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Yonaki ishi


Translation: night-crying stone

Appearance: Yonaki ishi are stones or boulders which cry loudly at night. In many cases, the stones cry because they are possessed by the spirit of someone who was murdered and seeks revenge. However, in some cases it is the stone itself that cries and not a person’s spirit haunting it. The most famous yonaki ishi comes from Kakegawa City in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Legends: Long ago, a pregnant woman was walking home through the steep mountains. She had reached the Sayo no Nakayama Pass when she needed to stop for a rest. She leaned against a large round boulder to catch her breath, but suddenly a bandit appeared. He slashed at her with his blade, and would have cut all the way through her if the sword hadn’t also struck the large boulder she was leaning against. The bandit grabbed her purse and fled into the night. The wound was a fatal one—the woman bled to death.

Thanks to the blade striking the rock, her baby was not hurt by the attack. It emerged from her body through the stab wound. Although the mother was dead, her soul was so driven by the need to protect her child that it got stuck in the boulder. From then on, every night the rock would wail and cry loudly. This yonaki ishi became known as one of the “Seven Wonders of Shizuoka.”

A priest from a nearby temple heard the crying. When he went to investigate, he discovered the newborn baby lying beside the boulder. The priest took the baby to his temple and raised him, naming him Otohachi. When Otohachi grew up he was apprenticed to a sword sharpener. After many years he became an accomplish sword sharpener as well.

One day, a samurai appeared before Otohachi and commanded him to repair his chipped katana. Otohachi was surprised by the terrible crack in the blade. The samurai casually explained that the blade had been chipped many years before when he struck a stone in the Sayo no Nakayama Pass. Otohachi realized that this samurai was the bandit who murdered his mother. Otohachi stood up, gave his name, and then took his revenge.

Alphabetical list of yōkai