Tojinbo’s Sad Cliffs (東尋坊), Japan

Located in Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture of Japan, this scenic area is known for its stunning beautiful coastline. The rocky cliffs of Tojinbo, which stretches over 1 km, is a popular tourist attraction. It features magnificent pillar shaped rocks created by sea wave erosion. The rock pillars exhibit hexagonal and pentagonal joints which are similar to those at Giant Causeway in North Ireland or those in Norway, Korea  and Hong Kong National Geopark at High Island.

While we were there, we were awed by the surreal and eerie look of the cliffs with its gigantic columnar joint of basalt. There were so many tourists walking up and down the steep rugged cliffs, enjoying the spectacular scenery.  We captured this photo of  a couple walking down the cliffs; it didn’t seem any ghostly to us.

But the Tojinbo cliffs also have a dark side – as many as 25 Japanese came here each year to end their lives by jumping off the 20-30m high cliffs, throwing themselves onto the jagged rocks and crashing waves.

The bigger picture is that  more than 30,000 people in Japan kill themselves every year – Japan’s suicide rate is one of the highest in the world. Depression is the number one cause for suicide in Japan, followed by illness and debt. Frustrated at having pulled so many bodies out of the sea, a retired police officer Yukio Shige, started his one man crusade patrolling the cliffs for potential jumpers. He convinced hundreds of people from jumping and taking their lives.

So, Tojinbo are very sad cliffs but the view is breathtaking. The Japanese sea is much darker than the subtropical seas that I am used to see. It seems more mystical.

The waves at Tojinbo is dramatic. At low tides, pools of vivid green water are created immediately adjoining areas of vivid blue.  At high tides, forceful foamy waves break at the dark coastal rocks. Local legend has it that Tojinbo, a very violent Buddhist monk loathed by his fellows, was pushed out off the cliff to death. His angry spirit didn’t leave the sea and it had always been  incredibly stormy on the day of his death, 5 April, every year until finally his spirit was soothed by the prayers of a master monk.

 In our several hours out there walking up and down the cliffs, we were whipped around by wind and salty water from the waves; although we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  We  braved the wrath of suicide ghosts on these rugged cliffs jutting into the stormy seas.
 On our way back, we couldn’t help thinking of what Mother Theresa said – life is precious, don’t destroy it!

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