A Visit to The King of Hell: Enma-do
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.
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:
(I am the king of hell, Enma)
(For earthly beings who know not the horror of hell)
(mind your behaviors, accumulate your karma)
(aim for paradise and not hell)
(When you fall and commit sins)
(this king here will take you under!)