Wonderfully Odd Japanese Museum Full of Rock Faces

If you happen to be in the Tokyo area and want to make the two hour trip north west to the city of Chichibu, you might consider visiting the obscure little museum that is housing over 1700 rocks.

But these aren’t just any old rocks. A large amount of them resemble human faces to varying degrees, called jinmenseki. The museum’s founder Shozo Hayama, who passed away in 2010, collected rocks for over fifty years. 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. The museum is called Chinsekikan, a.k.a. the hall of curious rocks. The stones accumulated here offer a wide range of expression of the human emotion. Some of the rocks seem to be sad, while others seem to be overjoyed with glee. Each rock seems to have their own character and part of the fun of visiting the museum is figuring out their personalities.

These days, the founder’s daughter Yoshiko Hayama keeps the museum running, and it has been featured on popular, nationwide Japanese TV programs. No wonder, because this is a rather unusual collection.

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