Shimane Prefecture, located along the northwestern edge of Japan’s main island of Honshu, is commonly the butt of jokes. At best, it’s often confused with neighboring Tottori Prefecture, and at worst, it’s forgotten about altogether.

Despite its natural beauty and historical sites such as the Grand Shinto Shrine of Izumo, there’s no getting around the fact that Shimane is a quiet, rural place. Even in the prefectural capital of Matsue, there’s usually not much going on.

Except, perhaps, for a recent poltergeist attack.

On the morning of December 16, a worker at Shimane’s Prefectural Government Complex in Matsue left his home, allowing himself enough time to reach the office at his usual starting time of 8 a.m. Upon arrival, he glanced at the clock on the wall and was puzzled to find it read 1:35.

It turns out that not only the clock in his particular office, but all of the roughly 250 clocks scattered about the complex had stopped simultaneously during the night. Throughout the main building, southern building, annex, and assembly hall, each and every clock was displaying the exact same, incorrect, time.

▼ The Shimane Prefectural Government Complex, shown adjacent to Matsue Castle

The complex’s clocks are automatically controlled by a central unit which sends out a radio signal to coordinate each timepiece. However, an inspection of the unit showed it to be functioning as normal. “There have been incidences in the past where the time was off by a few minutes, but we’ve never had all the clocks stop at once like this,” said a spokesperson from the suppcomplex’s supply and maintenance department.

Even stranger, at 1:35 in the afternoon of the same day, exactly 12 hours after the clocks had stopped, they all started moving once again.

Thankfully, in our modern world where every white collar worker has a computer and at least one cell phone, all which can tell time, there was no disruption of work at Shimane’s Prefectural Government offices. Nevertheless, maintenance managers are scratching their heads over the cause of the problem.

More mundane theories point to the fact that the clock control unit was installed over 30 years ago, making it an age at which one could expect the occasional glitch. Some have also postulated that the abnormality could have been the result of a power surge caused by seismic retrofitting construction or lightning storms in the prefecture.

Others, however, theorize that the en masse clock stoppage was the work of paranormal, rather than electrical, activity. We here at RocketNews24 are inclined to believe them, for no other reason than because this is Shimane we’re talking about.

Shimane is the setting for several of Japan’s ghost stories. It’s such a traditional haunt for spirits and specters that the prefecture is where author Lafcadio Hearn based himself while researching and writing his collection of supernatural tales from Japan, Kwaidan.

Also, as we mentioned before, Shimane is a quiet place. Yes, Matsue has a nice castle, beautiful lake for sunset cruising, and a number of museums and galleries. After dark, though, there’s not much to do. The city does have a pleasure quarter, but it’s pretty lacking in both glitz and size compared to other urban centers of Japan.

Matsue: Quaint. Beautiful. Romantic, even. But not exciting.

Simply put, there aren’t a lot of entertainment options after the sun goes down, and certainly not enough to satisfy a soul with the endless amount of time on its hands that the afterlife provides. Matsue may not have cows to tip over, but if we were bored, mischievous ghosts, we could see ourselves getting a night’s worth of amusement out of pranking the staff at the Prefectural Government Complex.

Having not yet been able to pinpoint the cause of the problem, the building managers are plan to call in the clocks’ manufacturers to inspect the devices.

Sources: Yahoo! Japan, Sankei News