HomeNews & LifestyleTomino's Hell...The Cursed Japanese Poem You Shouldn’t Read Out Loud

Tomino’s Hell…The Cursed Japanese Poem You Shouldn’t Read Out Loud

When I first heard of Tomino’s Hell Poem, the first thing I thought of was Candyman.

Similar to Tomino’s Hell, Candyman was a terrifying horror movie. It was also something you said out loud in front of the mirror. Allegedly, if you said his name five times, the murdered slave seeking revenge would appear in the mirror and kill you with his hook.

There were bees. And Candyman was really scary looking and his hook also happened to be attached to the bloody stump of his arm. Very creepy and weird.

Anway, I remember having sleepovers with my friends and we’d watch the movie and then go into the washroom and take turns trying to get to the magical number of five repetitions. I’m not sure any of us made it. We were all superstitious, and frankly we just got too scared.

Tomino’s Hell is similar in that it is notorious, damned (just like Candyman himself), and is believed to curse or even kill anyone who reads it out loud.

What is Tomino’s Hell Curse? 

Tomino’s hell poem
Image: @tominos_hell_fans on Instagram

The curse of Tomino’s Hell Poem has various manifestations. A young girl is said to have died a few moments after reading the poem out loud.

The legend goes like this: Tomino, thought to be a boy but it’s not totally clear, reportedly lived in Japan. When Tomino wrote the gruesome poem, his parents were not happy about it at all. Not only can Japan be very strict, but the poem goes into some gnarly details.

Tomino’s parents locked him in the cellar to punish him for his poetry. They refused to feed him. Death eventually came as a result of cold and humidity in the form of bronchitis.

Thus, Tomino’s spirit remained imprinted in the worse of the poetry. If you read it aloud, it will evoke the curse. Tomino was not crazy, but on the contrary wrote the verses in anger towards his condition. Tomino was reportedly born with a serious disability of the legs and had to be in a wheelchair. The poetry reflects the sadness and feeling of helplessness that can come with disability — especially with a child.

Reading The Poem Out Loud

Tomino’s Hell Curse gained notoriety when people started suffering losses after reading the poem out loud.

In 1974, a movie that translates to “To Die in the Countryside” was released. Written and directed by Terayama Shuji, he took much inspiration from Tomino’s Hell when making the film. Because of this, when he died later on, people said that it was because of the poem.

There were also rumours of a few university students who died after reading it.

Urban legend also has it that when read out loud, people can suffer serious accidents like falls, permanent loss of their voices, sudden illness, and even driving accidents.

All of these cases allegedly have one thing in common: They all read Tomino’s Hell Poem out loud, and suffered the consequences.

The victims were mostly normal people, which included simple onlookers who were just trying to dispel the myth of the poem. Too bad for them!

The Trend of Tomino’s Hell

Tominos hell
Image: @artist.athelstan on Instagram

In Japan in the ‘80s, there was a trend of filming friends who were intent on reading the poem out loud. The trend became popular, and reportedly there were no consequences to reading it out loud most of the time.

However, it seems that the curse strikes at random. It might even be a scheme not yet understood. Today, in Japan, even the elderly and wise will not mention the poem out of a fear that it will curse them.

Japan tends to be a very superstitious country.

With no further delay, here is the English translation of the fatal poem. Read it at your own risk!

Tomino’s Hell Poem in English

Tomino’s Hell1

Elder sister vomits blood,
younger sister’s breathing fire
while sweet little Tomino
just spits up the jewels.

All alone does Tomino
go falling into that hell,
a hell of utter darkness,
without even flowers.

Is Tomino’s big sister
the one who whips him?
The purpose of the scourging
hangs dark in his mind.

Lashing and thrashing him, ah!
But never quite shattering.
One sure path to Avici,
the eternal hell.

Into that blackest of hells
guide him now, I pray—
to the golden sheep,
to the nightingale.

How much did he put
in that leather pouch
to prepare for his trek to
the eternal hell?

Spring is coming
to the valley, to the wood,
to the spiraling chasms
of the blackest hell.

The nightingale in her cage,
the sheep aboard the wagon,
and tears well up in the eyes
of sweet little Tomino.

Sing, o nightingale,
in the vast, misty forest—
he screams he only misses
his little sister.

His wailing desperation
echoes throughout hell—
a fox peony
opens its golden petals.

Down past the seven mountains
and seven rivers of hell—
the solitary journey
of sweet little Tomino.

If in this hell they be found,
may they then come to me, please,
those sharp spikes of punishment
from Needle Mountain.

Not just on some empty whim
Is flesh pierced with blood-red pins:
they serve as hellish signposts
for sweet little Tomino.

—translated by David Bowles




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