Surprisingly Spooky! 5 Sightseeing Spots in Tokyo with Mysterious Legends

Japan's capital city of Tokyo is a great metropolis full of high-rise buildings. At the same time, it has many strange legends and numerous spots that are earnestly worshipped. This time, we introduce five spots associated with strange legends.

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1. Taira no Masakado no Kubizuka (Burial Mound of the Severed Head of Taira no Masakado)

This is a spot nestled among the buildings of Otemachi in Chiyoda Ward. At a glance, It appears to be a typical grave, but there has long been various myths surrounding it. For example, when there were plans to destroy the grave to build a government office building, city officials and construction workers were met with misfortune one after another. It is said that this was due to the curse of Taira no Masakado, who is buried there. Masakado was a military commander who was active during the first half of the 10th century and brought the Kanto area under his control through the Taira-no-Masakado Rebellion​. He proclaimed himself the New Emperor against the Emperor in Kyoto and had his own castle built. He died in battle in 940, but continued to be feared as a spirit that causes epidemics. He is considered to be one of Japan's three major vengeful spirits.

1. Taira no Masakado no Kubizuka (Burial Mound of the Severed Head of Taira no Masakado)

2. Kabuto Shrine

Kabuto Shrine is a shrine to the north of the main building of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. It was originally built as a symbol of worship by people working at the stock exchange, and is dedicated to Uka no Mitama no Mikoto, the guardian deity of commerce. Daikoku-sama and Ebisu-sama, both of whom are deities for business, are also worshipped there. It is still considered to be the guardian shrine of the stock market industry. Be sure to note the Kabuto-iwa rock to the left of the shrine. It is a famous rock from which the name Kabuto-cho derives. There is a theory that Taira no Masakado's kabuto (helmet) is buried under this rock.

3. Ubagaike Pond Monument

This is a monument that stands at the old site of a pond in Hanakawado Park near Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. It is known for the Hitotsuya Legend. According to the legend, there was once an old woman and her young daughter who lived around here. The old woman would invite travelers into the house, drop rocks on them and take their valuables. However, one day, she accidentally killed her daughter instead of a traveler. The old lady, racked with guilt, threw herself in the pond. The park also has a monument engraved with the words of the Kabuki play, Sukeroku Yukari no Edo-zakura.

3. Ubagaike Pond Monument

4. Jokan-ji

This is a temple in Minami-Senju and was established in 1655. There is a tragic story associated with this temple. Many prostitutes from Shin-Yoshiwara (a red light district in northern Asakusa) lost their lives during the Great Earthquake of 1855, and were buried at this temple. The temple is also called Nagekomi-dera to express how the bodies were almost thrown in to when they were being buried. Since then, it has been known as a temple that holds services for prostitutes, as a result of which there is a senryu poem referring to the hardship of prostitutes in life, and their burial at Jokan-ji in death.

5. Tateishi-sama

This is a strangely formed rock in Katsushika Ward that is designated as a Cultural Property by the City of Tokyo. It is located within a small shrine in a children's park. It is also called Neari-ishi (rock with roots) because of a saying that the bottom is never uncovered regardless of how far you dig. There is also the saying that when an attempt was made to dig it up, a plague spread. There are also various theories regarding its origin. One is that it was transported from the seashore years ago as material for the stone chamber of an ancient burial mound. Currently, there is only a bit of rock above ground, but it was more than a few dozen centimeters high at one time. The rock is said to have been depleted by people shaving parts of it off to make personal charms.

There are rumors that psychic phenomena can be seen at some of these spots. Be sure to visit them if this piques your interest.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: iizuka

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