The tree is said to curse those who draw near, but thankfully divine protection is available nearby.

While we didn’t initially hire him for his ghost-hunting skills, RocketNews24’s Japanese-language reporter Ryo has become our go-to-guy for investigating rumors of paranormal activity in Tokyo. For his latest brush with the transmundane, though, Ryo had to journey outside the capital, to the neighboring prefecture of Chiba.

Knowing of Ryo’s professional interest in purportedly haunted locations, one of his friends clued him in about a haunted pine tree near Nishi Chiba train station. Legend has it that long ago, a criminal was executed at the spot, and that later a pine tree was planted at the site as a memorial. But while this may have eased the suffering of the dead man’s spirit, the tree itself has since become a source of dread.

▼ Nishi Chiba Station

Rumor has it that there have been multiple attempts to cut down the Cursed Pine, but that each time the workers assigned to the task have been injured in accidents or fallen ill before the tree could be felled. Ryo’s friend, who lives in the area, claims to have seen a clear, ghost-like figure near the tree late at night, and some locals say that a curse will be placed upon any curious individuals who approach the tree too closely.

Ryo arrived at Nishi Chiba Station shortly after 10 p.m. and headed out the north exit. He originally intended to head straight to the Cursed Pine, but no sooner had Ryo stepped out of the ticket gate than his eyes were drawn to a torii, the gate that marks the entrance to a Shinto shrine.

Ryo felt himself being drawn toward the torii, and as he stepped through its pillars, he found himself on a dimly lit path flanked by banners bearing the characters for Nishi Chiba Inari Daimyojin, the name of the shrine.

With the banners fluttering in an unusually strong nighttime wind, Ryo continued walking down the path. He was now completely alone, and could no longer feel any presence of the people who had been milling about inside the nearby station.

Arriving at the altar, he saw two fox spirit statues. Ryo tossed a coin into the collection box and offered a prayer, asking the shrine’s deity to protect him on his ghost hunt. He then reversed his steps and walked back out through the torii.

Once again right outside the station’s north exit, Ryo could see a thin strip of greenery bordered by the roadway on one side and the taxi lane/bus stop on another, and standing in the center of the median is the Cursed Pine.

The Cursed Pine is taller than the streetlights, and so its upper branches are obscured in shadow. As Ryo stepped walked the asphalt, the dark spire of the tree projected a foreboding atmosphere.

Now directly under the tree, thin strips of light filtered through its branches, as though they were judging Ryo and deciding whether his temerity could be forgiven.

Just then, Ryo heard a rustling overhead. He looked up, expecting to see a bird or cat balanced on the branches, but there was no visible sign of any living thing.

And yet, Ryo couldn’t shake the feeling that somehow there were thousands of eyes watching him.

With his reserves of courage rapidly dwindling, Ryo turned his camera around and snapped a selfie with the Cursed Pine, hoping that if there were any ghosts residing in the tree, they wouldn’t be able to resist this golden opportunity to photobomb/traumatize him.

However, the photo shows only Ryo and his arboreal acquaintance. Perhaps the spirits are camera-shy?

Or maybe Ryo’s prayer at the shrine just before approaching the tree kept the apparitions at bay. Lending further weight to the divine protection theory is that fact that several days have passed since Ryo visited the Cursed Pine, and Ryo is yet to meet with any calamities. And really, with all he’s been through recently, the guy really doesn’t need any more misfortune.

Photos ©RocketNews24
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