No, you didn’t read that wrong. Chichibu, a city located two hours from Tokyo, is the home for a museum that contains more than 1,700 rare rocks, including over 900 that resemble faces. Called Chinsekikan (aka “hall of curious rocks”), the unique museum began from the collection of a man who spent 50 years gathering interesting and uncommon rocks, especially those that look as though they have faces. Although he passed away in 2010, his wife now runs this unusual operation, which boasts rocks that look like movie and cartoon characters as well as politicians and celebrities.
The original collector stipulated that the rock faces in his collection must have been naturally created, so it’s surprising to see the rocks’ grins and grimaces and know that wind, water, and other natural elements, not craftsmen, are responsible for the variation in the faces. Some of the resemblances, such as the Elvis rock are uncanny (for a rock, that is), while others use a little or a lot of creative license. In any case, there’s a huge range of emotions depicted in these “faces” ranging from surprise to grumpiness to happiness, much more than we ever would have thought possible. The collection has grown so much that, at this point, some of the rocks don’t even have official names, and the owner sometimes taps the imagination and creativity of visitors to determine what they should be called. Kids have always loved picking out faces on trees or clouds — and after we tell them about this museum, they’ll never look at a rock again without trying to find its face.