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“So I’m sure, when that Jizo’s face is finished…I think it will be…”

Behind the tree in the mountain, there were many Jizo statues lined up. Ones on the left side, their faces were carved. But the other ones on the right side didn’t have faces carved at all.

But wait, is it the same number of faces done since the last time?

Today, I’m gonna share the mysterious Kaidan story about a mountain, which is from Junpei Azumi.

Jizo with No Face (Japan Makes Me Scared Podcast)

Scary & Horror Story of the Kaidan (transcription)


This story is originally from Junpei Azumi. He is a writer and an experienced mountain climber. He shares a bunch of Kaidan stories, especially about Mountains. 

He heard this story from one of his mountain friends. For convenience, I will describe “I” as Junpei Azumi.

Mountain Friends

One day, one of my mountain friends, Katsumori, came to visit me. He looked a bit tense and said he wanted to share his experience in a mountain.

He had two of his mountain buddies, Tanaka and Yamamoto. I actually know a little bit about them, too.

They were the kind of guys who climbed famous mountains even overseas.  So I can say they were a lot higher level mountain climber than I am. 

There was a mountain that I often go. This mountain is not a difficult one, it’s more like a place for light hiking. Three of them don’t usually go to this kind of easy mountain, but they decided to go there just for fun once.

So when they were climbing, the weather was nice. The air was fresh and felt so good, and they were talking about how nice it is to hike in this kind of mountain sometimes.

On the way up one of the trails, on the left side, there was a big old tree that was probably hundreds of years old. It stood out because the tree was curving in a strange way.

And there…Yamamoto said he had to do some business. Behind the tree, there was a bush. So he went there to do that.

3 or 4 minutes later, he came back with a face looking a little bit confused. So the other two asked him like, ‘Hey, what did you find behind the tree?’

But Yamamoto just said, “You can follow me and have a look by yourself.” They went to the bush all together.

Jizo Statues

There were many Jizo (地蔵) statues lined up. Jizo is a Buddhist statue made of stone, usually enshrined for protection and longevity, and commonly seen everywhere in Japan, including cities and mountains.

Jizo statues behind the tree were not that big, like about 50 cm high.

When they first saw it, they thought it was kind of majestic, but they soon noticed something strange.

Jizo statues on the left side, their faces were carved. But the ones on the right side didn’t have faces carved at all and looked flat.

It’s not that they were old and had been weathered by time. It seemed more like those Jizo had no trace of being carved from the beginning.

Another thing is that even the Jizo that had faces. They looked so realistic that they looked like actual humans.

Katsumori, Tanaka, and Yamamoto found it kind of creepy. But they didn’t wanna stay there forever; they needed to finish hiking.

So, then, the three of them prayed with hands to the Jizo and returned to climbing up the mountain. In the end, the day was a successful hiking, and everyone eventually split up with a happy feeling.

Sudden tragedy, and the face…

But a few weeks later… Yamamoto went to a mountain alone in winter. And he slipped and died.

It’s not unusual for people to go to the mountains alone in wintertime. You know, there is a higher risk of an accident, and Yamamoto also knew that as an advanced mountain climber.

So, in a group of three, one usually calls the other two to go climbing together. It was their routine.

But at that time, Yamamoto didn’t call anyone. And then he slided off and died.

So Katsumori and Tanaka said, “Why did he go there without saying anything?”

In the end, the mountain they went hiking was the last they went to together. They were a little sad about that fact.

And a year later, there was a chance where Katsumori and Tanaka got together. It’s been one year since Yamamoto passed away. They talked about doing something to reflect on our memories of him.

So they decided to go to that mountain where the three of them climbed together for the last time.

They went to the mountain. On the way, Tanaka said, “Do you remember that there was a tree with a strange shape and Jizo statues were standing in the bush behind that tree?”

Katsumori replied, “Oh yeah, right. Should we pray to the Jizo this time again?”

They walked up a bit and then found the tree. When they went behind the tree, Jizo statues were standing as they had been last year.

But in a few seconds, Tanaka said, “Are? That’s weird.”

Katsumori said, “What’s wrong?”

Tanaka replied, “There is one more Jizo with the face.”

Actually, they counted how many Jizo had their faces carved last year. Last year, there were 13 faces carved.

But this year, the 14th statue also had a face carved on it.

Well, that kind of thing could happen. That’s what Katumori thought quickly. Maybe a temple should be nearby, and a monk carved a face on Jizo each year for training or something.

That theory almost convinced them, but one strange part remained. The face of the newly carved Jizo. It looked just like Yamamoto’s.

That still made both of them creeped out. So they lightly clasped hands and quit the hiking on that day.

The new face is curved, it means…

Then, a few weeks later…

This time, Tanaka was climbing a mountain, like a simple hiking trail. He had a heart attack and passed away.

Katsumori was deeply sad about losing two friends in a row, but also terrified. A theory was floating around in his head.

If a face is carved on the Jizo there, the person would die. Katsumori couldn’t stand it. So he went back again to the mountain.

And when he went behind the tree, he found a face carved on the 15th one. It looked exactly like Tanaka’s face.

Katsumori told me, “I’m thinking of quitting climbing mountains.”

“You know where that mountain is, right? I wouldn’t say don’t climb the mountain, but don’t go behind the tree.”

So that’s why he visited me that day. I didn’t expect to hear this kind of story. I think I was speechless for like a couple of minutes and didn’t know what to say.

But I just noticed he looked like there’s more to the story.

So I said, “Umm, is that it? Is there anything more you wanna tell me about?”

“Yeah, actually there is one more thing to say.”

Then he continued, “Like I said, I saw a Jizo who looked just like Tanaka. But I also saw a Jizo right next to him.”

“And the carving of the face was like half done, and I could just sort of see the shape of each part of the face.”

“So I’m sure, when that Jizo’s face is finished…I think it will be my face.”

“If I climb the mountain again, I will die in the mountains one day. That’s why I’ve stopped climbing mountains.”

Katsumori said and left my house on that day.


A few weeks later…

At a pedestrian crossing, Katsumori was pulled over by a truck that ran into him accidentally.

Katsumori ran away from the mountain but died in the city.

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