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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tomino's Hell - The Poem That Will Kill You

I'm reading Dracula by Bram Stoker right now—I've read it before but as a kid, and I fear that while I got the gist of the horror, I didn't full appreciate it as much I do now as an adult, as I watch how the plot carefully unfolds in dribs and drabs to build suspense. You can see how so many movies attempt to build suspense in much the same way that Stoker did in this classic novel, that is so much more than a cliche horror story that is written nowadays.

Anyhow, within the novel, someone mentions the "passion masks of Japan" - and I went, "What?!"... but further searching for a reference point only led me back to the Noh masks, and how each of the main five or so masks worn by the actor conveys their entire personality for the entire story.

Then I thought I would search and see if Japan ever had a vampire mythos... but, even though the rest of the world appears to have one, Japan did not. In fact, the vampire as a horror element was largely unheard of to the writhing masses of Japan until the 1950s when movies of that ilk dared to curdle the blood.

Interesting... so I assume the closed door immigration policy of Japan helped the country foster its own monsters.

I know there are a plethora of spirit creatures like the Kappa (click HERE) or ghosts and demons (click HERE), and of course there's all those classic vengeful high school girl demon monsters coming out of the well or barfing water...

I'm not going to list all of the horrors, but I shall at least start somewhere.

Let's visit Tomino no Jigoku (Tomino's Hell, トミノの地獄)... a poem so dangerous that when read the reader will die horribly. Of course, the story goes that the reader could also get badly hurt. Well, which is it? Death is more horrific. Let's hope it's death.

I'll present first in Japanese, and then English:

Tomino no Jigoku

Ane wa chi wo haku, imoto wa hihaku,

可愛いトミノは 宝玉(たま)を吐く。
kawaii tomino wa tama wo haku.

hitori jihoku ni ochiyuku tomino,

jigoku kurayami hana mo naki.

muchi de tataku wa tomino no aneka,

鞭の朱総(しゅぶさ)が 気にかかる。
muchi no shubusa ga ki ni kakaru.

tatake yatataki yare tataka zutotemo,

mugen jigoku wa hitotsu michi.

kurai jigoku e anai wo tanomu,

kane no hitsu ni, uguisu ni.

kawa no fukuro ni yaikura hodoireyo,

mugen jigoku no tabishitaku.

春が 来て候(そろ)林に谿(たに)に、
haru ga kitesoru hayashi ni tani ni,

kurai jigoku tanina namagari.

kagoni yauguisu, kuruma ni yahitsuji,

kawaii tomino no me niya namida.

nakeyo, uguisu, hayashi no ame ni

妹恋しと 声かぎり。
imouto koishi to koe ga giri.

nakeba kodama ga jigoku ni hibiki,

kitsunebotan no hana ga saku.

jigoku nanayama nanatani meguru,

kawaii tomino no hitoritabi.

地獄ござらばもて 来てたもれ、
jigoku gozarabamo de kitetamore,

hari no oyama no tomebari wo.

akai tomehari date niwa sasanu,

kawaii tomino no mejirushini.

English translation:

His older sister vomited blood, his younger sister vomited fire,
And the cute Tomino vomited glass beads.
Tomino fell into Hell alone,

Hell is wrapped in darkness and even the flowers don’t bloom.
Is the person with the whip Tomino’s older sister,
The whipping is worrisome.

Hit, hit, without hitting,
Familiar Hell’s one road.
Would you lead him to the dark Hell,

To the sheep of gold, to the bush warbler (nightingale).
I wonder how much he put into the sac of skin
For the preparation of the journey to the infernal Hell.

Spring is coming even in the forest and the steam,
Even in the steam of the dark Hell.
The nightingale in the basket, the sheep in the wagon,

Tears in the eyes of cute Tomino.
Cry, nightingale, toward the raining forest
He shouts that he misses his little sister.

The crying echo reverberates throughout Hell,
The fox peony blooms.
Circling around Hell’s seven mountains and seven streams,

The lonely journey of cute Tomino.
If they’re in Hell bring them to me,
The needle of the graves.

I won’t pierce with the red needle,
In the milestones of little Tomino.

Me again... the poem is mercifully over.

Hopefully the English version loses lots in the translation, because it sucks. Sucks donkeys.

Anyhow, to be safe, you should probably only read this in your head and not out loud... er... so I probably should have mentioned that first. Sorry. My bad.

From what I can gather, Tomino is a young, handicapable kid who after writing this creepy poem was punished by his fearful parents by having him locked in their basement... refusing to feed him until he died... which is why his evil kami (spirit) sort of haunts the words of his poem, Tomino's Hell.

Hunh... the poem does have the feel of a kid unfamiliar with good poetry.

Anyhow... how old is this legend... this poem? From what I've found, it was used or written into a book by Japanese author Yomota Inuhiko (四方田 犬彦) in a book called “The Heart is Like a Rolling Stone” (心は転がる石のように), and was included in Saizo Yaso’s (西條 八十) 27th collection of poems in 1919... but he did not write it. Or maybe he did. Yaso was a poet and even founded a magazine called Shijin (Poets) in 1915.

So... urban legend or real life curse? How about someone reads this and in about two weeks time you write back and let me know if you are alive - or if you don't write back, we can assume you are dead and may Tomino have mercy on your tortured soul.

See you on the Highway to Hell (been there, bought the album new when it came out),
Andrew Joseph
PS: Yup... that's a self-portrait of myself (a skinnier me) barfing blood - and a carrot! Where did that come from? Stomach lining? Ugh.


  1. I read it aloud (゚Д゚≡゚Д゚)

    1. Ha-ha! Heck... I had to write it out!
      See you in Hell! LOL!

    2. And you posted it at midnight! Some steel cojones you have there!

    3. I figured - Japanese poem - Japanese Hell for the Japanese! And... even if I did die and go to Japanese Hell, once a year for three days I get to come back and have rice crackers and sake. Win!

    4. Um... .w.
      If you have guts to read this, you won't die.. .w.
      ((Even I don't believe this .-. )) Oh well~

    5. Wait...So should I read it? Even known I'm not suppose to?

    6. Watch "ImJaystation" do it on YouTube. Literally ghosts can be seen trying to get him from a wall

    7. Watch Imjaystation do it on YouTube. He read it out loud and ghosts tried to get him from his walls

  2. well,, i did get visited but hes a nice dude, we drunk some beers and went clubbing. wich was a bad idea cause they dont like ghosts in the clubs, mean bastards. so we just went home and watched pokemon the movie

    1. Oh my god! Which Pokemon movie? I've heard that if you watch the VERY first one after drinking beers you might get the beer farts in the morning! It's even worse if you drink a dark beer! We're talking stains! Oh! The horror! ... The horror.

    2. Lol,he's an evil spirit you know head

  3. Here's a fresh, new translation you might enjoy:

    1. Not bad David, I, of course, did not read all of it... you know... just in case... but still, thanks for sharing!

  4. I read it out loud
    I am fine
    just threw up a little blood, that's normal right?

  5. I wouldn't read that stuff

  6. one day god will seriously get mad and punish your stupid actions. looking up this stuff makes you apart from hell stupids luckily lations do not read these stuff

    1. your right mamacita us lations sure don't look up this stupid stuff

    2. HaileyPhillips1996 - why are you the smartest one here?
      Everything loses that ... how do you say it? ... oh yeah... je ne sais quoi when translating from one language to another... it always loses 'power'.

  7. I like story very much. Of course i read it to myself just incase. I never read things like this outloud. Anyways....this is a good story that im thinking of using it on a page i made on Facebook. Im just hoping that if i start using these kind of stories people will want to post something of there own. Thank you Andrew of giving me a story to post.

    1. You are very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to write and say what you said!
      What, by the way, do you mean by 'these kind of stories'? Horror? Japanese horror? Urban Legends?
      I'm curious! Good luck to you!

  8. i wish this is true because i wanted to kill myself, i wish this will kill me because i wanted to freaking kill myself.

    1. Hi... while I will not pretend to understand your pain, I will say that as someone who cares - even if we've never met - that you need to please contact a family member, a friend or a professional - whether it's over the phone or in person, and discuss the feelings you shared here.
      I have no idea if this is the only life we'll ever have, but I do believe that each of us is here for a purpose.
      Your purpose is NOT to kill your self. I am sure there are plenty of reasons for you not to - even if you don't know what they are.
      Please - contact a suicide prevention group... don't be afraid to ask for help. Plenty of people want to and will help you.

    2. Are you getting better? I sure hope so.

  9. i met the fuckin bad luck!!!!

  10. So I have an English essay due at the end of this week and it is about poems and how they are composed and other junk like that. I personally hate the subject so I thought why not be slightly deranged with my essay and use Tomino's Hell as my related text. Any thoughts guys?

    1. The only issue I could think of regarding that, is that despite the translations provided here, this WAS originally written in Japanese... so it's TRUE feelings of horror and maybe even a bit of the meaning is lost.
      It sounds stupid when you read it in English... it's like a 'magic' spell... if you don't use the exact words, it loses its potency.
      Just keep that in mind.
      Other cool poems - Mighty Casey At The Bat - think about how popular baseball had become at the turn of the last century.
      Or... how about Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, or the other one - Twas the Night Before Christmas... that poem helped define HOW Santa Claus is viewed in poplar fiction - the whole physical description. That plus Coke advertising helped...
      Cheers - You have two days!

  11. Probably received the best essay result all year using this poem. My teacher looked up the David Bowles English translation as that was the one I referenced along with the original of course, she said it was quite dark on first thought but when revised was beautifully symbolic. She also said she loved it even more because she was teaching a grade 9 class about the origins of certain fairy tales and how horrible most of them really are. Confused at my result and happy to say no-one died....yet :O

    1. I'm very happy for you. Your write-up must have been done very well! Congrats!

    2. this is not true.. im still alive.. :3 i red this in japanese and english version. nothing happened..

  12. This poem speaks my life... I honestly wish it was a real death sentence... Or should I say, death poem *dum dum tiss*

  13. Not bad for some Halloween scare 😂😱😨

    1. I just want to know if you came up your "moniker" or if it was given to you. Still... did you REALLY find it scary? I bet it would be more scary in the original Japanese.
      Regardless CA, Happy Halloween!

  14. Can anyone provide citation of this poem?

    1. Hi - When I wrote this blog in 2014, I scanned the Internet for as much information as possible. It is vague.
      What I wrote above (and again below) does show POSSIBLE citation:
      "Anyhow... how old is this legend... this poem? From what I've found, it was used or written into a book by Japanese author Yomota Inuhiko (四方田 犬彦) in a book called “The Heart is Like a Rolling Stone” (心は転がる石のように), and was included in Saizo Yaso’s (西條 八十) 27th collection of poems in 1919... but he did not write it. Or maybe he did. Yaso was a poet and even founded a magazine called Shijin (Poets) in 1915. "
      Other than that... sorry. If you find out more facts, please let me know.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Lorett, stop picking your nose, get a humidifier, get some Vitamin C in you and hope the allergies or cold or flu passes.
      If symptoms continue, contact your family doctor. not the one in Hell, but the one that works nearby. I read this two years ago... hells, I wrote it out didn't I? If I am in Hell right now, it ain't so bad.

  16. I read it out loud..
    N i m not good..
    I saw tomino just now..
    He wants to have a cup of tea with me..
    Can u plz write how to get rid of it?😂😂

  17. I read it out loud..
    N i m not good..
    I saw tomino just now..
    He wants to have a cup of tea with me..
    Can u plz write how to get rid of it?😂😂

    1. I did not read all of it outloud. Just the beginning. Am I okay? I get so much anxiety over these things. I should not have done it. Ugh, I might not sleep. Please someone who has read it out loud tell me it is okay.

    2. My dear Tia. You are fine. You will be fine.
      Compartmentalize your anxiety... put it away. This poem has nothing to do with you. :)

  18. Well Andrew, it's good to see you're still alive and well, commenting in 2017

    1. Hey - I just wrote about it... I didn't read the poem! But thanks... somewhat alive and mostly well!

  19. This is stuff I live for to find facts and look up all information about it I do it a lot with legends everywhere in the world. But as I was told it's how much you believe in some thing is how your body reacts to this kind of stuff cause our minds love to play games with us. But on the other note very interesting and yes scary and a tint of creepy. Love it nice article!

    1. Well said! While I want to believe in the Supernatural X-Files stuff, I do need proof... I do think the mind has a way of making fantasy into reality sometimes (depending on the person).

  20. Hey.. Should I read the poem? It told me not to, but I have so much fear of bad things happening right now, so should I do it?

    1. Go for it... what's the worst that could happen... oh, wait... never mind.
      The trick is to realize that if only something bad can happen from reading it, and there's nothing good to come from reading, what's the point? Unless you don;t believe in such stuff.
      While I have not died after reading the ENGLISH, I can only assume it works if you read the original Japanese... or maybe not. Try it and let me know.

    2. Andrew so you said you read the English right? Well did anything happen? Out of the ordinary? Did you get hurt? I know something bad will happen, I just don't know what. And I don't want it to do anything with my family.

    3. If you are even slightly afraid to read it, why bother. There are no bonus points for reading it. What good comes from reading it? Nothing.
      Did anything happen to me? Well... no... but nothing good has happened either.
      Let's play it safe Sophia... don't read it. I only assumed I read the English as I wrote it out...

    4. Ok then, I might read it when its not midnight and I'm maybe with a friend, then I wont be so scared... by the way....I don't know how to read Japanese, I like anime but they invented subtitles for a reason.

    5. Actually Sophia... I am recommending you DON'T read it.
      I hear ya regarding subtitles! I have lousy Japanese language abilities.

    6. Fine, I wont read it. Just an idea....

    7. I'd prefer to keep my smart readers safe.

  21. As everyone described, the poem itself poses dangerous malice. It is full of wrath and you can feel the peom's emotion seeping out whilst reading it. Though I didn't and wouldn't dare read it I think this is just placebo effect. :p
    And if you have anxiety disorder it would be best if you don't read it as it will only feed you anxious thoughts and make you paranoid.

  22. I read the poem outloud in my science class, immediatly i felt my heart being stabbed, my legs going numb, and my piercing pain in the back of my neck. Can you get rid of the curse anyway? I feel so flushed...

  23. I read the poem in my science class, immediatly my heart started to hurt, my leg went numb, and i felt a piercing pain in the nape of my neck, also my stomach. Is there anyway to get rid of this curse? I feel so flushed...My name is Larissa Webb.

  24. You were warned! Now your base are belong to us. >;)-

  25. C'mon! I really need help! IS THERE A WAY??? i think i might become ill and die...

    1. littleangel... I wrote it out, edited it, and read it... while life sucks because it's...well, life... it's been over four years... and unless I'm a zombie and don't know it, I'm okay. So, at worst, you have four more years... get back to paying attention to Science and stop messing with my blog... though thank-you very much for reading. Read something else in it... there's butt-loads of stuff more interesting... check out the list on Japanese serial killers if you have a dark edge... or look for a story on types of Coca-Cola, Fanta, Pepsi, Kit-Kats... or look up stuff on ghost stories and such. No need to tempt fate by messing with forces beyond our control. But like I said littleangel... it's been four years, and I am Bllllrggghfi9jhg!$#Q@$H...