Finding your way to the heaven or hell temple, Senko-ji, is like navigating your way through a bizarre purgatory in Osaka Prefecture. Once you get there, though you’ll have the chance to experience the horrors of hell on one side and the serenity of heaven on the other.
This mysterious temple is about a 30-minute train ride from Osaka City, and then a winding 10-minute walk through a residential area with few signs or markers.
It is almost impossible to imagine that the gateway to hell lurks amongst stores selling shoes and children playing games like kendama. It seems the sages were wrong, we now know that the road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions, it’s paved with fruit stalls and toy shops.
Finally arriving at the temple, visitors usually make a point of traveling to the hell half of the temple before going to heaven. In the hell part, you can enjoy macabre thrills such as putting your head in a rock and hearing the sounds of the accursed suffering in fiery damnation and getting your photo taken with demon horns.
After enjoying some schadenfreude, the courageous should head for the nearby hut that represents the entrance to hell. Appropriately, the entrance to the accursed land is dark, hot and crowded and features a huge devil statue that looms over you.Next to the Archfiend is a Japanese horror called the Yamauba (a mountain cave-dwelling hag). While Beelzebub may be the more imposing figure, it’s the Yamauba that has the voice. The hag cackles its story of taking stray children over the sound system while the foul creature’s words are animated on a nearby video screen.
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