Discover the Japanese Museum Dedicated to Collecting Rocks That Look Like Human Faces

It says some­thing about the human brain that we so often see the shape of human faces in inan­i­mate things — and that we feel such amuse­ment and even delight about it when we do. If you don’t believe it, just ask the 618,000 fol­low­ers of the Twit­ter account Faces in Things, which posts images of noth­ing else. Or go to Chichibu, Japan, two hours north­west of Tokyo, where you’ll find the Chin­sekikan, a small muse­um that has col­lect­ed over 1,700 “curi­ous rocks,” all 100 per­cent organ­i­cal­ly formed, about a thou­sand of which resem­ble human faces, some­times even famous ones.

“The museum’s founder, who passed away in 2010, col­lect­ed rocks for over fifty years,” writes Kotaku’s Bri­an Ashcraft. “Ini­tial­ly, he was drawn to rare rocks, but that evolved into col­lect­ing, well, strange rocks — espe­cial­ly unal­tered rocks that nat­u­ral­ly resem­ble celebri­ties, reli­gious fig­ures, movie char­ac­ters, and more.

These days, the founder’s daugh­ter keeps the muse­um run­ning, and it has been fea­tured on pop­u­lar, nation­wide Japan­ese TV pro­grams.” It has also, more recent­ly, become a sub­ject of CNN’s inter­net video series Great Big Sto­ry, which high­lights inter­est­ing peo­ple and places all around the world.

The Chin­sekikan stands in walk­ing dis­tance of a local riv­er rich with rocks, where we see the muse­um’s pro­pri­etor Yoshiko Haya­ma per­form­ing one of her rou­tine search­es for wee faces star­ing back at her. “To find rocks, we walk step-by-step,” she says. “If we walk too fast, we won’t find them.” She explains that a prop­er jin­mense­ki, or face-shaped stone, needs at least eyes and a mouth, rea­son­ably well-aligned, with a nose being a rare bonus. Only decades of adher­ence to these stan­dards, and hunt­ing with such delib­er­ate­ness, can yield such prize spec­i­mens as a rock that looks like Elvis Pres­ley, a rock that looks (vague­ly) like John­ny Depp, and a rock that looks like Don­ald Trump — though that one does ben­e­fit from what looks like a pile of thread on top, of a col­or best described as not found in nature.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Philo­soph­i­cal Appre­ci­a­tion of Rocks in Chi­na & Japan: A Short Intro­duc­tion to an Ancient Tra­di­tion

Wabi-Sabi: A Short Film on the Beau­ty of Tra­di­tion­al Japan

How to Draw the Human Face & Head: A Free 3‑Hour Tuto­r­i­al

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • R.M. de Jonge says:

    Chichibu, Saita­ma, Japan, is locat­ed at 36 degrees N and 109 degrees E of the Riv­er Nile, Egypt. The Site appears to be found­ed as a mon­u­ment for the Comet Cat­a­stro­phe, or Flood, of c.2344 BC. Its lat­i­tude, at 36 degrees N, refers to the cir­cum­fer­ence of the Earth of 360 degrees. It shows it was a world­wide Dis­as­ter. It is locat­ed 36–30= 6 degrees above the island of Zhoushan, Chi­na, as well as the Nile Delta (at 30 degrees N), encod­ing the Sixth Dynasty, when it occurred. It is locat­ed 360+251= c.610 degrees W of the Nile, encod­ing the 1st king Teti of the Sixth Dynasty, when it hap­pened (600+10= 610). — - — Zhoushan, Chi­na, at 30 degrees N, encodes the 30 days of the month. The merid­i­an of the Site leaves the NW Coast of Japan, 38–36= 2 above the Site, which shows it was a two-stage-event. Each stage last­ed for 2 months. The near­est main lat­i­tude at 40 degrees N, 40–36= 4 degrees above the Site, shows it last­ed for 2+2= 4 months. — - — At this lev­el the West Coast of North Amer­i­ca is locat­ed 208–109= c.100 degrees of lon­gi­tude to the East. The remain­ing angle of 360–100= 260 degrees encodes the 2.6 mil­lion casu­al­ties. The merid­i­an of the Site leaves the North Coast of Rus­sia at c.70 degrees N, which illus­trates the 7 fig­ures of the num­ber. The South Cape of the Island of Oki­nawa, at 26 degrees N, con­firms the 2.6 mil­lion vic­tims. It is locat­ed 33–26= 7 degrees below the island of Cheju, South Korea, con­firm­ing the 7 fig­ures of the num­ber. The merid­i­an leaves the North Coast of West Rus­sia near the Sea of Ochot­sk, at the com­ple­men­tary lat­i­tude of 90–36= 54 degrees N, encod­ing the per­cent­age of vic­tims, 54%. In antiq­ui­ty the use of com­ple­men­tary lat­i­tudes was very com­mon. — - — The South Cape of the Island of Tai­wan is locat­ed at 22 degrees N, con­firm­ing the 2.2 mil­lion sur­vivors, most of them seri­ous­ly wound­ed. The South Cape of the Island of Sachalin, Rus­sia, at 46 degrees N, con­firms the per­cent­age of sur­vivors, 100–54= 46%. — - — The merid­i­an leaves the NW Coast of Japan, 38–30= 8 degrees above Zhoushan, Chi­na, encod­ing the pre­cip­i­ta­tion dur­ing the Flood of 80 micro­moiras= 80x0.11= c.9.0 meters of Water (1 moira= 1 degree= 111 km). — - — Chichibu, Japan, is locat­ed c.110 degrees E of the Riv­er Nile, encod­ing a prob­a­ble date of the Site in the Eleventh Dynasty, Mid­dle King­dom, c.2100 BC. The Island of Oki­nawa is locat­ed 109–98= 11 degrees west of the Site, con­firm­ing it. [World­wide Flood Sto­ry© R.M. de Jonge, Nether­lands]

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