Thriller Restaurant Series – Volume 18
The Computer Cursed by Oiwasan
By Matsutani Miyoko
So, this story actually happened. My uncle works at the Edo Tokyo Museum. It’s in the Ryougoku area of Tokyo near Kokugikan Sumo Stadium. The museum opened about eight years ago. This story happened around that time.
The museum is called “Edo Tokyo Museum”, so the items on display are a little different than you’d see at other museums. There’s one very special showpiece. They have a miniature Kabuki performance called “Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan” which is an old ghost story. I went and saw it, and it was really cool. The miniature stage was set up as an old-fashioned room with a Buddhist altar in the front. Standing before the altar is the leading actor, Iemon. After a shamisen starts playing with its thin “pen, pen, pen” stringy sound, a paper lantern hung from the eaves of the front entrance of the house gradually lights up. After that, it gets scary.
The lantern turns bright red and a ghost, with its woooooo– sound, breaks through the paper and stands with disheveled hair in the middle of the lantern. Some unseen power pulls Iemon toward the altar in a jagged, staggering motion. A ghostly pale hand stretches from within the altar in a smooth motion. The arm stretches and stretches and pulls Iemon into the altar. Next, the wall spins again and again.
The ghost is crazy powerful. It if was a puppet, it could easily stretch its arm unnaturally long, but in the Edo period, it was a real altar with real people playing the parts. How did a human crawl out of a paper lantern? How could a human be pulled into a solid wood altar?
To show people the trick, the Edo Tokyo Museum set up a mirror on the miniature stage, so you can see how the ghost works from behind the scenes where stage hands are, like, moving around busily controlling the device. The museum could show us the trick because there’s a computer controlling the miniature replica, ya know.
The project team at the museum was stretching to the breaking point to construct it and worked super hard on the project. They tested it over and over; the lantern lighting up, turning red, and Oiwasan:s appearance.
“Kids are gonna love it.”
“Well, not just kids. Adults will be amazed, too. They’ll be able to see the trick behind the performance onstage.”
The following day was the grand opening of the exhibit. Many important people and CEOs would come to check it out. Before that, they turned on the switch which would reveal the stage’s secret trick to viewers.
It wouldn’t move. Not even an inch.
The project team’s faces turned red and they searched the computer to find the problem. They looked, but there wasn’t anything wrong with the program.
“What happened? What’s wrong? There’s no way we’ll fix it for opening day. Who’s the manager?” a museum CEO said angrily at the project team, causing them to turn even more flushed with embarrassment.
Someone said in a hysterical voice, “Wait, what if this is Yotsuya Kaidan’s fault? It’s a ghost story, so maybe it makes sense this would happen.”
“Well, we did make a model of a ghost story.”
“When portraying an image of a ghost, shouldn’t we go to a shrine or grave to make sure we don’t disrespect the dead? We still should do it, even if it is a Kabuki play or a movie. Hey, has anyone gone to Oiwa Inari Shinto shrine in Shinjuku Kusamonchou town to receive blessing from the spirit?”
Nobody wanted to speak up. Even though they’d all heard this superstition before, they hadn’t taken it seriously.
“So then, let’s go now to apologize to Oiwasan and ask if it’s okay to proceed with the reenactment,” someone said. The museum employees went to visit Oiwa Inari Shinto shrine, received an ofuda paper amulet which was usually put in one’s house for protection, and affixed it to the computer.
It moved! It really moved. They heard the “chinton-chinton” plucking of shamisen strings, the lantern slowly lit up, turned red, and Oiwasan’s ghost floated out. Everyone cried out and breathed sighs of relief, bowing out of respect and saying to Oiwasan, “Thank you. We’re counting on you”.
Really, though, just go and see it at the Edo Period Museum in Tokyo. It’s totally interesting. Either way, Oiwasan’s ghost is really powerful because it cursed that computer, ya know.
For this short story, I am indebted to the groundsman at my school. He helped me through the hardest part of this story and because of his patience and super-drawing skills, you get to enjoy this story and the hyperlinks to important aspects of this story.
Enjoy the embarrassing pictures of Terry’s inability to understand elementary level Japanese! My pages usually aren’t this covered in notes, just in case you’re thinking they are…