‘Cursed’ Japanese poem allegedly kills people who read it aloud

A Japanese urban legend claims people died after reading the poem Tomino’s Hell aloud. Pic credit: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network/YouTube

A Japanese urban legend links a “cursed” poem with multiple mysterious deaths.

According to the legend, multiple individuals who read the poem Tomino’s Hell aloud to themselves or publicly suffered death or terrible personal catastrophe.

Japanese poet Saijō Yaso wrote Tomino’s Hell

The Japanese poet Saijō Yaso (1892-1970) composed Tomino’s Hell (Japanese: Tomino no Jigoku) and published it in 1919 as part of a collection titled Sakin (Gold Gust).

Yaso was a prolific lyricist and an author of children’s books. He studied English at Tokyo’s Waseda University and French at Sorbonne in Paris.

Tomino’s Hell tells the story of a young man who journeys through the fiery underworld (jigoku) while his sisters support him from the sidelines.

Yaso wrote the poem after the First World War. Some analysts believe that the poet used “hell” as a metaphor for the horrors of war.

An urban legend about a sinister “curse” grew thick around the baleful poem years after Yaso published it.

People warned others that if they read the poem aloud, they would also suffer the protagonist’s fate. Fearful people advised friends and relatives to only read it in their minds and never aloud to avoid suffering the protagonist’s fate.

Sinister poem allegedly killed people who read it

Legend claimed many people died mysteriously after reading Tomino’s Hell aloud.

The alleged victims included the film director Terayama Shuji, who made the 1974 movie Denen ni Shisu (To Die in the Countryside). The poem allegedly inspired Shuji to make the film.

Others claimed that a female university student and a young boy died after reading the poem aloud. The female student allegedly read the poem aloud after her friends told her about the “curse” and dared her.

Some proponents of the “curse” theory claimed that Yaso, who wrote the poem, also died due to the legendary curse.

Yamota Inuhiko popularized the legend in 2004

The urban legend about a deadly curse associated with Tomino’s Hell wasn’t well known until recently.

A Japanese writer, Yomota Inuhiko, popularized it in his 2004 book Kokoro wa Korogaru Ishi no you ni (My Heart is Like a Stone Rolling Around).

In his book, Inuhiko claimed that anyone who read the poem aloud would suffer an inevitable terrible fate. He did not explicitly state that reciter would die, as people later interpreted his warning to mean.

People shared the claim that the “terrible fate” meant death through rumors ascribing the demise of the film director Terayama Shuji to the poem. The rumor mongers ignored that Shuji died nearly a decade after releasing his movie.

Rumors that a young female university student died after reading the poem also gained traction, but no one ever confirmed her identity.

Claims that the poet Yaso also died due to the curse of his creation ignored that he lived to the age of 78, more than five decades after he composed and published it.

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