Geology

The Chinsekikan Is a Japanese Museum of Rocks That Look Like Faces

The Chinsekikan is certainly a unique museum. Here's a clue as to what it holds: the name of the place translates to "hall of curious rocks." But we're not talking about sparkling geodes or polished, spherical boulders. Japan's Chinsekikan contains nothing but rocks that look like faces. Seriously.

Welcome to the Hall of Heads

This Japanese museum puts your childhood rock collection to shame. The Chinsekikan, located in Chichibu, Japan (about two hours northwest of Tokyo), holds approximately 1,700 rocks that—kind of—resemble faces. According to Colossal, there are jinmenseki, or rocks with a human face, of pop culture icons in the mix too: Elvis Presley, E.T., Donkey Kong, Nemo, and more. (Sure, not all of those are humans, but apparently that's not a huge problem.)

Colossal explains, "the museum is currently run by Yoshiko Hayama, the wife of the original owner who passed away in 2010. But it was his rock collection that started it all. An avid collector, the late Shozo Hayama spent 50 years collecting rocks that looked like faces." The one stipulation for rocks to make it into the museum? Besides looking like a face, the only artist must be nature.

Face It — People Love Faces

At the end of the day, it's just rocks in there. There's a scientific explanation for why humans have a tendency to see faces in things that are definitely not faces: it's called pareidolia. (Ever look at the grill of a car and see an angry expression?) And apparently, neurotic people are more prone to this tendency than others. According to Science of Us, "Their nerves put them on higher alert for threats, which may mean that they see danger where it actually isn't. In this case, the researchers argue, that danger takes the form of a face."

If you think this is a weird museum, you need to read "The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections" by Jan Mark. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Enter Japan's Bizarre Museum of Rocks With Faces

Written by Joanie Faletto January 27, 2017

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