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Ghostly Laughter At The Shrine of The Last Samurai

Nogi Shrine, in Fushimi, Kyoto is dedicated to and enshrines the former Japanese general Nogi Maresuke. General Nogi, the son of Mori clan samurai Nogi Maretsugu, was the last Japanese to commit 'junshi' (the ceremonial suicide of following one's lord into death), after the passing of Emperor Meiji in 1912.

Born on December 25th 1849, at a time when the Tokugawa Shoguns still ruled the country, Nogi Maresuke was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and would play a major role in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. As a model of feudal loyalty and self-sacrifice, it was this determination to serve the Emperor that led to the Shrine being constructed so close to the final resting place of his lord, Emperor Meiji.

The shrine was established in 1916, four years after Nogi's death. The main entrance, Shinmon gate, of the shrine is said to be made from a single trunk of a 3,000 year old Taiwanese hinoko cypress (General Nogi was the governor-general of Taiwan from 1896-1898). Within the shrine grounds is a replica of Nogi Maresuke's childhood home, complete with models of Nogi, as a boy, and his mother being admonished by his strict father. There is also a small museum (pictured below) made with the same masonry from the third army headquarters during the Russo-Japanese War (the building was purchased and moved to this site at the time of the shrine's founding). Letters and books written by Nogi can be found here along with a number of paintings.

As well as the historical tales of a past military figure, this location also holds rumours of paranormal activity! Just outside the shrine, by the road that runs in front of the shrine gate is a small public toilet building. It is said that the spirit of a small girl has been seen along with reports of childish laughter being heard when nobody is there. Where the story has its origin is not known, and although it is claimed that a business owner committed suicide in the toilet by hanging some years ago after his business failed, there is nothing to connect the two. So who is the spirit of the small girl, does the laughter belong to the spirit, and if so why does she haunt this location? These are questions that will most probably remain unanswered forever.

Nogi Shrine is a short walk from the Tomb of Emperor Meiji in Fushimi, Kyoto and is close to Momoyama Station on the JR Nara Line.

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