Like the Midnight Game, one-man hide and seek (also called one-man tag) may appear to be a bit of innocent fun, but its roots could be much darker.
The true purpose of one-man hide and seek is to summon a spirit and invite it into a vessel in order to “interact” with it through the game.
Note: Similar to the midnight game and the elevator game you’ll see variations of these games played out on social media (with various levels of falseness added for views) and some follow the origin more closely than others.
The Origin of One-man Hide and Seek
The first online appearance of the rules of the game was in 2006 on a Japanese message board. A poster going by the name Hitori Kakurenbo shared the instructions and his experience playing.
One year later, after the Japanese instructions had been shared far and wide, someone eventually translated the original post. When the English-language version went up, the game spread like wildfire.
Posts and videos from all around the world documenting the results of the game went up, and there was no stopping its spread from that point on.
Playing One-man Hide and Seek
As the name of the game suggests, there should only be one player involved. You can have observers or associates to document the ritual, but they should not interact with you, the vessel or any spirit present unless absolutely vital.
Though you should ideally be alone, if you are sensitive to spiritual phenomena or have any level of psychic ability, you may feel unwell during the game. This may include nausea, migraine, or poorer coordination than usual.
If that’s you, it’s probably a good idea to have someone nearby in order to assist you should you be unable to end the game on your own.
You need to finish “playing” within two hours. Otherwise, the spirit may become too bonded to the doll for you to be able to remove it yourself.
Ending the game doesn’t just signal the end of the play, it completes the ritual and sends the spirit back to where it came from. Do not leave your home, or let any other people in your home leave, until you’ve completed the ritual.
If you insist on playing alone, keep your phone to hand and have a designated friend keep theirs close to them until you send word that you’ve ended the game.
NB: Your phone’s reception may become unreliable once you start playing, and you may be unable to get a call out.
In this scenario, a text message can be a more reliable method of reaching your friend, as it only needs a brief moment of adequate signal to go out.
- A doll with articulated leg and arm joints. They need to have a fabric torso, with easily removed stuffing.
- Nail clippers. You can also collect your nail clippings prior to the game.
- 1-2 cups of uncooked rice. This is used to symbolize organs.
- A sewing needle.
- Red thread. The color is important, as it symbolizes veins and sinew.
- A sharp-edged instrument, like scissors or a knife. Remember that sharper blades are safer to use, so take the time to do some maintenance on your implement before using it in any ritual.
- A bathtub.
- A cup of saltwater. You can’t get it directly from a body of water, sea salt mixed with tap water is fine as well. You can use other types, like iodized salt, but to maintain the purity of the ritual, saltwater is ideal.
- A television. You don’t need to actually have it set to a functioning channel, it just needs to be plugged in and have the ability to project an image on the screen.
- Ofuda. This is a talisman, typically a card or piece of paper imbued with the power of spirits or deities.
- Agarwood incense.
Preparation for the Game
- Using your sharp implement, cut open the back of the doll and remove the stuffing.
- Fill the cavity with dry, uncooked rice.
- Cut off several fingernail clippings, or use take your pre-cut fingernail clippings and insert them in the doll.
- Using your needle and a long piece of red thread, stitch the doll closed. Don’t cut the thread.
- Using the remaining length of thread, bind the doll.
- Name your doll. It’s best if you don’t give it your name, or the name of any close friend or family member.
- Fill your bathtub with water.
- Select your hiding place and set up your television in the same room, making sure it has a power source that can’t be easily disconnected.
- Mix a glass of saltwater and leave it in the same room as your hiding place.
- Purify the room you’ll be hiding in with its in with the incense and ofuda.
How to Play the Game
- At exactly 3 AM, go to the bathroom and stand in front of the tub. State loudly and clearly“ [Your own name] is the first it, [Your own name] is the first it, [Your own name] is the first it”.
- Submerge the doll in the bathtub and leave it there.
- Turn on the television in your hiding room.
- Turn out all the lights in your home.
- Once the light from the television is the only remaining source of illumination, go to your hiding spot, close your eyes, and count to ten out loud.
- When you have finished counting, retrieve the knife or scissors you used to cut the doll open and go back to the bathroom.
- Remove the doll from the bathtub and state loudly, “I have found you [Doll Name]”.
- Using your knife or scissors, cut the thread binding the doll. Be very careful not to cut any of the stitches, or the rice will fall out and you’ll have to start over again.
- Clearly speak the words “You are the next it [Doll Name]”. Place the doll back into the bathtub.
- Get back to your hiding place as fast as you’re able to.
- Do not make a sound.
- At this point, you may be wondering what television is for. Think of it as an early warning system. When the doll approaches, its energy should be strong enough to affect the strength of the signal or even change the channel.
How to End the Game
- Take a mouthful of saltwater from the cup you prepared earlier, but don’t swallow. Keep the cup in your hand.
- With the saltwater still in your mouth, come out from your hiding place and begin to look for the doll. Do not assume it will be in the bathtub. Check your home thoroughly.
- Once you find the doll, pour the remaining saltwater from your cup over its form, and finish by spitting the saltwater in your mouth uniformly over the doll.
- Loudly and clearly repeats, “I win, I win, I win”.
Adaptions of One-Man Hide and Seek
The clue should be somewhere in the name but if you forget the “one man” part of the game you’re certainly no longer playing the game correctly but that hasn’t stopped adaptions like this from spreading on social media. Make of that what you will.
Should You Play One-man Hide and Seek?
It’s like I always say: telling someone not to do something is a surefire way of ensuring they’ll immediately do it. And when you invite a spirit into a vessel, you may not know who will show up. so be prepared for anything.
Do your research, follow the instructions to the letter (particularly involving purification) and you shouldn’t experience any ill effects.
Obsessed by ghost hunting and all things paranormal. Chris spends a lot of time (some would say too much time) investigating ghosts and spirits and documenting stories and paranormal communication. He teaches aspiring ghost hunters in the Paranormal Academy.