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Mikomori Onsen (水籠 温泉) is a setting in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water.
Mikomori Onsen is a natural hot spring near the entry to Mount Hikami. Visiting hot springs is a popular activity in Japan, and currently, the hot spring is the location of the ruined Ichiru Ryokan bath house and resort, known as a famous hotspot for ghosts.
In chapter 1, the proprietor of Kurosawa Antiques, Hisoka Kurosawa, is commissioned by Ren Hojo to locate a lost item and brings her in-training apprentice, Yuuri Kozukata, to practice her Kagemi skills finding missing objects. Hisoka gives Yuuri a Camera Obscura, which amplifies their shadow reading abilities, and a post-mortem photo of a deceased woman to use as a yosuga. Hisoka allows Yuuri to search the building for the lost item while explaining details on how to use both the camera and their skills to find objects.
Hisoka strongly cautions against using their ability to find people, especially those who have been spirited away or the deceased. In either of those scenarios, the seeker may be drawn into dark places and see things they are not capable of handling. Hisoka also cautions to take care using the Camera Obscura not to attract the interest of the spirits the camera allows a person to see, or to mistakenly follow a spirit rather than a shadow of the past. Spirits may try to lure the living to the spirit world and trap them.
Through the camera, Yuuri repeatedly encounters the ghost of a man in an open shirt with black water coming from his face, as well as other disturbing, ghostly images. During their explorations, they discover that the building was the Ichiru Ryokan, a hot spring resort built to increase tourism, which was destroyed in a disastrous land slide that claimed the lives of many.
After finding the object of their goal, a photo album filled with post-mortem images, and pulling it back from the spirit realm, the ghost man attacks Yuuri, who is forced to defend herself with the Camera Obscura. Hisoka expresses guilt for bringing Yuuri to such a dangerous place for her first object search.
Ren Hojo and his assistant, Rui Kagamiya, explore the Ichiru Ryokan on their trip to the mountain and discover more about its back story.
During the landslide, the proprietor of the business, Tomoki Harakawa, lost his wife and child. Distraught, he set the remaining building on fire and climbed to the third floor to kill himself. Changing his mind at the last moment, a ghost latches on to his leg and sends Tomoki to his death. Under Tomoki's influence, Rui nearly hangs herself in the building.
Tomoki's father also lived on the mountain and had been friends with Keiji Watarai, assisting him in the assembling of the post-mortem photo album, and research of the area.
The Ichiru Ryokan was built upon the ancient site of a shrine where the nuregarasu no miko, or black water shrine maidens, lived at the edge of the Mikomori Onsen. Visitors were required to stop here to seek permission to continue on to the mountain and only those granted permission, or those wishing to die, were allowed to select a shrine maiden as an escort and proceed on. The shrine maidens used Mikomori Onsen and the nearby Mikomori Pond in many of their rituals and were required to keep wet continuously.
All black water shrine maidens took the family name "Mikomori" upon their acceptance to the shrine. The term possesses some word play in Japanese. 巫 "Miko" is the term for shrine maiden, and 守 "Mori" can mean to safeguard, protect, defend, or to act as a talisman. However, the term is written with alternate kanji: 水籠池. 水 Mi "Water"; 籠 Ko "Cage, containment, to be confined, or to be filled"; 池 Mori "Pond", likely referring to the nearby pond and onsen. So the term can literally mean "water filled pond" or be a more complicated reference to the shrine maiden's connection with water, both spiritually and physically, and their role safeguarding the dying to protect them from bad deaths.
Decades after the massacre and destruction of the original shrine, the local community sought to use the Mikimori Onsen as a possible tourist attraction and built up the area.
|Item type||A supernatural ability|
|Description||The ability to see the shadows of the past, through handling objects with strong associations to people or past events.
A person with this skill will use a "Yosuga," which is a clue or item connected with a lost object, to learn about the past, or to create a Zamei.
A "Zamei" is the shadow of the past. Usually appearing as a white mist or figure, or a flashback image, a Zamei acts out the past, showing a trace of where an item, or person, had gone before.
|Purpose||This ability can be used to trace missing objects or people, and learn secret histories. The connection of a shadow reader to something lost can stretch into the supernatural world and be used to draw the missing out of the spirit world and return it the normal one.
Conversely, an unskilled shadow reader may be drawn into the spirit world or into danger while connected through the shadows of the past, or if they mistakenly follow a true spirit, rather than their Zamei, which is not a ghost of a departed person.
|Location||Mount Hikami, Kurosawa Antique Shop|
|Variants||Mitori, or "Glancing," is the ability to read the secret histories and memories of a person, rather than object.|
|Appearances||FFV, Hisoka Kurosawa, Yuri Kozukata, Shrine Maidens of Mount Hikami|
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