“Hell on Earth” … well, not quite


Osorezan! “The Mountain of Fear.” Ain’t it quaint. It was the first stop on my recent tour of northern Japan with Curzon (who’s still wandering around the back roads of Hokkaido).

Although some misguided websites call it a mountain, it’s actually a temple in a valley surrounded by mountains. The temple is surrounded by rocky terrain lying atop a very sulfuric hot spring, which releases smelly gas from vents in the ground.

When pre-modern types saw this, they assumed that they were seeing spirits escaping the underworld. So legend has it that this is a natural gateway to Hell, and many pilgrims come to leave little offerings for the dead. One common sight around the hot springs is little stone statues dressed in children’s clothes–memorials to dead young’uns.

Anyway, if this is what going to Hell looks like, maybe I need to maintain my life of evil…

3 thoughts on ““Hell on Earth” … well, not quite”

  1. Quick clarification: the “dead young’uns” you refer to are overwhelmingly 水子, or aborted or miscarried fetuses. Eerie indeed.

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