Hell money spotted in claw machine during Ghost Month spooks Taiwanese

Taiwanese startled by hell money placed in claw machine game during Ghost Month

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Joss paper in claw machine. (Photo from Facebook group 爆怨公社)

Joss paper in claw machine. (Photo from Facebook group 爆怨公社)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As Ghost Month is well underway in Taiwan, a photo of claw machine game stuff with joss paper (金紙) has many superstitious Taiwanese netizens spooked as many fear it could lead to a ghoulish gaffe.

On Tuesday (Aug. 6), a member of the Taiwanese Facebook group Baoyuan Commune (爆怨公社) posted a photo of a crane game filled with stacks of joss paper, which is used for worship and offerings to the spirit world, especially during Ghost Month. Taiwan's Ghost Month (鬼月) is observed in the 7th month of the lunar calendar and this year runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 29.

Taiwan's Ghost Month is when Taoists and Buddhists believe that the gates of hell are opened for "hungry ghosts" to roam the world of the living in search of food, money, entertainment, and possibly souls. A "hungry ghost" is a being that has been sent to the underworld to suffer an eternal state of hunger for their misdeeds or for not having a proper burial.

Joss paper, also known as ghost money or hell money, are sheets of paper designed to serve as money for deceased relatives and ancestors of the person who burns it. Joss paper is burned at funerals and important dates on the lunar calendar to make sure the deceased are well taken care of in the afterlife.


Stacks of joss paper found in claw machine. (Photo from Facebook group 爆怨公社)

In the Facebook post, the author asked, "Excuse me, once these are grabbed who will burn this for whom? These [machines] really have everything you can imagine. The point is you can't grab them. As soon as you manage to pick one up, it will fall back down!"

The terms "Good Brothers" (好兄弟) and "Good Sisters" (好姐妹) are considered the preferable names to use when referring to lost souls, as opposed to "ghosts," to avoid offending them. These apparitions are not worshiped by anyone as ancestors and can vary from pitiful to dangerous.


Screenshot from Baoyuan Commune.

As soon as the photo was posted, a flood of comments from netizens surged in:

"Cool! Taiwanese [claw machine] owners are very creative."

"Is this for Good Brothers?"

"July in the lunar calendar is a good month for Good Brothers, but not for ordinary people."

"Special machine for Ghost Month."

"Just go ahead and make the machine a joss paper furnace."

"If you look at it at 3 a.m., you'll see it moving by itself."

"That's a big wad of cash. It's a good deal if you can grab it for just NT$10."

"Later, the customer will see that it is real cash."

"Come in at midnight and tell the Good Brothers that you want to pick up the money for them. You'll definitely be able to grab it."