Previously: Mari Lwyd.
Type: EV (Electronic Virus).
Period/location of origin: 2006, Japan, the internet.
Appearance: Subject, sometimes referred to as the 2ch Otsukaresama cursed picture, initially appears to be a photograph of six traditional Japanese dolls, all quite old and in something of a rough state. What look to be dirt smudges are present on the dolls and their clothing, and the dolls who have hair — three of them — are in need of some wig maintenance. One of the three remaining dolls is mostly bald, with just a small patch of fuzz on the top of the head. The other two dolls do not have heads at all. All of the dolls are dressed in red.
The important thing, though, is this:
Subject is not the photograph itself.
The photograph is inconsequential.
Subject is… complicated.
Subject is what occurs should one view the photograph, and what occurs after one views the photograph.
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Subject is largely dependent on — is, perhaps, defined by — the actions of targets, and how they respond to the photograph when presented with access to it and instructions on what to do or not to do with it.
For this reason, subject is perhaps better described as the 2ch Otsukaresama curse — full stop.
Modus operandi: Subject will make itself known to targets via the internet: It will appear on a web forum, message board, social media platform, or similar in the form of a link to a JPG file posted alongside a message instructing those who see it not to view the JPG. Should one click on the link and view the JPG, they will see the previously described photograph (see: Appearance) — and will become an identified target.
Approximately 10 minutes after the initial post appears, targets will then be informed in a new message from the original poster that a “service” or “memorial service” will commence shortly. Targets who wish to participate in the service will be instructed to prepare a glass of water and to notify the original poster when they have made these preparations. The tone of the message suggests that it is highly recommended targets participate in the service, for their own safety.
Once targets have made the required preparations, the original poster will instruct them to turn out the lights, wherever they are located, and to repeat a specific chant or incantation aloud several times. Then, targets will be instructed to drink the glass of water. After targets have drunk the glass of water, the original poster will inform them that the service is over and that any evil in, around, or near them has been purged. They will then be thanked for their support and their hard work.
Note: As subject will only present itself on Japanese language sites and platforms, the phrase used to thank targets for their support and hard work is and will always be “otsukaresama deshita,” rendered as “おつかれさまでした.” (See: Additional notes.)
Should targets inquire about the point of the whole thing, the original poster will clarify that the photograph itself is not the issue. The photograph is not cursed. The photograph means nothing. The issue, per the original poster, is what targets choose to do upon being told not to look at the photograph: Choosing to look at the photograph anyway indicates that there is evil inside those who respond in this way. Ergo, the image is provided to help people identify whether they are in need of cleaning, and then appropriate service provided for those who do.
The trouble is… the original poster may be lying.
In fact, the original poster is almost certainly lying.
Performing all of these actions — looking at the photograph; preparing the water; turning out the lights; chanting the chant; and finally drinking the water — may not purge you of evil.
It may, in fact, welcome evil into your soul.
Containment: Although subject’s original source of documentation has been scrubbed from the internet, it has been copied, reposted, and otherwise archived in numerous other online locations in the years since. It is no less potent for its preserved status; reading the report now, and performing the actions described within it now, will have the same effect upon a target today as it would have at the time of origin. It should therefore still be considered a temptation, and a danger.
Additional notes: Re: The aforementioned original source of documentation: Subject’s only known documented appearance occurred in 2006 on the Japanese message board system 2ch, now 5ch. On Feb. 4 of that year, a user posted a link to a JPG, along with the message, “Do not ever look at this.”
(Note: The URL originally hosting the JPG is no longer operational and will lead only to an error message if access is attempted. Those who wish to view the image this URL once hosted may do so here.)
Not quite 10 minutes later, the poster of this message and image posted another message addressed to those who viewed the image regarding the “service” that was about to begin. For the next 15 minutes, events unfolded as described above (see: Modus operandi).
Following the conclusion of the “service” — and for the next eight days — the original poster proceeded to engage with any 2ch users who addressed them, providing personalized services for any who required them. After Feb. 12, 2006, however, they ceased posting and have not been heard from since.
However, a number of 2ch users continued the discussion through early April of 2006 — and eventually, these users arrived at some troubling realizations which shed new light on the strange events that had occurred over the previous two months:
Because the original poster was not upfront about the nature of their thread, those who participated in the “service” did not do so from a place of informed consent. This suggested that the original poster’s intent was much more nefarious than they had led other 2ch users to believe. When viewed from a different angle, the original poster had not innocently offered a necessary service for those who required it, who could then choose to accept it if they so desired; rather, the original poster had coerced users — had coerced targets — into participating in the “service.” Furthermore, the end goal of the original poster’s tactics became clearer upon closer examination of their message indicating the completion of the “service” — particularly in the use of the phrase “otsukaresama deshita.”
The word “otsukaresama” is typically written as “お疲れ様” — that is, it uses kanji. But although the original poster had used kanji throughout their previous messages, here, they rendered “otsukaresama” as “おつかれさま,” using only the phonetic hiragana characters. The kanji used to write “otsukaresama” matters a great deal; that’s what gives it the specific meaning in which the phrase “otsukaresama deshita” is frequently encountered: As a way to thank someone for completing hard work or a difficult task. The phrase acknowledges the fact that it is often exhausting or tiring to do this kind of work, and therefore thanks the recipient both for the actual fruits of their labor, and the effort they have put it in to deliver it.
However, by removing the kanji from the equation, you also strip the word “otsukaresama” of its context and eliminate the piece of the puzzle that indicates the full meaning of the phrase in which the word appears. When rendered phonetically, “otsukaresama” can mean several things — and one possible meaning is “possessed.” As in, by an evil spirit.
It is therefore possible that, at the conclusion of the “service,” the original poster did not state, “Thank you for your hard work,” but rather, “You have been possessed.”
This possibility became even more concerning when the remaining 2ch users pointed out that water is often used to attract spirits and other entities. Through the repetition of the chant provided by the original poster, such spirits could have been drawn into the water — spirits which targets would have then consumed and brought into themselves when they drank the water, thereby becoming possessed.
Put bluntly: It is possible that the original poster first lured targets in through the use of the photograph, and then cursed them through the “service” they convinced them to perform afterwards.
However, the discussion eventually died out without further report from those who participated in the “service.” It is not known how these targets fared, or what may or may not have befallen them as their lives progressed.
The original poster has also not resurfaced since disappearing after Feb. 12, 2006.
The identity of the original poster also remains unknown, as does their underlying motivations for seeding subject to the internet in the first place.
Recommendation: You may look at the photograph if you like.
Just… maybe don’t drink a glass of water immediately afterwards.
Don’t turn out the lights, either.
And definitely don’t repeat any chants or incantations.
Original 2ch thread, archived. (In Japanese.)
Original 2ch thread, alternative archive. (In Japanese.)
A reading of the original 2ch thread on YouTube. (In Japanese. Pay attention at the two-minute mark.)
The original URL of the doll photograph. (No longer functioning.)
“Otsukaresama deshita: A simple two-word phrase in Japanese can say volumes in English.”
“Otsukaresama: The Magical Japanese Phrase for Everything!”
“Internet Mysteries: Otsukaresama, the Cursed Image.”
Follow The Ghost In My Machine on Twitter @GhostMachine13 and on Facebook @TheGhostInMyMachine. And for more games, don’t forget to check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available now from Chronicle Books!
[Photo via Joshgmit/Pixabay]
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