Upon the severed heads of forty thousand foes, the Pax Tokugawa was founded. The year 1600 marked the end of a period of wars, which saw the defeat of the forces opposed to General Ieyasu Tokugawa.
Without the constant presence of war and the memories of past atrocities, epic tales with dark and terrifying themes were able to flourish, such as the ritual of the hundred candles, which is believed to have been invented by certain samurai in the 17th century as a way to prove their courage.
The Yōkai exhibition opens with an immersive room that allows visitors to relive this terrifying and legendary experience. The ritual of the hundred candles would start after sunset, as the samurai gathered in a room lit only by the glow of a hundred candles. As part of the ritual, each samurai had to tell a story featuring Yōkai, the legendary monsters of Japan, to their comrades, in order to test their courage and scare them to the bone. After each story, the storyteller would stand up, extinguish a lantern candle, take a mirror, and gaze into it from the farthest corner of the room. As the room grew progressively darker, the stories became more and more chilling, filled with suspense and terror.