From Saya: The numbers in brackets show that there is additional information in the footnotes below.
A group of eight high school students, four girls and four boys, met in a house to tell one another ghost stories. The night came and they decided to go and do kimo-dameshi (1*) But the main reason for doing so wasn’t to test their courage, but it was that they could play the game in boy-and-girl pairs. It didn’t really matter where they went so they just chose to go to their high school (2*).
Their high school building was very old; it was nearly a hundred years old(3*). In the dark, the building looked more formidable than it did during the day.
The group duly split up in four pairs. They could not go inside the building so all they would do was to walk around the school ground once which would take about twenty minutes in all.
The group’s spirit was high and there were a lot of loud teasings as the first pair set off.
Twenty minute passed, and then thirty minutes gone... But the pair didn’t show up. “Wonder what kind of things they’re doing all by themselves?” the second pair said jokingly as they set off into the dark. But they too did not come back.
By then the ones who were left behind were starting to feel uneasy.
The third pair left, assuring the remaining two that as soon as they 'd finished the game they would come back on the double and that if possible, bring all the others back with them too. However, this was not to be, since the third pair also disappeared.
It had already been more than two hours since the first group set off. The girl of the last pair got scared and broke down in tears. Her partner said to her; “don’t worry. I’m going out there alone to find out what’s happening. If I don’t return in thirty minutes, go straight to the police. Don’t wait for me, OK?” Then the boy ran off.
He did not come back either; even so the girl, crying, waited for an hour before going to the police. The police accompanied her back to the school but at first they could not tell where all the boys and girls were gone. It was when the sky was beginning to get lighter that they reached an old, disused gymanasium.
The police went in there and saw that the door to the lavatory was open; when they stepped inside the lavatory they found the missing seven, all hanging by the neck from the ceiling. All of them were dead. From what the surviving girl testified those seven had no reason to commit suicide at all. But they could not find any evidence of murder, so in the end the incident was dismissed as a case of mass hysteria. The curious thing is, the school was not known for any ghostly stories.
1* Kimo-dameshi can be translated as a game of dare or a test of courage. This usually involves exploring supposedly haunted places, either alone or in small groups. On returning, the participants are sometimes asked to show a proof of their adventure. It is a popular game among young people and is often played in summer.
2* Schools in Japan often have their own ghostly tales associated with them. I don’t know why, but I guess strange rumours always spring up where a lot of people gather and many mini-dramas are enacted on a daily basis. In times of war or natural disaster school is always the place for the local people to seek refuge; perhaps this is another reason why dark tales arise from it.
There is something eerie about a huge building which is so noisy and full of people during the day, but is in sharp contrast often totally deserted during the night.
3* Buildings nearly a hundred years old would be seen as old in Japan, where the building are often made of woods and as such they are hard to preserve. As a nation we are often plagued by earthquakes, and stone building just wouldn’t be practical for us.