Thursday, April 2, 2015

Animatronic Hell

Painting of Buddhist hell, Daihonzan Naritasan Temple, Kurume, Japan. 
The things you learn when you travel.

I had no idea there was a Buddhist hell. I first caught a whiff of it this week in Unzenonsen, Kyushu, Japan. Hydrogen sulphide, boiling water bubbling out the ground, steam.

It was Buddhist monks, back in 701 AD, who first spotted the learning opportunities of this place. Apparently there are 84,000 tortures awaiting wrongdoers in Naraka, Buddhist hell, and Unzenonsen is just the right place to reflect on that.

Unlike the Biblical version, you are born in Naraka, and it's not for ever. The experience clears you of all your bad karma, and you're ready to be reborn in a higher life.

My Unzenonsen room looked right out on this stuff. I reflected on the vastly more than 84,000 tortures in this world. We are blind to our own complicity when we enable politicians who deny the humanity of people who are not like ourselves.

Directly after Unzenonsen, I was in Nagasaki. Enough said.

Today I took trains from Nagasaki to Hita, a town that gives me quick access to some trailheads. Along the way, I changed trains in the town of Kurume.

Imagine my excitement when I Googled Kurume, only to discover the Jibo Kannonzou statue of a large motherly figure at the Daihonzan Naritasan Kurume Temple.

It's big, it's made of concrete, you can climb inside it. But, here's the kicker: there's an animatronic depiction of Buddhist hell in the basement of the statue.

Yes, a statue can have a basement.

I had to go.

Note: I decided the animatronic torture scene at the top of an earlier version of this post belongs under the fold.

1 comment:

  1. So now when someone tells you to "go to hell", you can say you've been there.