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,
kawaii tomino wa tama wo haku.
hitori jihoku ni ochiyuku tomino,
jigoku kurayami hana mo naki.
muchi de tataku wa tomino no aneka,
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.
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
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.
jigoku gozarabamo de kitetamore,
hari no oyama no tomebari wo.
akai tomehari date niwa sasanu,
kawaii tomino no mejirushini.
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),
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.