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Wednesday, 11th November 2015
In General Japan News,

Hokkaido town looks for answers to stone figure mystery

Residents of a town in Hokkaido are looking for more information about a stone figure that was found inside a hollowed-out tree.

The carving was discovered in 1976 inside the tree trunk in the garden of Hideo Okano in Imakane when he cut it down to use the wood to make a table.

He was surprised to find the statue inside as there was no obvious entry hole to show how it may have been inserted.

Since then there has been much conjecture about the provenance of the figure, with some believing it could have been left there hundreds of years ago by Japanese Christians fleeing persecution.

Masayuki Miyamoto, a member of Imakane’s board of education told the Japan Times: “We would like to display the figure as town residents want to pass it down [to] future generations.

“But we cannot designate it as a cultural heritage of the town because we cannot accurately evaluate it. We badly want new researchers to examine it in detail.”

The figure has been hewn out of local stone with a sharp object and may not be complete. One of the most important clues to its origins is thought to be a cross on its base.

This is the main reason that so many people think the so-called Hidden Christians may be responsible for it.

Since Mr Okano’s death in 1992, the statue has been in the possession of the town office, but more information is needed if the local authority is to make the most of the object and put it on display.

The most likely explanation as to how the object got inside the tree seems to be that it was placed there when it was a sapling and the tree has grown around it.

Experts in this area are being sought, with the hope that someone may understand the meaning of the piece, which could eventually become a tourist attraction.

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