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. The grave that just can’t be moved without incident!
Masakado’s Grave @ 1-2-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo – Tucked away between a couple of large buildings in Otemachi is the grave for Taira no Masakado (903-940AD) who is considered to be Japan’s very first samurai. This minor but successful warlord had his head decapitated and his final resting place is here as attempts to have moved it have resulted in accidents or deaths for the construction workers involved. More details here
2. The volatile volcano in Kyushu
Mount Aso @ Takawara, Aso, Kumamoto – Shaped over 20,000 years ago, this volanic area is actually still active! The Grand Canyon-esque place emits smoke and due to the presence of toxic volcanic gas the crater is sometimes restricted. People with respiratory problems such as asthma, are actually told to refrain from approaching the crater at any time. More details here
3. More caves than the place name reveals!
The Hundred Caves of Yoshimi (Hyakketsu) @ 324 Kitayoshimi, Yoshimi, Hiki-Gun, Saitama-ken – These man-made caves and tunnels were made bigger during WWII to protect the Japanese from the Allied bombing raids. There is some debate about how they were formed and this military museum’s website states that they were enlarged through the efforts of 3,500 Korean forced labourers. More details here
4. The inafmous forest where some people go to on a one-way trip
Aokigahara @ Shoji, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi-ken – This 35-square-kilometre forest, located at the northwest base of Mount Fuji, has a bit of a reputation as the place people go to kill themselves. The notorious “suicide forest” has been the topic for a couple of fairly lame international movie releases like ‘The Sea of Trees‘ (2015) and ‘The Forest‘ (2016).
5. A memorial to unidentified people who died in two big disasters
Ireido (Hall of Repose) @ 2-3-25 Yokaimi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo – In the midst of Yokoami-cho Park is this Buddhist style hall which is a memorial to those unidentified people who died in the Great Kanto Earthquake and the bombing of Tokyo in WWII. It was built to calm the souls of those victims.
Click on the following links to read previous ‘ ‘Dark Tourist (Japan Special)’ posts…