Tomino’s Hell – Scary Poem from Japanese

The directions for Tomino’s Hell are fairly straightforward — ridiculously so. In fact, they are so easy that it’s possible to play with this game unintentionally, although I, er… wouldn’t advise putting yourself or anyone else in a position where that might take place if you can help it. The game was seemingly once fairly popular on 2ch, and although a few who attempted it reported that nothing happened, others who mentioned that they were planning to give it a shot never reported back. Why they were not heard from again remains to be seen.

Tomino's Hell

I’m honestly not entirely clear on the origins of Tomino’s Hell; most versions of the story online comprise some history on it, but I’ve found verifying it to be somewhat iffy. It is stated that the poem became known to contemporary audiences after Japanese author and movie critic Inuhiko Yomata (also known as Goki Yomata) contained it in a book published in 1998 called The Heart Is Like A Rolling Stone; nonetheless, it is also noted that the poem itself is considerably older than that, having originally been composed by Saijo Yaso in a poetry collection published called Sakin, or Gold Dust, in 1919 — Sakin being Yaso’s 27th collection of poetry.

The two Yomota and Yaso are actual folks. Yomata was created in Nishinomiya on February 20, 1953 (which makes him 63 now), even while Yaso lived between 1892 and 1970. Both also seem to have published the functions in question, but honestly I have a little trouble with the deadline of Yaso’s work. If Yaso was born in 1892, also Sakin was printed as his 27th poetry collection in 1919, that means that from the time Yaso was 27 years old, he had published a truly staggering amount of poetry. It’s not impossible… but it is unusual.

Then again, I don’t possess a background in Japanese literature, and I do not speak Japanese, therefore it’s also possible that there simply isn’t a whole lot of information out there about these two writers in the English language. In any case, I would actually argue that Tomino’s Hell is similar to a game and more like a curse; the object is actually not to play it. If you’d like to read the poem, do it in your head, rather than aloud. But in the event that you absolutely must read it aloud…

…Play at your own risk.

Players:

One principal.

Requirements:

The poem “Tomino’s Hell.”

Instructions:

Recite the poem aloud, in Japanese if possible. The commonly used English translation follows :

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.

Tomino’s Hell in Original Japanese :

トミノの地獄
Tomino no Jigoku
姉は血を吐く、妹(いもと)は火吐く、
ane wa chi wo haku, imoto wa hihaku,
可愛いトミノは 宝玉(たま)を吐く。
kawaii tomino wa tama wo haku
ひとり地獄に落ちゆくトミノ、
hitori jigoku ni ochiyuku tomino,
地獄くらやみ花も無き。
jigoku kurayami hana mo naki.
鞭で叩くはトミノの姉か、
muchi de tataku wa tomino no ane ka,
鞭の朱総(しゅぶさ)が 気にかかる。
muchi no shuso ga ki ni kakaru.
叩けや叩きやれ叩かずとても、
tatake yatataki yare tatakazu totemo,
無間地獄はひとつみち。
mugen jigoku wa hitotsu michi.
暗い地獄へ案内(あない)をたのむ、
kurai jigoku e anai wo tanomu,
金の羊に、鶯に。
kane no hitsu ni, uguisu ni.
皮の嚢(ふくろ)にやいくらほど入れよ、
kawa no fukuro ni yaikura hodoireyo,
無間地獄の旅支度。
mugen jigoku no tabishitaku.
春が 来て候(そろ)林に谿(たに)に、
haru ga kitesoru hayashi ni tani ni,
暗い地獄谷七曲り。
kurai jigoku tanina namagari.
籠にや鶯、車にや羊、
kagoni yauguisu, kuruma ni yahitsuji,
可愛いトミノの眼にや涙。
kawaii tomino no me niya namida.
啼けよ、鶯、林の雨に
nakeyo, uguisu, hayashi no ame ni
妹恋しと 声かぎり。
imouto koishi to koe ga giri.
啼けば反響(こだま)が地獄にひびき、
nakeba kodama ga jigoku ni hibiki,
狐牡丹の花がさく。
kitsunebotan no hana ga saku.
地獄七山七谿めぐる、
jigoku nanayama nanatani meguru,
可愛いトミノのひとり旅。
kawaii tomino no hitoritabi.
地獄ござらばもて 来てたもれ、
jigoku gozaraba mote kite tamore,
針の御山(おやま)の留針(とめはり)を。
hari no oyama no tomebari wo.
赤い留針だてにはささぬ、
akai tomehari date niwa sasanu,
可愛いトミノのめじるしに。
kawaii tomino no mejirushi ni.

Additional Notes:

It isn’t recommended that this poem be recited aloud. Terrible tragedies tend to dog the steps of anyone foolish enough to do so — until there are no more steps left to dog.