Ancient Stone Said to Contain Demonic Spirit Breaks Open

The unprecedented times just keep coming. Monday, a story from Japan started dominating chatter online for one particularly spooky reason: a demon may have been released out into the world. An ancient Japanese myth tells of the Sessho-seki, a "killing stone" that contains the spirit of Tamamo-no-Mae, a spirit in the shape of an evil nine-tailed fox.

The rock said to contain the spirit? Well, it has broken open. Separated into two chunks, an image of the rock was shared on Twitter by a person that happened to be on a stroll around the rock.

"The rock was split in half and the rope was also detached," a translated tweet from @Lil0727K reads. "I feel like I've seen something that shouldn't be seen."

The area has become a popular sightseeing spot, and upwards of 180,000 people have engaged with the tweet. According to the Guardian, local media noticed "several years ago" that cracks had started to appear in the stone, suggesting rainwater seeped inside and weakened the integrity of the stone.

Registered as a local historical site in 1957, local officials are now set to meet on what to do with the cracked stone.

The earliest tales of Tamamo-no-Mae surfaced during Japan's Muromachi period from 1336 to 1573. As with most myths, several different iterations of told, but the crux of the tale typically revolves around a fox-shaped spirit with bad intentions.

"The Sessho-seki, or 'Killing Stone,' is an object in Japanese mythology. It is said that the stone kills anyone who comes into contact with it," Japanese dictionary Jisho writes. "The stone is believed to be the transformed corpse of Tamamo no Mae, a beautiful woman who was exposed to be a kind nine-tailed fox working for an evil daimyo plotting to kill the Japanese Emperor Konoe and take his throne. As told in the Otogizoshi, when the nine-tailed fox was killed by the famous warrior Miura-nosuke, its body became the Sessho-seki."

The Sessho-seki itself is located in Nasu, an area known for sulfurous hot springs.