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One of the most memorable scenes in the Ring is the grainy, black-and-white flashback of Yamamura Shizuko's psychic demonstration being held in Tokyo. In the demonstration, Shizuko (played by Masako, at left) is branded a fraud, after which she falls into despondency and commits suicide a year later. What you probably don't know is that both this event and the character of Yamamura Shizuko herself are based on actual fact.

Mifune Chizuko was born in 1886 in Kumamoto Prefecture. By 1909, rumors of her powers of foresight, which developed one day while practicing a kind of meditation involving deep breathing, had spread throughout Kumamoto and beyond. These rumors eventually reached the ear of one Fukurai Tomokichi, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the prestigious Tokyo University. Fukurai had a deep interest in the supernatural, and used Chizuko as one of his test subjects in proving the validity of extra-sensory perception, the culmination of which was the infamous public demonstration of September 15th, 1910.

While the actual demonstration was free of the fatality portrayed in the Ring, Chizuko -- like Shizuko -- was accused of being a charlatan, a blow from which she never recovered. Whereas Shizuko threw herself into an active volcano, Mifune Chizuko ended her life in 1911 by ingesting poison. She was 25.

After Mifune's death, Prof. Fukurai (who was the model for Ikuma Heihachiro of the Ring films) took a woman named Nagao Ikuko under his wing. Ikuko's power was nensha, the focusing of will to produce an image on film or some other medium. Nagao too was branded a fraud, which filled her with such emotion that she developed a raging fever which ultimately led to her death. Undeterred, Fukurai would take on yet another subject: a woman by the name of Takahashi Sadako.

Sadako also practiced heavy breathing / mental concentration exercises similar to what Chizuko is reputed to have, with the result that Sadako, too, developed foresight. By 1911 (just one year later), Sadako had also developed the power of nensha. Her ability is often referred to as "latent," possibly by her husband (with whom she began the breathing / mental exercises, and who aided her in the development of her powers).

Fukurai met Sadako in 1913, and through her was able to breathe life into his sagging studies. That same year he published a book called TOUSHI TO NENSHA, which was later translated and sold in the U.S. as Clairvoyance and Thoughtography.

Fukurai's theories never quite seemed to catch on, however, and in 1919 he quit (or was made to quit, depending on the source) his position at Tokyo Imperial university. Currently, his work lives on in the form of the Fukurai Institute of Psychology, Inc.

To the right is a page from the original Japanese edition of Fukurai Tomokichi's Clairvoyance and Thoughtography. It was Fukurai's assertion that his test subjects created these photographs using the power of nensha.


In the Ring novel, Shizuko's psychic powers manifested as a result of her encountering something on the ocean floor--a stone statuette that had been deliberately tossed beneath the waves. The statuette was of a religious figure whose real name was said to be Edachi-no-kimi Ozunu, but who came to be known as En no Ozunu or En no Gyoja (in English, "En the Ascetic"). Far from being a fictional character, however, records dating back more than 1,000 years indicate that En actually existed.

Born 634 AD in present-day Nara, En was said to be able to conjure spirits, walk on water and fly great distances. At age 19, he left home to devote himself to his religious studies and spent decades meditating in the mountains, moving from region to region (the result of banishment, say several texts). In 699 at the age of 66 he arrived in Izu -- which, as we saw in Ring, was the hometown of the Yamamura family.

At some point in the 7th century En no Ozunu founded Shugendo, a sect that combines Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto thought. Not only does the sect remain active to this day, its home temple is none other than Ryoanji, which has been declared a World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


       Text (c) 2001-2006, 2012-2013 J Lopez. Coding assist by inteferon. All characters and situations remain the property of their respective owners, namely Kadokawa Shoten, Asmik Ace Entertainment, Fuji TV, DreamWorks, and Koji Suzuki, the man behind the Ring.