Tōjinbō

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Tōjinbō (東尋坊)
Protected Area
Japan Tojinbo02n4592.jpg
Sandan Rocks and Byobu Rocks
Country Japan
Prefecture Fukui
City Sakai
Coordinates 36°14′17″N 136°07′30″E / 36.238°N 136.125°E / 36.238; 136.125
Place of Scenic Beauty
Natural Monument of Japan
1935
IUCN category IV - Habitat/Species government Area
Tōjinbō is located in Fukui Prefecture
Tōjinbō
Location of Tōjinbō
Tōjinbō is located in Japan
Tōjinbō
Tōjinbō (Japan)

Tōjinbō (東尋坊) is a series of cliffs on the Sea of Japan in Japan. It is located in the Antō part of Mikuni-chō in Sakai, Fukui Prefecture. The cliffs average 30 metres (98 ft) in height and stretch for 1 km (3,281 ft).[1] The area is part of the Echizen-Kaga Kaigan Quasi-National Park.

Formation[edit]

The cliffs' rocks were originally formed 12 to 13 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch due to various volcanic activities, and were created by magma mixing with sedimentary rock to form columnar joints of pyroxene andesite containing Plagioclase crystals, Augite and Enstatite crystals in pentagonal or hexagonal shapes, which has been eroded by the sea.[1] The area received protection by the national government in 1935 as a Natural Monument.

Legends[edit]

One legend has it that a corrupt Buddhist priest from Heisen-ji (平泉寺), a local temple, so enraged the populace that they dragged him from the temple to the sea and, at Tōjinbō, threw him into the sea. His ghost is still said to haunt the area.

An alternate legend says that the name Tōjinbō comes from a dissolute Buddhist monk. According to the legend, a Buddhist monk named Tōjinbō, who was disliked by everyone, fell in love with a beautiful princess named Aya. Tōjinbō was tricked by another admirer of Princess Aya and was pushed off these cliffs. The legend says that ever after that time Tōjinbō's vengeful ghost would go on a rampage around the same time every year at this place, causing strong winds and rain. Some decades later, an itinerant priest took pity on Tōjinbō and held a memorial service for him. After that, the storms ceased.

Suicides[edit]

The historical pillar of Tojinbo (priest-tojinbo)'s house whose name has been given to the landform of Tojinbo from which he was reputedly thrown by followers of the temple for punishment for his misbehavior, in Heisen-ji, Katsuyama, Fukui, Japan

Tōjinbō is also a well-known place in Japan to commit suicide. According to statistics, as many as 25 people commit suicide[2] by jumping off the 70-foot-high cliffs annually, a number which has risen and fallen with Japan's national economic hardships and unemployment rates. In the 2000s, Yukio Shige, a retired police officer, frustrated at having had to fish so many bodies out of the sea and the inaction of local authorities, began patrolling the cliffs for potential jumpers.[3] As of 2015 it was reported that he and the volunteers at the NPO he founded have saved over 500 lives.[4]. Although 14 people committed suicide there in 2016, in the next year, there has been no suicide for months. Yukio Shige says it is partly because many people come there to catch rare creatures of the mobile phone game Pokémon Go[5].

References[edit]