The 2018 Netflix series ‘Dark Tourist‘ featured New Zealand journalist David Farrier visiting eight different countries (including Japan) on a mission to visit all manner of places relating to humans suffering in some sort of way whether it be victims of crime, tragic events or natural disasters. Of course, this kind of morbid traversing is nothing new, and people have been visiting these places for many decades but this TV show did help promote the idea of such tourism.
Having visited some famous dark historical sights in the likes of Poland, Germany, Australia, England and Cambodia (to name a few), I have to admit that I am slightly fascinated by such tourism. Japan has a fair number of places historically associated with death and tragedy, and Tokyo Fox has collated them into a series. Each volume will show a mix of relatively unknown places alongside the far more famous (or infamous in some cases!) ones.
1. Japan’s deepest and creepiest underground station.
Doai Station @ Yubiso, Minakami, Gunma-ken – There are no elevators or escalators at this virtually abandoned station so there`s the small matter of nearly 500 steps to navigate if heading north. With steps going up as far as the eye can see, this tunnel is something of a photographers paradise The ambience is like something from a different world and heightened by the cool, dark and mistiness of it all. The sound of dripping water echoing around the place also adds to it’s appeal. There are only ten trains passing through daily (five in each direction) so if you’re going here by train then it needs to be planned carefully. More details here
2. A symbolic connection between the atrocities of Auschwitz and Hiroshima.
Mitaki Temple @ Mitaki, Hiroshima-ken – Wabi-sabi style paths take you through this charming complex situated in a heavily forested valley on the side of Mount Mitaki. The name of the place is derived from the three (mi) waterfalls (taki) flowing within the grounds and the water is itself dedicated to the victims of the A-bomb on that fateful day in August, 1945. It houses a stone memorial dedicated to the victims of Auschwitz during World War II. The inscription refers to the symbolic connection between the atrocities of Auschwitz and Hiroshima which it hopes will never be repeated. More details here
3. The Tokyo pond with a sinister story.
Ubaga-ike (Old Hag’s Pond) @ 2-4-15 Hanakawado, Taito-ku, Tokyo – A wicked innkeeper from the 7th century tricked guests into sleeping in a room with a boulder hidden in the rafters which would fall on their heads while they were sleeping thereby killing them and giving her the chance to rob them. However, one night things went wrong and her daughter was killed and the evil innkeeper dumped her body in the pond which is now somewhat strangely located next to a children’s playground!
4. An interesting insight into Army training facilities or just propaganda?
Japan Ground Defense Force (JGSDF) PR Center @ Oizumigakuencho, Nerima-ku – There`s a few of these dotted around the country and they tend to be very interactive with simulator machines, army bento-box style meal sets, a bunker, a selection of military vehicles, army uniform cosplay of sorts and 15kg backpacks and bullet-proof vests to try on. More details here
5. The burial ground of the 47 Rōnin.
Sengakuji Temple @ 2-11-1 Takanawa, Minato-ku – 47 loyal samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonour of their leader by raiding the chief instigators castle where they ruthlessly and violently beheaded him. Their following collective action was to commit suicide which was seen as an honour and their graves are at this temple. More details here
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 01’
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 02’
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 03′
Click here to read ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special) Vol. 04′
Click here to read ‘Hell On Wheels – My Metropolis Magazine Article’