1000-Year Old Boulder Demon Released!

image via sorannews24

After the last few years we’ve had, is it any great shock that a 1000 year old boulder imprisoning a demon has cracked in half, terrifying everyone? The news was announced earlier this year via several Japanese Twitter communities who reported that an enormous volcanic boulder (known as a ‘killing stone) in Tochigi prefecture near Tokyo had split in two, unleashing unknown hells upon the world. The area, renowned for its natural, sulphurous hot springs has become a point of particular interest in the last month, with many superstitious individuals waiting for the demon’s arrival.

According to legend, the boulder imprisoned an ancient demon that was released as soon as the stone broke. To add insult to injury, anyone who touches the rock is thought to die, either through a curse or due to poisonous gas emitted by the stone.

The stone is known as ‘Sessho-seki’, meaning ‘killing stone’ and is believed to contain the body of Tamamo-no-Mae, a beautiful woman who conspired to kill Emperor Toba (who reigned from 1107-1123), by joining forces with a feudal warlord. This 12th century plot was thwarted when a warrior killed her while she was inhabiting her true form – that of a nine-tailed fox. At death, her corpse was transformed into that of the Sessho-seki, and all was well. Until now.

Some legends record that the stone was destroyed and its spirit ‘exorcised by a Buddhist monk who scattered its pieces across Japan’[1], but many still believe the cursed boulder lies at the foot of Mount Nasu.

Twitter user @Lily0727K was the first to report seeing the rock split in half who tweeted on 5th March that (according to the translation) “I came alone to Sesshokseki, where the legend of the nine-tailed fox remains. The big rock in the middle wrapped around with a rope is that…It was supposed to be, but the rock was split in half and the rope was also detached…I feel like I’ve seen something that shouldn’t be seen.” The tweet went viral, garnering over 185 retweets at the time of writing. 

After a few online searches, the user was able to deduce that the crack occurred within two days of her visit, but that none of the other surrounding rocks had been broken. Other twitter users rallied around the nine-tailed fox demon concept, hoping for some mythological uprising to break the grim monotony of their lives; “Man, imagine of all mythologies and religion, Japan was right all along. I’m unironically all for this and want to see where this goes cause I am tired of mundane life and want magical/supernatural stuff to happen.”[2]

Tamamo-no-mae is confronted by a warrior as she turned into an evil fox with nine tails in this woodblock art by Yashima Gakutei.

The legend of the Sessho-seki is well established in Japanese mythology, with the stone becoming a recognised national site of historical importance back in 1957. In popular culture, the rock captured generations of imaginations inspiring a play, novel and a feature length animated film. When local authorities and park workers went to inspect the stone, they established that no nefarious activities had occurred and that the rock had split naturally due to weakness created by rainwater entering smaller cracks. Local guide Masaharu Sugawara dismissed overt supernatural conclusions and commented that the breakage “can’t be helped, but it’s a shame because it’s a symbol of the local area”. Government officials on a local and national level are due to meet to discuss the future of the demon rock, with many calling to have it repaired, with the demon presumably back inside.

I can’t say I’m overly keen to believe that a multi-tailed-evil-fox-demon-woman is on the loose, but nowadays, truly nothing would surprise me.

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References:

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/07/japans-killing-stone-splits-in-two-releasing-superstitions-and-toxic-gases

[2]https://scoop.upworthy.com/1-000-yr-old-boulder-in-japan-believed-to-imprison-demon-just-split-in-half-freaking-everyone-out

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