20 May 2014


Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, A Gathering of One Hundred

20 May 2014

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales, was originally a test of courage for the Samurai trainees, but it quickly picked up fame and became a popular parlour game in the 17th century Japan. The game was played by telling stories of ghosts, possessions and other strange incidents. After each story, one of the hundred candles illuminating the room was extinguished allowing darkness to creep in. There was more to the game than just stories: it was thought that the words had power to summon the spirits. According to the tradition extinguishing the last candle opened a portal to the netherworld.

Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai became so popular in Japan, that there was quickly a shortage of new stories. A guild of ghost story collectors was born. The collectors travelled to isolated mountain villages and distant islands to write down stories that had not been heard in the city. It was an arduous and often dangerous task, but rather well-paid one. In addition to the dangers of the road, the story collectors were threatened by the spirits. Words had power and you never knew what kind of spirits the stories would summon.

Keiko Kinosita is a modern day member of the ancient guild of story collectors. Instead of treading mountain footpaths and crossing eerie lakes she travels from city to city with high speed trains and jumbo jets; the harbours towns of old have become business lounges at airports and forgotten inns turned into international hotel chains. Keiko is collecting stories for an anonymous employer, but she also seems to have an agenda of her own. She is a globetrotter on a mysterious mission from beyond time and space.

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