The Pandemic’s Most Innovative Haunted Houses Originate From Tokyo

Kowagarasetai in Tokyo has created the world’s most innovation haunted houses designed for the pandemic, included the drive through haunt and haunted toilet

Tokyo ’s Kowagarasetai (which translates as, “The Frightening Corps”) horror entertainment company recently created a haunted toilet, a screaming coffin experience, and the world’s first drive-in haunt in a parking garage. The drive-in haunt has spread throughout the world, with dozens of attractions now copying the model.

All these single-occupant-only experiences have innovatively addressed concerns about COVID-19 with terrifying results. Kowagarasetai’s motto is, “Create the scariest haunted house and horror event in any space.”

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Image Credit: Japan Times

Hang Out with Hanako-san of the Toilet

Lagunasia amusement park in Gamagōri, Aichi brought in Kowagarasetai to create a horror experience that limits congestion and contact—a haunted toilet. The inspiration for this haunt is a Japanese urban legend about the spirit of the young girl, Hanako-san, who haunts school bathrooms. Lagunasia made an agreement with Hanako-san to inhabit one of the bathrooms on its property to create, “Dread! Hanako-san of the Toilet.” Each person enters the private room—which has a real toilet—alone. Inside, Hanako-san awaits. The room is disinfected after each guest’s session.

The haunted restroom is part of the amusement park’s “With Corona Horror Fest 2020,” which takes place from October 3 to December 6.  

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Image Credit: Japan Times

How About Some Quality Time in a Screaming Casket?

Kowagarasetai’s Scream Coffin places visitors in a Japanese-style casket—complete with a window used to view the deceased at funerals from which the guest can see out. There are also air holes for breathing and to let the occupant see and hear the monsters lurking outside. The guest wears headphones blasting stereophonic sounds they’re unable to block. This “haunted house” in a coffin avoids the three Cs associated with coronavirus—closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close-contact settings). The Scream Coffin is located in the Shinjuku VIP Lounge in Tokyo but can be set up almost anywhere. The casket is sterilized and aired out between guests.

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Image Credit: Kowagarasetai

If Haunted Toilets and Caskets Seem Too Intense, the Drive-in Haunted House May Be Just the Ticket

Kowagarasetai is also the team behind Tokyo’s first drive-in haunt, which simulates being stuck in a car during a zombie outbreak. Because of the coronavirus, Kenta Iwana, Kowagarasetai’s founder, realized there would be no way to have a traditional haunted house with lots of people screaming in a small, confined space. He happened to read that drive-in theaters were making a comeback, and that was his inspiration for the drive-in haunt.

Guests drive into a covered parking garage in a building in central Tokyo. Once the car engine is turned off, the garage door closes and guests are plunged into absolute darkness. The drivers receive Bluetooth speakers, and then the mayhem begins. The 20-minute experience includes Sadako-style, blood-soaked zombies flinging themselves against the car and climbing onto the hood, just as one would imagine would happen during a zombie apocalypse. Guests may choose to have their vehicle “decorated” with “blood” by zombies for an extra fee. For guests who don’t have a car, rentals are available.

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Image Credit: Kowagarasetai

Safety measures to protect both actors and customers are in place. Each car is wiped with alcohol to reduce the risk for actors. The rental cars are lined with plastic, which is replaced for every customer. The car is also wiped clean of fake blood. 

This event initially took place in the summer of 2020 (the traditional scary season in Japan) and tickets for additional performances have sold out, but a cancelation lottery database has been set up on the Kowagaraserai website.