Like a lot of weird sleepover games, the Thumb Game is a “Cursed Game” based on a Japanese urban legend, this one about a woman who was allegedly murdered in a villa and chopped into little pieces.
Her body parts were then spread around the villa for . . . whatever reason.
The police found all the pieces of the woman’s body except for her left thumb.
Can you see where this is going?
The Thumb Game Origins
What most people don’t realize is that the Thumb Game is not only based on a Japanese urban legend but also a novel and a book adaptation.
The novel, titled Vanished, was written by Yusuke Yamada and was the story of a group of young children who played the Thumb Game only to have their friend, Yumi, completely disappear!
In 2006, the novel was adapted into a film with the same title (Vanished) and has never had a U.S. release. Sounds pretty interesting.
I’m half-inclined to see the film, at least. I’m not sure the novel has been translated, but the film would at least have translated close captions.
As you might have guessed, the Thumb Game owes its recent popularity to the book and subsequent novel that featured it.
Kind of how The Craft made Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board such a sleepover fav back in the 90’s.
More Fun Trivia
The reference to the murder location as a “villa” is actually a common mistranslation.
But because I didn’t realize that until after I wrote this entire article, I’m going to keep calling it a villa.
I mean, I could just use the Find and Replace function, but it’s funnier if I don’t.
Originally, the location of the murder was referred to as a “cottage,” which in Japanese would imply a holiday home or secondary residence.
The more you know, huh?
You might also like the Cat Scratch Game
How to Play
The object of the game is to find the dead woman’s thumb! (Even though it’s been, like, decades since she was murdered, and the thumb is probably now a white bone you could easily mistake for a rock.)
But to find the thumb, you need to invoke some kind of ritual that takes you to the place where she was murdered.
If you screw up the ritual in any way, then you become trapped in the location of the murder . . . forever! Dun dun dun!!!
Now, why in the world would you want to go looking for a dead lady’s thumb?
Because anyone who finds the thumb is granted a wish!
Apparently, being horribly murdered and chopped into sushi grants dead people magic powers or something.
I don’t know. Just go with it.
Ideally, you would need a group of people for this, not just one or two.
The more people looking for the thumb, the better chance you have of finding it, right?
So drag at least two other people down with you!
This means you need at least
four three people to play the game. (I’m not bad at math. It’s just been a long day. Leave me alone!)
Step 1: Have everyone sit in a circle. Simple enough, right?
Step 2: Place a candle in the center of the circle and light it.
Step 3: Now everyone should grab the left thumb of the person on their right. My right, not your right. Don’t get confused. Stay with me. It’s easy.
Step 4: Everyone should close their eyes and imagine they are in the villa where the woman was murdered.
Step 5: Now everyone must chant the following twice:
“Oyaybubi, Oyayubi, hear our voices.
Oyayubi, Oyayubi, grant our wish.”
Alternatively, instead of chanting you can just visualize the villa (yes, yes, I mean the cottage) where the woman was murdered.
You don’t have to do the creepy chant at all.
Step 6: You should find yourself in the villa (ha, okay, sure) and should start looking for the thumb immediately.
You have until the candle burns out so get crackin’, because if you don’t find the thumb in time, you are stuck here forever! *Spooky Noises*
Rules of the Game
Now that you know how to play the game, here are some rules to keep you safe.
These are apparently extremely important rules since not following them will mean becoming trapped in the villa forever (and ever and ever). *More Spooky Noises*
- Rule number one? If you feel someone tap on your shoulder, do not look back. I repeat: do not look back. If you look back, you won’t turn to a pile of ash or salt or anything, but you also won’t be able to return from the villa. In fact, you will switch places with the tapper and will be forced to remain in the villa forever, tapping people on the shoulder in an attempt to escape. Sounds like fun, right?
- Do not let go of anyone’s thumb during the entire process. If you do, that person will lose their left thumb, just like the woman who was murdered!
- Do not open your eyes. Not sure why this rule applies. Maybe you’ll get dust in them. Wouldn’t want that!
- Do not allow the candle to burn out. Because, again, you’ll get stuck.
- Do not look behind you. Because the spirit of the murderer is likely still at the villa, waiting for the next victim, and looking behind you will . . . make you vulnerable somehow? I don’t know. I need coffee.
Here are some more Scary Games to Play
Winning the Game
If you do find the severed thumb, don’t worry.
You’re allowed to let go of your friend’s thumb to grab it.
And now that you’ve got the poor woman’s (eww) severed thumb, hold it tightly, then blow out the candle and make a wish.
You will find you have returned to the “real world” and your wish will be granted.
What will you wish for?
Me personally, I would wish for an end to all suffering.
And also a million dollars.
I think both could be spun as one wish, no?