Hide and Seek with a Teddy Bear

Background: My informant was a young Filipino  girl who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She currently is a student at the University of Minnesota studying Double B.A. Global Studies and Cultural Studies.

NOTICE: This is the “same” folklore I reported in my Hitori Kakurenbo, but told from a different completely unrelated informant and using a slightly different series of steps. It is most interesting because they learned about it through hearsay rather than through media like the first informant. I will list what is the same below and then follow with a list of discrepancies between the two stories.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the story was told to her by her two friends who are of Chinese and Vietnamese descent. They are not Japanese, but due to their Asian heritage they may have had contact with the original story to some degree. They described the story as of “probably Japanese or Korean” origin.

The Same  

Main Piece: My informant described a strange sequence of rituals that is played by presumably young people who enact a “Bloody Mary”-style ritual to play hide and seek with a demon. You must complete a series of ritualistic actions in order to play with the demon through the medium of a doll. Again, like the original/prior reported, you first take a doll, name it, and you must fill up a bathtub with water. You are also again supposed to play alone and with all the lights off (though the informant did not mention electronics like the prior reported).

The Different

After this, there is many discrepancies in the story. Firstly, the doll is supposed to be something like a Teddy Bear, because you should not (according to the informant) use a human doll. Anything with limbs will do. Then you cut it open with something sharp, not necessarily a knife. In fact, it’s not recommended to be a knife as the doll is said to stab you with it (similar to the prior reported story). Next you must fill it with rice. After this, you have to put something of your body within as well. It can be fingernails or a drop of blood, but either way it must be from you. Then you have to sew it back up with red thread. You then stab the doll. You find a hiding spot. You put the teddy bear in the tub (as prior) and then you go hide. Then, the ending is similar to the other. With your knife, you go back into the bathroom, the teddy bear shouldn’t be there. Then you have to find it and then you have to stab it to kill it.

The informant thinks this type of supernatural event could be real. She did not know whether it was real or not, but she wouldn’t want to try because she wouldn’t want to find out. She seemed afraid and avoided eye contact with me a lot during her description of the story. This is very different from the last informant who previously described it as “psychotic”.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it shows how there are different modes through which stories can be passed. Sometimes they are passed through authored and derivative work, and other times, hearsay and the internet spread the stories to the point of becoming beyond recognition of origin. This new story even used a specific non-Asian doll as the main centerpiece rather than a more traditional doll. It is really interesting to witness the multiplicity and variation myself, as I asked these two informants to separately provide me some folklore, neither of them knowing one another nor knowing they would tell me this story.