The Museum That Displays Charming Stone Faces

28LabPublished: November 13, 2017Updated: November 14, 2017
Published: November 13, 2017Updated: November 14, 2017

They say that you can meet Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy in Saitama Prefecture’s Chichibu City, two hours northwest of Tokyo, Japan. The Chichibu Museum of Rare Stones exhibits many unusual rocks, including a popular display of more than 700 that resemble people’s faces. Almost all of them has a name, with some of them resembling popular Japanese entertainers, anime characters, and even Elvis Presley and the like. Each one captures their characteristics really well. The Japanese have even invented a term that is applied to stones that resemble human facial features – “jinmenseki”.

The rocks were all gathered over a 50 year period by the museum’s first director, Mr. Shoji Hayama, at the nearby Arakawa River. The current director is his wife, Ms. Yoshiko Hayama, She was formerly the chief curator of the Museum of Rare Stones and she took over the position held by her husband who passed away in 2010 – a family tradition literally set in stone. Ms. Hayama said that the museum, which opened its doors 27 years ago, was like an extension of her husband, as she explained the stones’ various characteristics. An avid collector, the late Shozo Hayama spent 50 years collecting rocks that looked like faces. His only requirement was that nature is the only artist. It seems she has truly inherited Mr. Hayama’s passion for the stones.

There is, at the moment, such a large number of rocks on display that some do not even have names. Therefore, the owner is known to sometimes invite visitors to give names for rocks.

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