The Search for Granny-Dump Mountain


A plaque commemorating Granny-dump Mountain in the northern Japan town of Tono. (Photo by Justin Nobel)

Illustrated lecture by Journalist Justin Nobel
Date: Thursday, January 26th
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

When elders in rural Japan reached age 70-or so it an ancient legend would have it-their sons would carry them to the top of a holy mountain and leave them to die of exposure and starvation. Granny-dump mountain, or obasute-yama, was seen as a way to trim the population and make way for the next generation in cold mountain villages where food was short and winter was long. It is referenced by the obscure eleventh century diarist Lady Sarashina, master haiku poet Matsuo Basho and a 1983 Palme d’Or winning film, yet most anthropologists doubt the practice ever actually existed.

Intrigued by this story, journalist Justin Nobel took to the road to see if he could get to the bottom of this enigmatic legend. His travels ultimately led him to a tiny town in northern Japan haunted by cannibalistic mountain men and shape shifting sprites. After scouring the countryside for clues he came to a shocking conclusion: the legend was very much alive, right in the heart of Tokyo.

Tonight join Morbid Anatomy and Justin Nobel to hear the story of his search for the elusive Granny-Dump Mountain.

Justin Nobel is a freelance journalist. His writing has appeared in TIME, Popular Mechanics, Audubon, Guernica and Meatpaper. His essay, The Last Inuit of Quebec, was recently included in Best American Travel Writing 2011 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). He pens a blog called Digital Dying for the funeral information website and another called the Absurd Adventurer where he sits for hours in one New York City spot. He lives in Blissville.

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