Photo/IllutrationHisashi Kobatake, president of Daitoku Corp., stands in the renewed "Chi no Ito" haunted house at his company in Kanazawa. (Arata Mitsui)

  • Photo/Illustraion

KANAZAWA—When I opened the door marked Daitoku General Hospital and took a few steps inside, I was buffeted by a cold breeze. Terrifying sounds filled my ears through headphones, and as I ventured further a ghoulish sight suddenly appeared in a mirror...

A hospital-themed haunted house set up at Daitoku Corp., a printing company in Kanazawa, reopened in October, with the promise of more thrills and chills.

The free attraction, called "Chi no Ito" (Thread of blood), was launched last autumn and renewed over the summer to mark the one-year anniversary.

Daitoku President Hisashi Kobatake, 52, proposed the idea of creating the haunted house, which has drawn about 250 visitors so far.

The company, founded in 1975, prints newspaper fliers and other products, but due to an increase in online shopping, it has had fewer visits in person from clients.

"I started missing people," Kobatake said. "I wanted to make visiting my company an interesting and memorable experience."

Kobatake, a longtime fan of haunted houses, turned to Kanazawa College of Art here for help in creating the spooky "hospital."

For the original installment, 13 students redesigned rooms previously used for meetings and a photo studio. The resulting haunted house looked so real that visitors said it felt like an actual abandoned hospital.

The summer renovation was completed by four students of the same college, with the main difference being that visitors are given a mission using parts of realistic-looking phantom models, among other scary surprises.

Sato Ito, 21, a visual design major, said, “For some parts of the route, visitors used to just walk without horror elements, but we redesigned it to make it scarier.”

Haruka Koyago, 19, also a visual design major, said, “I hope people notice the details, which are superb, and illuminate them with a flashlight.”

Having observed the commitment of students to offer a spooky experience, Kobatake said: "They created frightening things beyond imagination, at little cost. I'm very impressed."

He believes that the attraction has had positive effects for his employees.

More people started to take interest in Daitoku, and the company has signed up new customers who experienced the "Chi no Ito" haunted house.

Kobatake plans to renew the attraction every year, saying: "We'll make it scarier and scarier. Pursuing is important. It's the same with work."

"Chi no Ito" is open once a week, usually on Fridays. Visitors are required to register on the company's website (https://www.printdap.jp/) in advance.