Residents of Japan's capital may have been knocked for a loop when spotting an ambulance whose exterior drips with what appears to be bloody hand imprints and paint made to resemble spattered blood. This, reports Friday (July 30 - Aug 6), is the "Delivery Obakeyashiki," a haunted house on wheels. Claiming to be Japan's first, it can be summoned to one's home or workplace within Tokyo's 23 wards, at a flat rate of 12,000 yen per 15-minute session.
The vehicle's exterior sports a QR code mark that facilitates access to more information at the web site of K.K. Kowagarasetai, the company's name, a play on words that means "The frightening troop."
According to Friday, the Fright-mobile is jam-packed with various gadgets designed to scare customers out of their wits, including a sophisticated audio system, thus ensuring an all-out assault on the senses.
Akari Yura, a former pinup model from Hiroshima who admits to being easily frightened, was assigned by Friday's editor to undergo a session and file a report afterwards.
Around the end of June, a suspicious-looking ambulance pulled up to a prearranged rendezvous point, and a man clad in a face mask and surgical garb disembarked and approached Yura.
"Good evening," he said, making a welcoming gesture toward the ambulance door. "Please get in."
Upon entry into the vehicle, the "patient" is first assaulted by the strong odor of rubbing alcohol and other chemicals, much as one might smell in a hospital emergency room.
"It was just too realistic," recalls Yura. "My first urge was to flee."
The door was slammed behind her, leaving Yura in near-total darkness. Then a headphone set was clamped on over her ears, and the fun began....
This particular session was arranged to portray the pathological urges of a surgeon who revels in murdering his patients.
Momentarily, Yura's ears are assaulted by the synthetically generated sounds of the doctor, manically chuckling as he wields a pair of medical scissors to seemingly amputate her ear.
The sensory assault soon reaches its zenith with a medley of agonizing cries.
"The realism was palpable," a clearly satisfied Yura relates. "The whole thing, in terms of the acting performance, speech and gadgetry they used, was awesome. With the one exception of taste, your senses undergo an all-out assault. And to be in an enclosed space in complete darkness heightens the sensations."
The "medical" staff who deliver the thrills on wheels are said to be serious professionals who undergo 100 or more hours of practice rehearsals before being let loose on paying customers.
"Before the onset of the Corona virus pandemic, we had already been thinking along the lines of using a hospital as our venue," Daichi Ono, director of K.K. Kowagarasetai, tells the magazine. "Then by chance someone I knew let me use his Toyota Hi-Ace van. Kenta Iwana, our producer, came up with the brainstorm of creating an 'ambulance of screams.' It took about one month to configure the vehicle, at a total outlay of 2 million yen."
"We always drive carefully; but the van's design is so extreme that on occasion curious cops will tap on the window and ask the driver what he's up to," Ono chuckles.
If you're seeking blood-curdling chills to dispel the summer heat, this new service might just do the trick.© Japan Today