Mifune Chizuko (御船千鶴子)

Chizuko MIFUNE (July 17, 1886 - January 19, 1911, died at the age of 24) was a woman introduced as a woman of supernatural power having toshi (clairvoyance or second sight power) (parapsychology) by Dr. Tomokichi FUKURAI. She was from Matsuai-mura (present Uki City), Udo-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture. She was the second daughter of a Chinese medicine doctor, Hidemasu MINUNE and his wife, Yuki.

Biography

She was born with progressive impaired hearing and when she reached adulthood, she was said to have had difficulty in hearing in her left ear. She was said to have had fine sensibility and rich emotions. She also earnestly believed in Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon Buddhisattva), however, she was easily caught in pessimistic feelings.

At the age of 22, she married Kaken KAWACHI, a Lieutenant Colonel. One day, she guessed right that the 50 yen disappeared from her husband's wallet was in the Buddhist alter that her parents-in-law were using, which caused her mother-in-law to attempt suicide. This incident led her to divorce him after a short term marriage, and to return to her family home.

In the family house, her brother-in-law (her older sister's husband) Takeo KIYOHARA, a shakan (dormitory dean) and PE teacher, mesmerized her, saying: "You have the power of toshi [clairvoyance]," and tested her, which brought forth such good results that he continued her training. After that, she saw through that the Sixth Division Unit happened to have not been on board of the sunk warship, Hitachi Maru at the Russo-Japanese War time, and discovered Manda Coal Mine in Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture on the request of Mitsui Gomei Kaisha, receiving 20,000 yen (about 20 million yen in the present value) as rewards. She is also said to have guessed right the presence of a bug or bugs under a bark, and the place of a ring lost in the sea. Above all, Kiyohara let Chizuko see through human bodies to diagnose a disorder, or tried to treat patients by tekazashi (waving one's hands over patients).

As Chizuko's reputation extended, she was introduced by Tsunehira ISERI, the principal of Kumamoto Prefectural Seisei Senior High School (at that time junior high school), and began to be studied by the scholars of the time including Shinkichi IMAMURA of the College of Medicine of Kyoto Imperial University (present Kyoto University), Tomokichi FUKURAI, professor (psychology) of Cultural School of Tokyo Imperial University (present Tokyo University) from 1909 to the following 1910.

On April 10, 1910, Fukurai and Imamura conducted an experiment on her clairvoyance power, with Kiyohara's attend in his residence. Fukurai, fearing that her method of seeing through things, holding the object and with her back to people might cause doubts, forced her to see through them with her back to them but not holding them, in which method she guessed wrong. Then, they put a business card that Kiyohara prepared into a tea jar, and told her to see through the jar, allowing her to touch it, and the result was that she guessed right the characters of the card.

Fukurai, having believed in her clairvoyant power, presented the result of the experiment in an academic meeting of psychology. As a result, the word 'toshi' (clairvoyance) picked up on the news papers greatly, became a big topic including the arguments as to its authenticity. Many of them who claiming themselves as 'Senrigan' (clairvoyant) came to Chizuko including Ikuko NAGAO, as well as the rush of those requests of clairvoyance.

On September 15, 1910, with the attend of Kenjiro YAMAKAWA, the former president of Tokyo Imperial University and an authority of physics, a toshi experiment was conducted.

Chizuko succeeded in guessing the characters in a lead pipe; however, it was revealed that they were not what Yamakawa prepared, but what Fukurai gave her for practice. These suspicious details brought forth a strengthened negative tone of the press to her clairvoyant power.

In such a situation, Chizuko, having read an article blaming Ikuko NAGAO's psychography, felt disappointed and angry, told KIYOHARA harshly that "it would be no use studying me any longer." On January 18, 1911, the following year, she committed suicide by taking potassium dichromate, and died at dawn of the following day at the age of merely 24. The locals took it that her suicide was due to a financial trouble with her father. It is generally said that she killed herself because she could not bear severe attacks from the press and the public; however, no news blaming her had been reported at that point.

It is doubtful that she had that 'ability.'
Even in successful cases of 'toshi,' she always put her back to observers when performing 'toshi,' saying that she could not concentrate, and refused stubbornly observations from the side and the front. Most of the successful cases were always with the containers sealed with paste, and what was more, it took her nearly 10 minutes. Results of actual verification revealed that this length of time was enough for her to unseal them using saliva, paste them again and dry them with her body temperature. Dr. Fukurai, thinking that the posture of her back to observers might cause suspicion, also persuaded Chizuko again and again, but she did not respond it. She saw patients visiting the clinic face-to-face in the first place, therefore, it was strange that she put her back to people in order to exert her power. In addition, the first experiment of Dr. Fukurai was not conducted in front of him.
He sent her 19 envelopes with tally impressions by mail, telling her to see through the contents and send them back to him; however, she sent back the 7 of them which she tried 'toshi,' mentioning that the 3 as 'she carelessly dropped them into a hibachi brazier and were burnt,' and as to the rest that 'she was too tired to do the job.'
If she were too tired to do the job, she should have sent the envelopes back; however, she did not do so. It was reasonable to think that she unsealed them, then failed in putting some of them back the way they were. In a lead pipe experiment which raised a controversy, Chizuko had two lead pipes, she herself said that she did not know the object in Yamakawa's pipe, so tried toshi on the object in the pipe for practice. However, she reported the result without telling that was on the pipe for practice, which might be highly possible that she failed in cheating because at first she was hiding the lead pipe which Yamakawa gave her. Other results of toshi could be explained as a chance or a sharpened ordinary observation skill.

Fiction

Chizuko and her detail was an anecdote what only connoisseurs world knew for a long time in Japan, however, she came to be known to many people who heard that she was a model of the mother of Sadako, a person with super power appearing in the novel "Ring"(horror) by Koji SUZUKI.

Moreover, the fifth volume of "Q.E.D. Shomei Shuryo," a mystery comic by Motokichi KATO, includes a work called "Hikari no Zanzo" in which one of the character was modeled after her.

In the 'Senrigan Series' by Keisuke MATSUOKA, Sachiko YURI (in the film version Hitomi KUROKI acted) appears as a granddaughter of Chizuko MIFUNE, however, it differs from other fictions in that a new interpretation was added that Chizuko's power is neither supernatural phenomena nor deliberate tricks, but that Chizuko, who learned going into a trance by her brother-in-law's hypnotic induction, could easily exert her instinctive powers termed as selective attention in psychology. Here the evaluation of 'Senrigan no Onna' does not mean supernatural power, but only means excelling intuition power.

Chizuko's life was introduced in the mujirushi Episode 8 'Senrigan no Otoko' of a TV drama "Trick" (TV drama).

Natsuhiko KYOGOKU introduces the details of Dr. Fukurai's senrigan (second sight) experiment, in his novel "Moryo no Hako."