Tamamo-no-mae - 玉藻前 - [yokai]
Tamamo-no-Mae is One of Japan's Three Great Evil Yokai. (日本三大悪妖怪, "Nihon san dai aku yōkai.") often listed among the likes of 'ShutenDoji' & 'Otakimaru.' (Also often listed in hind-sight is: 'Sutoku Tennō.') These yokai are best known for causing chaos in medieval japan during the Heian period (794-1185.)
• About this yokai: Tamamo-no-mae [Note: we'll call her 'Mae' for short from this point forward] was a beautiful, Power-hungry, nine-tailed Kitsune, who committed unforgivable, evil deeds in China, India & Japan, best known for seducing rulers, toppling an empire & two Dynasties!! - Each time, she managed to escape execution: Eventually, disguised as a young girl, she fled to Japan, where the bulk of her story takes place...
During the reign of Emperor Konoe (17) Reigning 1142-1155.) Mae had been working her way up to the ranks to courtesan under his father (Emperor Toba (29) gaining his confidence & trust. – Mae was described as: "the most intelligent girl, being able to easily answer any question asked, she was the most beautiful woman in the entire country (perhaps the world!) she had a lovely scent and her clothes stayed pristine & tidy all day." - everyone in the imperial court adored her.
One day after an absolutely radiant poetry performance held in her honour, she was given the nick-name Tamamo-No-Mae, "lady duckweed", soon, she became Emperor Tobas most trusted consort.
[Mae literally emitting light during her performance, Toriyama Sekien 1779.]After exchanging vows, Emperor Toba fell gravely ill. None of the courts physicians could tell what was wrong, so, the lead fortune-telling Onmyoji: Abe no Yasuchika, was called in. He told the emperors fortune and did some divine rituals (notably, the Abe's signature spell, "Taizan fukun no sai." 泰山府君祭") soon, to his horror, he found that the emperor was being cursed by a fox spirit, namely, Mae. - Realizing that they were onto her, Mae quickly fled to the Nasuno country side where she hid.
A couple years passed, Mae was spotted causing trouble again (kidnappings & theivery) soon, The emperor ordered 80,000 of his strongest warriors to hunt her down & kill her. They where lead by skilled archers Miura-no-suke (三浦介) and Kazusa-no-suke (上総介) who where appointed as shogen (generals.) with the omnyoji as the strategist. - For a while, Mae managed to evade capture, outsmarting them all, using her magic to escape.
Eventually, Mae was shot by Miura-no-suke in a field near Nasu, the night prior, she had appeared in his dreams and pleaded with him not to kill her, the warrior refused her manipulative pleas, and the next day of Miura fired two arrows at her, one struck her through the belly, the other peirced her neck. Kazusa then finished her off with his long sword.
Despite Mae's slaying, a full year after her killing, the reigning Emperor Konoe died, heirless, then a year after his death, his father, Emperor Toba died as well. - Without an heir, The untimely deaths of these Emperors kickstarted the events leading towards the Genpei national civil war, introducing the shogunate and changing society across Japan as they knew it.
[The Sesso Seki, as included in Toriyama Sekien's Hyakki Yagyo. 1779]
[The actual stone in question, located in a dry river valley at the foot of Mt.Chausu, just upstream from Nasu Yumoto Shrine & Onsen.]
That very boulder was found Broken in half earlier this year on March, 5th 2022: causing several people on social media & around the world to joke that the stone breaking was perhaps a bad omen. (Nobody actually took this seriously.) But on March 26th, the local government actually held a purification ceremony performed by local priests - (Better safe than sorry i guess.) - Notably; an ominous fog fell over the area as the purification took place...
The breaking of the stone lead to several online jokes & memes about Mae's return & her current influence on world events: a fairly common joke is that she is up to no good in Russia, Others have jokingly blamed her for everything from assassinations, to currency crashes, and any number of other disasters which took place during the course of the year. - The mention of the stone's breaking is occasionally brought back up, usually soon after when a major disaster strikes & Mae is (jokingly) blamed for the current misfortunate event. - Although, to that point, folklorists have pointed out that Mae was 'canonically' either "killed" or "repented & put to rest by Gennō" leading to - a few also like to jokingly debate that Mae's whole deal, was in fact, manipulation - [Jokes like these seem to be either taken as 'hearsay' to the existing lore or as a 'modern continuation of the folklore', depending how one wants to view it, neither is nessesarily ‘wrong.’]
[the cracked Sessho-seki stone...]
• Modern Pop Culture: Tamamo no Mae herself appears in several anime & game series, being the definition of "Evil kyuubi Kitsune" Her legend inspired the titular character, Naruto, Arhi from League of Legends & Several fox pokemon such as Ninetails, Nickit, Zorua & countless other trickster foxes in pop culture. if you have a favourite kitsune girl, it's probably largely in thanks to this story!