Amiah Taylor

Published:March 18, 2022



A slab of volcanic rock which split in two this month at the Nikko National Park in Japan is sparking an international debate, according to a recent New York Times story.

The piece of volcanic rock had long been associated with a Japanese folktale in which an evil fox spirit haunts a “killing stone,” or Sessho-seki in Japanese, making it lethal to humans who dare to approach.

The stone contained a creature named Tamamo-no-Mae, a malicious nine-tailed fox spirit who could change into an alluring woman and after an assassination attempt on the emperor, her spirit was trapped within the Sessho-seki stone, according to Japanese mythology.

The volcanic boulder became a registered historical landmark in 1957 and was a popular sightseeing destination, according to The Guardian.

Now that the rock was reported split in March, some are speculating that the spirit of the fox demoness Tamamo-no-Mae has been resurrected after almost 1,000 years.

However, another explanation is that cracks had appeared in the rock several years ago, possibly allowing rainwater to seep inside and weaken its structure.

It is unknown whether the fracture set the female fox spirit loose to cause further harm but all hope is not lost. In a recent Facebook post, a tourism association in the Nikko area claimed the stone’s fracturing was an “auspicious foretoken,” and that the nine-tailed fox spirit might “tame the coronavirus and the current world situation,” as reported by The New York Times.

In a time where war wages on and financial markets fluctuate, maybe Tamamo-no-Mae is the nine-tailed hero we didn’t know that we needed.

Japanese culture has always been a subject of fascination for different communities across the globe, including Canadian artists and NFT creators who use Tokyo-style aesthetics in their digital art, or American gamers who have brand loyalty to Nintendo.

This is yet another example of Japanese culture being a source of a never ending source of Western interest.