Every year as summer arrives and ghost stories begin to be broadcast on TV, haunted houses open for a limited time in areas across the country, becoming a big topic of conversation.
I would like to introduce two unique haunted houses, open only for a limited time, which have brought excitement to their respective areas.
■“Magic-Reality: Corridor, in akasaka Sacas
Within the entertainment industry it is popular to attempt to provide valuable new experiences utilizing cutting-edge technology. This facility is one of those attempts to use the newest technology available within the haunted house world.
It is located in front of Akasaka station, in an indoor corner of the venue for “TBS Delicious Sacas 2017”, an annual summer event.
Inside is an empty space, with the walls and floor covered in green. Participants get ready by putting on an HMD (Head Mount Display) with headphones, made by HTC, putting a PC on their back like a rucksack, and holding a lantern in one hand, while gripping a ring along with the other participants with the other.
■What Sort of Technology is it?
HMDs are most often associated with VR (Virtual Reality), however in this case the technology used in known as MR (Mixed Reality).
※This particular facility calls it “Magic Reality”.
While VR creates a 3D virtual world separated from reality, MR technology incorporates information from the real world into the virtual one, creating a world in which both real and virtual worlds combine and overlap.
At this facility, the cameras mounted on the HMDs capture your own arms and legs, along with the bodies of other participants in real time, and transport, not only you, but all of the participants into a virtual world in which you find yourselves inside a Gothic-style mansion.
An HTC VIVE is installed at the top of the room, and it tracks the motion and location of the participants.
■Production Characteristics, Content of the Experience
The content of the experience is about 5 minutes in length. Two participants slowly walk through the corridors of a terrifyingly beautiful Gothic mansion. Relying on a virtual magic square for directions.
Doors that open on their own when you draw near, creatures that spring out towards you, slowly moving ghosts. Sudden startling noises. Countless grasshoppers that jump out if you shine the lantern on them.
If you make your way through the labyrinthine rooms you will come across an elevator and be able to virtually move up and down as well.
It is a very different experience than running around scared in a traditional haunted house. You could call it the experience of being frightened by being immersed in, and transfixed by, a meticulously assembled virtual world.
Making my way through the hauntingly beautiful Gothic mansion. In my right hand is the lantern.
When the elevator doors open…
Who is the woman lingering in the back of the hallway…
■The Thought Behind “Corridor”
Japanese venture firm TYFFON handled it.
They previously developed the smartphone application “Zombie Booth” which boasts 35 million downloads in total for the series. After that they garnered attention and have received investments from Disney.
After my experience, I sat down to speak with Mr. Fukuzawa, the founder and CEO of TYFFON.
Mr. Fukuzawa, CEO of TYFFON
――How did you come to handle an attraction such as this?
I’ve loved horror since I was a child. My very first oil painting, when I was in middle school, was of a room with a skull in it. The image of going through the “Haunted Mansion” at Disneyland when I was 4 or 5 years old was a formative experience that I still vividly remember.
After that I always loved painting while I was a student, I looked up to Leonardo Da Vinci. I studied computer science at university.
After graduation, I worked at a foreign-affiliated IT firm for some time, then went freelance. After that, I was at a Sony-affiliated venture company before starting TYFFON. During that time, I handled 3D CG animation and had some of my work shown at a film festival overseas.
――Was there anything that you were very particular about, or that was of importance to you while you were creating this?
It was more important to me to stimulate people’s imaginations through allowing them to experience a world based on the Western horror aesthetic I love, than to frighten them in the way traditional haunted houses do.
――Why do you think it is that people seek out these frightening experiences?
Perhaps through putting themselves through an extreme state of fear, people are preparing themselves for death, which we all must encounter, but are unable to experience.
――What sort of plans do you have for the future?
Right now, the experience is 5 minutes in length, but in October I will be opening a permanent facility in Odaiba, the TYFFONIUM, with a 10-minute program. It will have a stronger story, and will diverge depending on the actions of the participants.
In this coming era where media is changing from screen to space, I’d like TYFFON to use the newest technology to create a theme park-like space, where visitors can have new experiences.
■The “Super Horror Museum” which suddenly appeared in Yaesu Shopping Mall
Afternoon in the Yaesu underground shopping mall, where, during summer vacation, it is not only businessmen, but also families that come to visit.
Suddenly in the “Center Spot” right in the middle of the path, a crowd gathers and the screams of women can occasionally be heard.
Super Horror Museum
Open for a limited time right around Obon, from August 9th to 22nd, this attraction consists of five different corners.
・Photo Booth:“Souvenir Photo with the Zombie Office Lady!”
・Display Area:“Underground Laboratory of Nightmares”
・VR:“Obakeria VR Creeping Zone”
・Experience:“Japan’s Smallest Haunted House”
・Shop:“Horror Goods Shop”
■“Super Horror Museum” Highlights
Considering the type of location, Yaesu Shopping Mall, the most surprising was the first attraction, “Souvenir Photo with the Zombie Office Lady!”.
In the crowded underground shopping area, the woman lurking in zombie costume make up is enough to attract the crowd’s attention.
Then, if you try asking her, she will very happily take a souvenir photo with you.
Searching Twitter for the hashtag “#ヤベー地下” reveals that a great number of photos have been posted.
— 東京駅 八重洲地下街 (@yaechika) 2017年8月16日
The scream mentioned above came from a woman sitting in a mobile chair, enjoying “Obakeria VR Creeping Zone”, and “Japan’s Smallest Haunted House” using an HMD.
This haunted house is a space of a couple of meters squared, with hallways to the front, back, left, and right. If you enter inside, you can see an arrangement of several elaborately made objects.
Japan’s Smallest Haunted House, Interior
Of course, as it is a haunted house, that is not all, and you will suddenly experience terrifying things.
In the display zone “Underground Laboratory of Nightmares”, you can see several of the gadgets used to make things like zombies move in attractions such as haunted houses. This area was also crowded with spectators.
Display Zone:“Underground Laboratory of Nightmares”
Unlike traditional haunted houses, which only have one attraction, the “Super Horror Museum” has VR content, a display section, a shop, and a photo corner all at once. They are also active on social media.
Another highlight is how this area is set up within the Yaesu Shopping Mall, an everyday place very far removed from a haunted house.
■What I Learned this Time
Things which were once considered out of the ordinary are gradually making their way into more every day areas, offering new types of experiences. People are also coming to seek more stimulation from unusual places.
What spaces and times within people’s everyday lives can use the latest in technology to provide new valuable experiences?
I think this may contain a hint for the future of the entertainment industry.
Yaesu Shopping Mall “Super Horror Museum”
・The Evolution of the Haunted House～ Creating an Attraction Using the Power of ‘Fear’(Part 1: Daiba Haunted School, Ifu Musebi-ya)
・An IP business model for the sharing generation which uses time as its main value standard
・Why is Nico-nama better than other livestreaming services?－The appeal of “Nico-nama”, according to livestream hosts－
(Article: Kazuya Yoshida)
(Coverage Cooperation: Kenichi Nakamura)
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.