Previously: The One Who Answers.
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Like many Japanese ritual games, the Welcome Home Game — or, as it may also be translated, the Welcome Back Game — is minimal both in its details and its aim: It’s quick and simple to perform, and has no goal other than to allow you to sit in the presence of something seemingly supernatural for a while. There’s no prize; there’s no antagonist; and there’s no real challenge to overcome while playing it.
But, as always, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe.
The oldest version of this game I’ve been able to find dates back to 2005: On July 16 of that year, it was posted to Japanese social networking platform Mixi. It then appeared on 2ch a little less than a year later, posted to a thread titled “日食オフやろうぜ,” or (per Google Translate) “Let’s turn off the eclipse,” on April 29, 2006 (scroll down to post number 165 to see it). Notably, this later appearance was a wholesale copy-paste of the earlier one — and, indeed, that same pattern would hold for many years thereafter as the game was copied and pasted over and over and over again, making it a creepypasta in the truest sense. It’s only in recent years that it’s started to change a little bit, although the changes are mainly in the form of the story — the content is pretty much the same.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
It’s also possible, by the way, that the game and its story existed before 2005, as well. That’s just where the trail went cold for me. My point is, this one has been around for a while — at least 15 years. And that, as they say, isn’t nothing.
Interestingly, the older versions do contain one element the newer versions don’t: A postscript that functions as a sort of origin story for the game. According to this postscript, the method was allegedly discovered by an investigative reporter covering a missing person story; when the reported went to the missing girl’s house, they found a piece of paper with the phrases “Welcome home” and “You must be tired” written on it. The reporter subsequently went missing a few days later, leaving behind a piece of paper with the same phrases written on it as the one found in the missing girl’s room.
In addition to serving as an origin story, this postscript also suggests what might happen to players who break the rules while playing. So, y’know… consider yourselves warned.
And, of course, play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A piece of paper.
- A writing implement.
- A dark, quiet room.
- A timer. (Optional.)
- Salt. (Optional.)
Making The Preparations:
- Wait until shortly before midnight.
- At that time, enter your dark, quiet room. Bring the paper, writing implement, timer (if using), and salt (if using) with you.
- Close the door behind you. Draw the curtains or block the windows. And, lastly, turn off the lights.
- At midnight, take up the writing implement and write the following words on the piece of paper: “Welcome home.”
- Then, on the next line below those words, write the phrase, “You must be tired.”
- If using the timer, set it for one minute.
- Focus your gaze on the piece of paper and the words you wrote on it.
- Stare at the paper for one, complete minute.
- Do not blink.
- Do not look away.
Welcoming Your Visitor:
- If using the timer, turn it off after it has indicated that one minute has passed.
- Now: Listen.
- Do not turn around or look behind you — but listen.
- You may feel a presence behind you.
- Do not be alarmed.
- You may hear a voice behind you.
- Do not be alarmed.
- The voice may say something like, “I’m home…” or, “I’m so tired…”
- Do not be alarmed.
- Do NOT turn around or look behind you — but do not be alarmed.
- Simply sit, and wait, and listen.
- There is no prescribed method for ending the game; you must simply wait until your visitor chooses to depart.
- If you feel the game has gone on for too long, however, you may attempt a force-stop by scattering salt around yourself.
- But DO NOT TURN AROUND OR LOOK BEHIND YOU as you do so.
It is not recommended that bystanders be present for this game. Accordingly, for best results, the dark, quiet room in which you choose to play should be emptied of other people, pets, etc. before beginning.
Some Japanese sources for this game specify that the phrases “Welcome home” and “You must be tired” must be written using only hiragana characters. Although it is believed that this game may be played successfully in languages other than Japanese, you may wish to learn to write these two phrases in hiragana, in the event that other languages are not met with success.
- “Welcome home” may be written as follows: おかえりなさい
- “You must be tired” may be written as follows: つかれたでしょ
NOTE: If you feel or hear nothing during Welcoming Your Visitor, Steps 4 through 11, the ritual has failed; do not proceed. Instead, pack up your supplies, scatter salt around the room, and exit the room, closing the door behind. Do not return to the room until the sun has risen.
Safeguards, And A Warning:
Once you have completed Making The Preparations, Steps 1 through 5 — once you have written the words “Welcome home” and “You must be tired” on the piece of paper — do NOT turn around or look behind you at ANY POINT until your visitor has departed.
It is not known what precisely befalls those who do not heed this warning for the simple reason that none of them has ever been heard from again.
But whatever it is…
…It can’t be good.
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[Photo via Bru-nO/Pixabay]