Jun 18, 2018
About this time last summer, I wrote this about GISHWHES, The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen, relating the information that was known at the time: 2017 was the be the final year of the hunt.
In the time since that post, the powers that be changed their minds. Instead of incorporating the existing hunt into a completely different animal, they chose to spare it, instead adapting the hunt to correspond to an app.
The hunt still exists as it always has -- a week long festival of weirdness around the first week of August (July 28th through August 4th this year) -- but now enthusiasts can find regular challenges for other random prizes in the meantime and start getting teams together earlier, all on the completely free app.
Registration costs around 2000 yen and proceeds in excess of prize fees and running costs go to Random Acts, a charity founded by gish-lord Misha Collins of Supernatural fame.
That blue circle is me.
Another great new addition is the location feature, by which you can use a google-maps-like display to scan the world and find registered gishers in any area. You can even try to chat with them or block them if they are chatting a little too much with you. This feature is one you have to turn on and can turn off if you choose to. Also it is only accurate within about a mile, so it is less useful for those who would abuse it for stalking purposes.
If you do choose to join the whimsical madness, you can select your engagement level (in it to win it or just for fun) and find teammates around you or far away. If you can only get together part of a team, do not fret. The registration ends in mid-July so that people on partial teams can be reorganized into 15 person teams before the start of the hunt. Also, if you manage to find your way into a group of 9 people you want to play with and no more, you can have the team captain limit the number of teammates and accept no further entrants, especially useful if you have a small, tight-knit group.
Even in a more relaxed group of just-for-fun players, the excitement over just doing a few excellent items can be exhilarating. Downloading the absolutely free app also lets you experience some of the kinds of items without having to sign up for the hunt itself. These items are free to play and usually involve some level of problem solving and creativity. Free items so far have included bonding with other gishers at least 100 miles from your location, making a handbag out of noodles and/or rice, and solving online riddles. I especially loved the gishbond challenge as I got to make friends with new and exciting people, as seen above.
This one I am especially proud of.
Personally, I have been surprised to receive a few random messages from people looking for a Japan-based person to be on their team, but I shouldn't be. Inevitably, there is always an item or two on the list for the main hunt that is only or most easily done in Japan. Last year it was visiting Tashirojima Cat Island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi. Before that? Drinking green tea in slow motion on a bullet train. Before that? Climbing Mount Fuji or one of 3 other mountains elsewhere in the world.
So even if you have no friends interested in these sorts of shenanigans, you can join and fairly easily find a team that will be excited to have you if only for your location. If you have a little free time and are looking for a break from normalcy, check out the app and sign up for the hunt. It is likely to be a most excellent time.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.