A Visit to The King of Hell: Enma-do

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Along with Hell Valley (Jigokudani) being its most popular attraction, Noboribetsu is especially famous for its 11 demon spots where you are able to encounter a variety of powerful spirits (Meet all of them here: part 1, part 2). In this group of eleven, the most feared has to be Enma, the king of the underworld in the Buddhist religion. He is the god who judges whether the souls of people go to heaven or fall in hell.

It is believed that after we die, everyone will have to stand before the Enma, waiting to be judged and told our right and wrong. However, if you want to meet him in the carnal world, under entirely different circumstances, you will be able to do so in Noboribetsu. Merely a 30s walk from the Dai-ichi Takimotokan, the king Enma shrine, Enma-do, is built back in 1993 to mark the 30th Noboribetsu Hell Festival.

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A fun fact about the shrine is that the Enma comes to “life” on the hour, at 10:00, 13:00, 15:00, 20:00, and 21:00 every day. You will see the king of hell change facial expressions, and hear the chanting of the following:

「わしは、地獄の王 閻魔じゃ~!!
(I am the king of hell, Enma)
地獄の恐ろしさを知らぬ人間どもよ、
(For earthly beings who know not the horror of hell)
地獄に落ちたくなければ、行いを正し、善を積み
(mind your behaviors, accumulate your karma)
極楽浄土を目指すのじゃ~。
(aim for paradise and not hell)
悪行を重ねるものは、
(When you fall and commit sins)
この閻魔自ら 地獄の道案内をしてくれようぞ~!!」
(this king here will take you under!)

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Dai-ichi Takimotokan, Noboribetsu-onsen, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan 059-0595
Tel. +81-143-84-2111

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