The Story of Kumamoto Mountains’ Lucky Cat

by Mizuho Miyazaki

The Escape Stone, long said to be resilient in the face of calamities, has fallen — revealing the silhouette of a cat.

The colors of autumn leaves paint the mountains and rice fields below, while a full view of the coming winter months is revealed through the clearly-defined blue silhouette of a cat.

A huge stone block lodged between two sides of a 30-meter-high cavity in the rocky mountainside looked as though it was floating in the air, thus earning the name, the “Escape Stone.”

Located on the southern cone of the Aso Caldera near the village of Minami Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, the impressive “stone that doesn’t fall” measures three meters high and two meters wide. Its infallibility attracted students who go to pray for success in entrance exams and job hunting.

However, following the magnitude 7 Kumamoto Earthquake on April 16, 2016, the “stone that doesn’t fall” in fact did fall, unexpectedly revealing the cat-shaped silhouette.

The stone block fell 50 meters down the slope in one piece without cracking. This led many people to believe that it fell to save students from failing, and thus it has since become a popular spot again.

The Escape Stone is located where it fell, approximately two hours up a hiking trail accessed from privately-owned land. It can only be reached with an accompanying guide.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.