the May 2006 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies, Michael Dylan Foster makes particular bill of the progress of the game : First, the practice was westerly ; then it was adapted for East asian cultures ; then it was flipped about again, or inverted ( e.g. a western exercise was likened to a japanese one, which was itself Western origin ). I think, though, that the Yomiuri shimbun article might besides be meaning for placing the original method acting of Kokkuri-san in near proximity to the tool that would become all-important for its subsequently iteration .
[ Like what you read? Check out  Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now! ]
What ’ s besides kind of intrigue is how the accept explanation of precisely what the spirit summoned by the bet on is has changed with each pass ten and hundred. Over time, the news “ kokkuri ” came to be written using the characters 狐, 狗, and 狸 ( knockout, ku, and rhode island ), meaning “ fox, ” “ tengu, ” and “ tanuki ” and frankincense giving rise to the belief that Kokkuri-san is a type of fox-dog-racoon liveliness. Foxes have long had a space in japanese folklore as tricksters and shapeshifters ; tengu are fabulous dog-like creatures consider to be kami, or Shinto gods, or yokai ; and tanuki, very animals besides known as japanese raccoon dogs, are said in folklore to be both mischievous and masters of disguise .
inactive, though — when you open a door or windowpane to the unknown, there ’ s no telling what might find its way through .
As constantly, play at your own hazard .


  • At least two principals.


  • A piece of A4 size paper.
  • A red pen.
  • A black pen.
  • A coin.
  • A quiet room in which to play. The room must have at least one door or window.
  • A doorstop, prop rod, or other similar object. Optional, but highly recommended.
  • Questions — anything to which you wish to know the answer.


Preparing The Board:

  1. Begin at any time.
  2. Lay the piece of paper down on a flat surface in your quiet room, oriented to landscape. At the top of the paper, precisely in the center, draw a torii — the style of gate found at the entrances of Shinto shrines — with the red pen.
  3. With the black pen, write the words “YES” and “NO” on either side of the torii.
  4. Continuing to use the black pen, write the letters of the alphabet, arranged in a grid, beneath the line with the words “YES” and “NO” and the torii. Spread the grid evenly across the paper, leaving a small strip of blank space at the bottom.
  5. Finally, in a line at the bottom of the paper — in the blank space you left in the previous step — write the numbers zero through nine, again with the black pen. Then set aside both pens; your board is now complete.

Making Contact:

  1. Select any door or window in the room and open it. You may wish to prop the egress open with a doorstop, prop rod, or other object. NOTE: Although the use of a doorstop, prop rod, etc. is optional, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  Do NOT proceed without an open door or window. If you are unable to keep an egress open, find a different location in which to play and try again later.
  2. Gather all principals around the board. Place the coin on the torii.
  3. Have each player place one index finger on the coin.
  4. Together and in unison, speak the following words aloud: “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, please come out. If you’re here, please move this coin.”
    1. If the coin does not move: Kokkuri-san is not here. Do not proceed. Remove your fingers from the coin, and close the door or window. You may try again another time.
    2. If the coin moves to “NO”: Kokkuri-san is here, but does not wish to play — or, you have reached something… else. DO NOT PROCEED. Apologize for being a nuisance, say “Goodbye,” remove your fingers from the coin, and close the door or window. Destroy the piece of paper as soon as possible and dispose of the remains.
    3. If the coin moves to “YES”: You may proceed.
  5. Take turns asking questions. You may ask any question you like. Begin each query by addressing Kokkuri-san twice by name. Watch the coin after each question. It may spell out the response, or else indicate the answer in some other way — by moving to “YES” or “NO,” by passing over numbers, etc. If the coin does NOT move, that, too may be interpreted as a response — Kokkuri-san may not know, or may not wish to answer.

Saying Goodbye:

  1. When you are finished asking questions—or when the coin indicates that Kokkuri-san no longer wishes to play — speak the following words aloud, together and in unison: “Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, please return home.”
    • If you are successful: The coin will move to “YES,” then come to rest on the torii.
    • If you are unsuccessful: The coin will behave in any number of ways, including but not limited to remaining stationary, moving to “NO,” moving to “YES” but not coming to rest on the torii, etc. This means that Kokkuri-san is refusing to return home. In the event that this outcome occurs, DO NOT attempt to force an end to the game or leave the room before finishing it. Continue to ask Kokkuri-san to return home until the coin moves to “YES,” then the torii.
  2. Once Kokkuri-san has returned home, say “Thank you” and “Goodbye.” Then remove your fingers from the coin, close the window or door, and leave the room.
  3. Within the next 24 hours, destroy the piece of paper and dispose of the remains. Also, spend the coin. You may spend the coin on whatever you wish, but DO NOT maintain possession of it. It must change hands, and it must do so through a financial transaction.
  4. You may play again later, if you like, with a new board and a new coin — but don’t play too often. The more times you open a door or window to the unknown… the harder it gets to close it again afterwards.

Additional Notes:

ideally, this bet on should be played using a 10 ache coin and a board featuring the 46 letters of the hiragana alphabet. You may attempt to play using a coin belong to to a unlike form of currency and a circuit board featuring a different alphabet — a penny and the 26 letters of the Latin rudiment, for exercise — although be mindful that your results may be slightly irregular. According to some reports, Kokkuri-san is fluent in all languages ; however, this claim has not yet been satisfactorily verified .
once your fingers have been placed on the mint in Making touch : step 3, do NOT remove them until you have successfully closed or terminated the game .
Be leery of the answers Kokkuri-san gives you. They might not constantly be the accuracy .

Concerning The Number
Of Players:

once the minimum issue of principals has been achieved, any number of players may participate ; however, you may be limited by the size of the mint. It is by and large suggested that no more than four principals participate per game. Do not attempt to play if all participants are not able to rest their fingers comfortably on the coin at the lapp meter.

Do NOT play this game alone .
It is believed that playing Kokkuri-san is a form of mediumship — that is, that Kokkuri-san may temporarily possess the players, thereby making the coin move .
If you play alone, and Kokkuri-san possesses you, you ’ ll have no one to help you return to yourself afterwards .
Your friends and loved ones might not flush know you ’ ve been replaced .
This game might be reportedly “ safer ” than other similar games… but not one of them is truly safe .
Consider yourselves warned .
Kokkuri-san: FAQ.
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[ Photo via Olishot /Pixabay ]

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