Hiya Everyone!

As promised on last night’s Paranormal View Radio Show, I would write up my story at the Aokigahara (Sea of Trees) at the base of Mt. Fuji and links to the various Japanese ghost stories I shared on last night’s show.

20150613-Kat-talks-Japanese Before we begin, here is a link to last night’s show! You can also listen to this show, and all the older shows, in our iTunes archive! Or, you can listen to Geoffry’s archive of the show on his webpage, here.

What I talked about last night was Beppu City Hot Springs0 and Mt. Osore (Mt. Fear) (恐山 Osore-zan) as the gateways to Hell. Also the Sanzu River that runs off of Mt. Osore being seen as one of the rivers to Hell all ghosts must cross. The Bodai Temple ((菩提寺 Bodai-ji) that sits on Mt. Osore has an annual festival called the Itako Taisai Festival, where the traditional blind mediums called Itako channel spirits. This practice is called  kuchiyose (口寄せ kuchiyoseor translated to summon. At the moment there are approximatly only four such itako left in the world who are all advanced in age, three of them died in 2009 alone. Although seen as folk shamen from Northern Japan, the government hasn’t been supportive of them and have discouraged the practice. The fate of the itako looks much like the fate of onmyoji, or occult Shinto divination, which also has been phased out of popular culture in Japan.

Many who visit Bodai-ji report the heavy sensation of being watched by not just a few souls- but thousands.

kamado jigoku 2

Kamado Jigoku (cooking pot hell) and the wonderfully kitschy Oni and his cooking pot. The red sign reads “Welcome to Kamado Jigoku” with happy little demons on the side.

Beppu City (gee I love that name, it’s so fun to say) is a very popular hot springs resort area in the country. It boasts hundreds of natural hot springs, called onsen, and bath house resorts where bathers can go and relax. Plus, the output of natural hot spring water is only second to  Yellow Stone National Park. However, there are a few hot springs that are simply too hot for humans to use, and thus they are for viewing only. This group of eight hot springs are called jigoku or “Hells,” and are located in two districts of Beppu City; Kannawa and Shibaseki District. Kannawa District is home to the umi jigoku (ocean hell), Oniishibozu jigoku (bald monk hell?) because the thick, muddy water creates large bubbles on the surface that look like Monk’s heads bobbing up and down. There is shiraike jigoku (white late hell) for the milky-white minerals in this hot spring’s water, kamado jigoku the “cooking pot hell” where a statue of an oni (loosely translated to demon, troll, or goblin but don’t act in the same manner as the Western idea of demons) stands with a cooking supplies, yama jigoku or “mountain hell.”


Chinoike Jigoku or “Bloody Hell Pond.” However, I do like that translation “the hot spring hell of the blood.”













Over in Shibaseki District are the Tatsumaki jigoku or “spouting hell” because a natural geyser spouts from this hell every 30-40 minutes for a duration of 6-10 minutes at a time. But, the one hell that really is thought to be a gateway to hell is the final hot spring- Chinoike jigoku, or “Bloody Pond Hell.” As you can see from the photo above, this pond is blood red (because of the minerals in the water) but also is a constant boiling temperature of 78C (172.4 F) which is enough to “boil your hyde right off” as Henry put it. Along the natural rock wall, images of demons have been carved. This particular hotspring has a rather tragic reputation too, it used to be a site of torture and execution by the local warlords hundreds of years ago. Manage to make the wrong person mad? They could torture you by placing a hand, arm, or leg into the scolding water. Really make them upset? They’ll throw you right in to boil to death.

There are no associated ghost stories that I could find for this gateway to hell, but wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few only passed around by the locals.

Tojinbo Rosoku rocks

Rosoku Rocks at Tojinbo Cliffs.

Our next stop isn’t a gateway to hell, so to speak, but a popular suicide destination- the Tojinbo Cliffs of Fukui Prefecture. I’ve personally been to these cliffs, but at the time of my visit I had no idea of their deadly reputation as a suicide spot. On the show I shared a story about using a toilet at their visitors center, but you’ll have to listen to the archive to hear it. (^_~) It’s a little after the first commercial break I think.

Anyway, the cliffs are natural basaltic rock which have been worn away over the past centuries, but this has created a plunging 90 degree drop into the Sea of Japan off the cliffs. I shared to origin story of the cliffs’ name on the show, and a few ghost stories. On average 25 people a year take their lives off of these rocks. One retired policeman, Yukio Shige, became distraught with the amount of bodies being pulled from the cliffs each year. So, he started patrolling the cliffs for people who were potentially going to commit suicide, and convince them to reconsider. Since he started patrolling in 2003, he and his group of volunteers estimate that they have convinced over 500 people to not commit suicide. The group also keeps in touch with the people who they have stopped from jumping.


Retired police officer Yukio Shige, on patrol at the Tojinbo cliffs

However, there are still the spirits of those who passed before Shige and his group started their patrolling duties. The most reported paranormal sighting at the cliffs would be shadow people apparitions replaying their deaths or full bodied apparitions of the deceased looking over the cliffs to the sea beyond. Every August during Obon time (when the spirits of the dead are said to return to earth to visit) stories of ghosts at Tojinbo spread around the entire country.

Tojinbo Cliffs remains a popular natural feature to visit however, there is a visitors center, restaurants, and gift shops not too far off the main cliff hiking area.


Yureizaka Minato kuYureizaka is the name of our next destination, it liturally translates to “Ghost Hill.” There are many ghost hills around Japan, but the most notable one is in Minato Ward in Tokyo. Kit Nakamura wrote a wonderful article about the mystic Ghost Hill for the Japan Times, and I encourage everyone to read it.  I learned about the Ghost Hill thanks to Haunted Tokyo Tours, a ghost tour group run by an American named Lilly who has lived in Tokyo for 30 years and is an paranormal investigator.



Ink painting of Taira no Masakado’s head on display in Kyoto.

The final ghost story I shared was about Japan’s first samurai, Taira no Masakado (903-940AD.) He lived during the Heian Era, when the capital of Japan was in Kyoto, not Tokyo as it is today. At the time Tokyo was a fishing village called Edo (pronounced Eh-do). Masakado wasn’t a fan of the ruling Imperial Government, and decided to create his own kingdom in the area known as Saitama today, and then declared himself the new Emperor of Japan. The still ruling Emperor, however, didn’t take this too well, and ordered for Masakado to be caught and executed. It only took two months for his command to be fulfilled. Masakado’s head was brought back to Kyoto and put on display to the public. However, Masakado’s spirit wasn’t at rest and one night in an eerie green light, possessed his head once again, and flew it out of Kyoto back to his home near Edo. Witnesses reported seeing his green-glowing head float along the countryside of Japan looking for his body. Meanwhile, his body reanimated and hobbled along trying to find his head! It must have walked into the sea however, because his body was never seen of again.




Masakado no Kubizuka

The tomb of Taira no Masakado’s head at Kanda Myojin Shrine.

Kanda Myojin Shrine

Kanda Shrine, where Masakado’s head is enshrined.

Masakado’s head however, tired for flying over the country in search for his body, eventually crash-landed on a hill in Edo. The terrified fishing village locals found his head, washed it in a nearby pond, and them buried it in a tomb to honor his spirit. The hill where his head landed was named Masakado no Kubizuka or “the hill of Masakado’s head.” It lay in that burial tomb until the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Now, that little fishing village of Edo had transformed into the Nation’s capital of Tokyo in those intervinigng years, and now Masakado no Kubizuka was located in the growing Otemachi district of Tokyo. The Ministry of Fiance was transforming that area of the city into the financial district, and Masakado’s head was taking up prime real estate. So, the Ministry of Finance attempted (somewhat successfully) to flatten Masakado’s Hill and fill in the pond where his head had been cleaned nearly a thousand years prior. The Ministry built an office building, but less than a two years working in the building, 14 employees had died of either accidents, illness, or other incidents with many other employees reported injuries to their legs, hands, or arms. Because of the mounting fear of the building being on cursed ground, the Ministry of Finance razed the part of their building that was located on Masakado’s ground. His tomb was rebuilt and incorporated into  and is honored today as a revered spirit. A side note here, Kanda Myojin Shrine has been around for 1,270 years, but on that exact spot. It was moved by the military decree of Shogun Tokagawa Ieyasu when he built his castle in Edo/ Tokyo. It is said that whenever Kanda Myojin gets into disrepair, as what happened several times before and after WWII, Masakado’s ghost would appear until the shrine was cleaned up.

During the occupation of Japan after WWII, American forces attempted to raze Masakado’s Hill yet again. The American forces wanted to build a motor pool for their military vehicles, and decided that this hill was a good central point to do it. While a bulldozer attempted to dig into the hill, it flipped over killing the driver. More mysterious things happened to the American forces while they attempted to raze the shrine, such as accidents to soldiers and other misfortunes. After this string of accidents and following pleas from locals and local officials, the American forces decided to give up the project.

And that’s it my friends! I hope everyone enjoyed last night’s show and all these photos to go along with it!