photo by @Lily0727K (taken March 5, 2022)
Well, this is ominous. The Seshoseki (殺生石) killing stone, said to have sealed the spirit of a vengeful fox demon over 1000 years ago, split in half recently. It’s located in Nasu, Japan near a famous hot springs, and roped off due to dangerous sulphuric fumes, but can be viewed from a distance. Local officials also confirmed the split, noting that a small crack had naturally appeared over the years.
photo by allmlife2007 (taken in 2014)
As legend holds, the fox demon has been around for thousands of years. It’s appeared in China, as well as India and each time it chooses to possess the soul of someone in power, manipulating them and causing all sorts of chaos, terror and misery.
In Japan, the fox demon possessed the spirit of Tamamo-no-mae, a beautiful woman who went on to seduce Emperor Toba (1107 – 1123). However, a famous exorcist by the name of Abe no Yasuchika caught on to the demon’s tricks and sent two warriors to assassinate it. They chased the fox into the region of current-day Nasu where, feeling cornered, it turned itself into a stone and began to emit poisonous gas, killing everything that went near it.
Of course the legend lived on and was the source of fascination for artists throughout the years. Ukiyo-e artists who worked in the 1800s told the story of the fox demon through art. In pop culture it’s also appeared in the manga Naruto, as well as Pokemon.
[UPDATE: December 13, 2022]
A total of 8 wild boar carcasses have been discovered near the site of the killing stone. It’s highly unusual for so many carcasses to be discovered at once and officials are saying the sulphuric fumes are likely to have killed the boars but I think we know who is really responsible *wink wink*.
The fox spirit depicted by Katsushika Hokusai in Sangoku Yōko-den (1807)
The fox spirit depicted by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1849)
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