The word kokkuri refers to the game, the actual physical apparatus, and the spirit(s) believed to possess the apparatus in order to communicate with humans. The physical mechanism is composed of three bamboo rods arranged to make a tripod, upon which is placed a small pot, which is covered by a cloth. Three or more people will place their hands upon the kokkuri and ask the spirits a question, which that spirit will in theory answer by moving the pot or remaining still.
Japanese folklorist Inoue Enryō wrote about the kokkuri phenomenon, denouncing it as mere superstition, yet his efforts did not succeed in depopularizing the game. Some scientific figures of the age attempted to explain the phenomena with the more scientific sounding yet ultimately equally mysterious trope "human electricity".