Category Archive for Art + Design

Satanic Goth Osaka, Japan! Buddhist Hell Temple Senko-ji, Demon shrine, Satanist Gothic metal Bar Midian, Farplane.

osaka japan devil demon shrine namba jinja

I think you can tell I had a hell of a time in Osaka, Japan! Around Halloween, I explored the most Satanic haunts in the city — including this demonic Namba shrine, Senko-ji Buddhist hell temple (there’s a video about my visit here...)

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and devilish Rock Bar Midian — a joy to reunite with owner Fu-Ki after many years! Read on for my in-depth Goth Satanic Japanese guide to Osaka. 

senko ji hell temple osaka japan

Let’s begin our journey through the underworld at Senko-ji hell temple, located on the outskirts of Osaka! I wrote about Asia’s bizarre hell parks and temples for National Geographic — in a nutshell, these are themed around gruesome-meets-kitschy depictions of Hell, as described in Buddhist mythology. Visitors to Buddhist hell temples like Senko-ji get to preview what it is like to suffer in the lowest realm of samsaric existence.

I descended into this temple of doom with Per Faxneld, one of the world’s leading Satanic scholars (he’s a Swedish professor/researcher/lecturer, and author of books including ”Satanic Feminism”). Check out our journey in this Insta reel as well.

buddhist hell temple shrine japanese devil satan

Although Buddhist Hell isn’t connected to the Biblical Devil, there are a lot of visual and narrative parallels. If you accumulate bad karma in this lifetime, you can expect to be tortured by red-faced, horned demons in the Buddhist version of hell, which look a lot like Satan.

satanic temple osaka japan senkoji address entry

How to visit Senko-Ji Hell Temple: from central Osaka, it’s about 40 minutes by train to Hirano Ward. This historic outskirt of the city seemed to be populated entirely by older folk, which inadvertently gave the area a horror movie vibe!

Address of the Osakan hell temple: 4 Chome-12-21 Hirano Honmachi, Hirano Ward. We entered through this gate found inside the decrepit Hirano Honmachi shopping arcade.

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You can visit other Buddhist hell temples throughout Japan, such as the hell museum at Izu Gokurakuen, and the hell cave at Kōsanji Temple in Kyoto. Generally, they’re filled with dioramas, statues, art, and interactive exhibits that communicate teachings of Buddhist hell — and give you a glimpse of the fiery fate awaiting sinners.

Many of these attractions are on the cheesy side — like these cutaway boards that let you pretend to be Enma or Yama, judge of the afterlife and king of hell! If you’re more of a “goody two shoes,” you can put your finger into the red thread “love knot” that binds you to the enlightened Buddharupa.

hirano senko-ji buddhist devil satan temple park

Senko-ji temple is part of the Kōyasan Shingon sect, and dates back to the Edo period (1603–1867). The popular hell hall was added in 1989. The monks and volunteers that run the temple are good-natured about the hellish elements — the head monk said my Satanic horns were “kawaii!” We bought a 100 yen ticket, which gave us entry to the Hall of Hell.

buddhist heaven or hell mythology asia inferno

We were intrigued by this push button gizmo that predicts whether you’ll end up in Buddhist hell. Answer questions such as “do you waste time and money” to see where you’ll be reborn in your next life!

To enter into the inferno, we had to scan the QR code on our ticket. Ominous doors slid open…

enma japanese hell king jigoku do hell hall

… revealing this rather Satanic scene! That’s Enma or Yama, ruler of Hell, with the”king” kanji stamped on his hat. Stand before him for your judgement and punishment.

japan buddhist hell park asia demons devils

We struck the gong in front of Enma — and it activated smoke, red lights, eerie music, and a glitchy video, much like in a haunted house.

Crouched next to the fanged red demon is Datsue-ba. As Per Faxneld wrote, she’s “an old woman who’s said to sit by the Sanzu River in the Buddhist underworld, torturing souls as they attempt to cross the river. Datsue-ba is believed to make adult souls strip off their clothes, and if they have no clothes, she strips them of their skin instead.”

asian hell wok japan demon torture sinners

At Buddhist hell temples and parks, the statues are are cartoonish yet graphic: you might see people getting their limbs lopped off and intestines pulled out. In Asia’s version of hell, there’s always a giant wok filled with victims screaming as they are boiled alive in peanut oil — see above!

senko ji osaka japan hirano demon statues theme park

We watched a 10-15 minute video that expresses the terrors of hell, especially the creative punishments awaiting those reborn into the lowest Buddhist realm of existence. At the same time, leave it to Japan to add some cuteness to the experience… The exit sign looks like a round, kawaii demon.

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Outside, you can also stick your head into this rock to hear the sounds of sinners screaming in “Hell’s Cauldron”. (Watch my reel on @LaCarmina Instagram about my Senko-ji visit, to see what it was like!)

buddhist heaven cave senkoji osaka japan strangest temples

Ironically, the realm of the gods is located underground at Osaka’s Senko-ji. We descended the stairs into a cave lit up with a giant LED rainbow mandala surrounded by Buddha statues. Take off your shoes, sit cross-legged and feel the power of chi.

buddhist hell demon statue shrine osaka

Senjo-ji also has this koi pond with a fierce statue of Ippon Fudoson (Fudō Myōō, the wrathful destroyer of evil). The watery mist at his feet add a theatrical element to the hand-washing ablutions.

japanese satanism temple osaka senko ji

I wore my devil horns and Satanic Bar Midian t-shirt to the temple. Senko-ji isn’t a popular tourist attraction, so there were only a few other Japanese visitors on the grounds.

If you’re curious about the evolution of Asian hell gardens (first built next to Buddhist monasteries to communicate concepts of hell) and how they evolved into massive, kitschy theme parks, check out my article in National Geographic.

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The “heavenly” section has peaceful Buddha statues wrapped in red cloaks… but there’s a demon lurking in the shadows!

fire rituals buddhist satan devil monks

If you’re intrigued by the Satanic side of Osaka, come to the Jigokudo or “hall of hell” of Senko-ji! I’d love to return to see the monks perform a fire ritual.

japan satanist temple shrine hell parks

As Per Faxneld put it, “It’s well worth the trip, offering a fascinating glimpse into the multifaceted ways that Buddhist groups may attempt to offer lessons in morality.” Watch our Instagram reel of SenkoJi to see video footage of this fascinating hell temple!

no face statue parco shinsaibashi osaka spirited away

Speaking of Japanese Satanists… I rode the train with No-Face (from the Spirited Away anime film) at Parco! This photo spot is located at Donguri Kyowakoku (Studio Ghibli Store) on the 6th floor of the Shinsaibashi department store. There’s also a photo area with Totoro holding an umbrella.

kaonashi no face spirited away sculpture osaka parco ghibli store

Per Faxneld and I fit right in with this naughty spirit. (If you haven’t seen the Spirited Away movie, it’s a must.)

Namba Yasaka Shrine lion mouth osaka

If you need more proof that Osaka is Satan-friendly… Here’s the devilish Namba Yasaka Jinja! The 1975 design of the Shinto shrine is retrofuturistic fierceness.

shinto ema wood plaques lions osaka

Although the shrine looks like Lucifer’s maw, Namba Yasaka actually represents a roaring lion. You can purchase themed special ema, or small wooden plaques, and write your wishes and intentions on the back.

Namba Yasaka jinja osaka demon face eating mouth Shrine

Rowrrr! I’m wearing an “ANOEL” faux fur shrug that I got at Laforet Harajuku because… well, how could I not.

fanged shrine demonic osaka swallow demons evil spirits

Osaka’s famous lion looks a bit like a dragon or demon. Legend has it that the fanged guardian deity swallows evil spirits (somehow, Per and I survived).

 The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama boutique hotel japan

I got to encounter more majestic lions at The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama, where I stayed. The hip, boutique hotel seemed designed for me: the lounge played disco music, and guests can pick up free moisturizing face masks and hair elastics, as well as enjoy a free drink for each night’s stay.

hotel room review The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama

After a long day of exploring, I was glad to unwind in my spacious room with lion pillows and a deep bathtub. The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama strikes the perfect balance for travelers — you get a cosy and artful experience at a great price.

Japanese hotels breakfast buffet The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama

The hotel is in a quiet but central location in Osaka, right by a subway station and next to a convenience store. And be sure to enjoy the breakfast spread, which included eggs, curry, and miso soup. Cheers to The Royal Park Canvas Osaka Kitahama for a marvelous time. #pr

satanic bar midian osaka fu-ki blood singer

Time to throw the devil horns at Rock Bar Midian in Osaka, a favorite watering hole for Japan’s Satanists and heavy metal headbangers! I was pleased to reunite with Visual Kei rock star Fu-ki, the former vocalist of Blood.

osaka satanist satanism bars heavy metal midian

As you can tell from the black-red color scheme and devilish decor, Midian is our type of bar. We listened to heavy metal (and watched music videos on the TV) next to Dracula wine bottles and Baphomet statues. Anyone can request a hard rock or metal song, and Fu-Ki will cue it up – and maybe belt along to it the music!

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Midian has a wide range of cocktails with Satanic names — I adore the Diablo, a black currant liqueur, lime and ginger beer mix.

black veil territory taiki dj satanist satanic bar midian osaka

Bar Midian also pays homage to Taiki-san, the wizard of Osaka’s Satanic Shop Territory and overlord of Gothic club Black Veil. Taiki sadly passed in 2022, but the subculture that he cultivated has continued on. While his shop Territory is temporarily closed, it will re-open and people can purchase occult / bizarre / dark talismans from the website. Taiki’s Black Veil parties also live on — there was recently a Halloween edition.

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Once again, even in an ominous Satanic space, we get some cuteness mixed in. (Funny story — I learned that several of the tattooed Gothic customers were hardcore fans of Miffy the cute bunny, like me!)

japanese satanist club bar midian osaka shinsaibashi

Rock on, Fu-Ki, for welcoming us back to Bar Midian. He speaks English, so I hope you’ll come to sit at his counter and bond over heavy metal!

osaka heavy metal bars music satan beer

Order a Satan or Devil’s Beer, and enjoy the rock metal gothic vibe at Midian. It can be a little hard to find, so look for the sign on the left, and head up to the 2nd floor. (Address: 10-16 Doyamacho, Kita-Ku Kano Dai-1 Leisure Bldg. 2F, Osaka)

farplane bar parco osaka fetish club

One more alternative bar before we go…. This is the fabulous Farplane. I went to the new location in Shinsaibashi Parco, but there’s also one in Amemura.

disco club bar osaka japan

Farplane puts you in a fetish cyber psychedelic space-age universe, with upbeat dance music to match.

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The bar is an extension of Farplane Night, a long-running Osaka party that draws in an alien-cyber-alt crowd. (Think colorful hair and latex dresses).

farplane night club nightclub osaka japan

Farplane started as a small alternative boutique in 2005. Although their universe has expanded, it says true to its cheeky-sexy roots.

osaka red light district clubs bars

The Farplane Parco bar (located in the basement) encourages you to get your freak on.

farplane bar osaka latex fetish fashion

If you’re in Osaka for Farplane Night, it’s a must — an enormous fetish party that might involve burlesque, pole dancers, eccentric performances, and S&M.

eyeball cocktails weirdest japan bars osaka strange

I tried the eyeball apple cocktails, to fit with the neon pop theme at Farplane.

osaka goth gothic fashion shops clothing shopping alternative punk boutiques

Some final Osaka Goth travel tips — check out the cute/Gothic/Lolita clothing stores at Hep Five and Umeda Est, as well the vintage fashion in Shinsaibashi. For more photos and guides to shopping in Amerikamura, see my previous post here.

osaka gothic stores shinsaibashi amerikamura goth vintage clothes

I encountered some devilish clothes in Amerikamura, and horns in Dotonbori (the street food district).

dotonbori osaka neon lights eater essential 38 restaurants guide

Dotonbori is known for its iconic neon sights like the Glico running man. This area can get packed with tourists, however…

.. which is why I spoke to Yahoo and Huffington Post about visiting less touristed destinations in Japan. I also wrote about unexpected items travelers should pack for Fodor’s, drawing from my experiences in over 70 countries.

hokkaido soft serve ice cream osaka snacks street food

Soon, I’ll be publishing an Essential Restaurants food guide to Osaka for Eater! Of course, I ate my weight in takoyaki and okonomiyaki, as well as Hokkaido soft serve… I love Kansai cuisine.

weird alien purikura filters strange japanese photobooth sticker pictures

I’ll leave you with the most Satanic Japanese thing of all… purikura! I think our filtered AI faces are more frightening than any of the devilish places in Osaka.

If you have any questions about Gothic Osaka or Japanese Satanism, let me know in the comments. And for more photos and videos/reels from Osaka, add me on Instagram @LaCarmina!

Winter holiday travels in Ottawa, Ontario & Outaouais, Quebec! Parc Omega wolf & bear suite, Nordik Spa Chelsea.

montebello fairmont hotel holiday christmas tree trees

Happy 2024! Let’s make this year the most amazing one yet.

I have a lot more Japan content coming your way, but let’s start things off with a Canadian winter / holiday season recap…

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In December, I explored Outaouais (Quebecois  region north of Ottawa) and Canada’s capital with Sancho Angulo! Read on for our “ice queen” adventures in Ontario and Quebec.

quebec fairmont montebello hotel lobby fireplace

How cozy is the enormous fireplace at Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Quebec? Built in 1930, the luxury hotel looks like a giant log cabin.

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In December, snowy Ottawa and Outaouais feel like a winter wonderland. The regions have charming European-style Christmas markets and events, which made Sancho and I feel as if we were in a Hallmark holiday movie!

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Even this Goth was feeling merry and bright at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Located halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, the hotel holds the record for the world’s largest log cabin.

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I enjoyed an eggs benedict breakfast with this snow-covered view, and a deep massage at the spa that got me in “serenity now” mode.

long hair rope curls bathrobe curl hairstyle

It’s a good hair day… time to explore the village of Montebello with Sancho!

le bistro montebello poutine quebec food restaurants

We had lunch at Le Bistro Montebello. The Quebecois family-style menu included bison steak and poutine made with local ingredients — oui, oui.

marche de noel montebello quebecois xmas market

Then, we walked over to the charming Marche de Noel / Montebello Christmas Market, which was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There’s no entry fee, and the neighborly staff greets you at the entrance with free cups of spiced hot mulled wine… We loved walking around and seeing the artisanal vendors, such as chocolatiers Chocomotive.

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I don’t get to do many winter outfits these days (due to The Collapse’s global rise in temperatures) — but I had fun styling my new Snowman New York coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses (which have a Y2K vibe).

snowman new york puffer coat long jacket black luxury

Snowman New York produces luxury outerwear with high performance materials and 90/10, 700 fill power down. I love how they create puffer coats that have a chic and non-bulky look, yet keep you warm in bone-chilling weather.

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Their coats are handmade to last, and insulated with highest premium down — you can tell that this is luxury outerwear.

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Love the sleek, lightweight, cyber-like design of Snowman NY’s long black puffer… I felt like a character in The Matrix. (My shoes are Comme des Garcons x Salomon collaboration sneakers, from Tokyo.)

adidas originals marcolin cat eye sunglasses OR0089 shades

My Adidas Originals shades (OR0089 ) are oversized cat eye sunglasses made from durable acetate: functional meets fashion-forward eyewear.

elf pub fairmont laurier hotel elves christmas popup bar

Back to my Ottawa Tourism adventures… “Sancho Claus” and I popped into Elf’s Pub, a Christmas pop-up bar at Ottawa’s Fairmont Château Laurier. Sip on eggnog cocktails, and feel as if you’re in the North Pole.

metcalfe hotel downtown ottawa lobby design decor

I stayed at The Metcalfe Hotel in downtown Ottawa, and the lobby was festively decorated — giving me a chance to pretend that this was my tree.

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‘Tis the season to eat and be merry. My Ottawa restaurant favorites included Metropolitan Brasserie (French tuna nicoise salad, steak tartar, and Sancerre and Chablis wine), and The Grand pizzeria. Sancho and I also feasted on Asian fusion like kimchi beef wraps at Sidedoor restaurant (above).

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At Ottawa’s Aviation Museum, you can board a “Flight with Santa” this season that lets you sit in his “sleigh” as you fly over the Canadian capital.

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Ottawa also has a popular Christmas market, and attractions like skating on Rideau Canal.

diefenbunker tunnel ottawa secret bunker hallway

I also descended into the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War museum. In the early 1960s, Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s government built this top secret, four-storey underground bunker to shelter VIP officials in the event of a nuclear attack. (It was decommissioned in 1994, and became a museum.)

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A tour of the Diefenbunker is a must. I was fascinated by the Cold War era technology and cultural quirks (there are early computers, and no plastic — but ashtrays everywhere!). I was particularly tickled by the food freezer that served as both a meat locker… and a makeshift morgue. (Or perhaps the two are the same, if  we run out of food in The Collapse?)

diefenbaker cold war nuclear bomb bunker shelter canada

The Diefenbuker also has an epic escape room themed around spies and nuclear missions. I can’t wait to come back with Sancho to slay the puzzles.

parc omega bison nature park ottawa

There’s so much to see around Ottawa… Sancho and I went north of the city to Parc Omega in Montebello, a nature park that lets you get up close to adorable Canadian wildlife!

parc omega quebec bears self drive animals nature preserve

Parc Omega has a car safari, or self-driving route that lets you see a variety of animal species along the way. Pick up a bag of carrots before you go…

feed deer carrots from car omega park ontario

… so that you can feed the cute deer and elk that poke their noses into your car windows!

parc omega montebello quebec park canadian wildlife animal encounters

Just don’t feed the bears like I did… (Kidding, they were in hibernation at this time of year.)

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How sweet are the animals, with their thick winter coats? Parc Omega lets you see them in their natural habitats as you explore.

short mongolian horses ottawa zoo park omega

Our tour guide taught us about the animals such as the short and stocky Mongolian horse, which was once nearly extinct.

parc omega wolf and bears suite cabin chalet

Then, Sancho and I checked into the Wolf and Bear suite for an overnight stay. The luxurious two-floor chalet adjoins an enclosure of young wolves and bears…

hotel with wolf pack enclosure park omega wolves

We got to wake up next to a panoramic window overlooking an enclosure of wolves!

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Sancho built a fire, and we watched our wolf neighbors run and play. As you can see from my Instagram reel, it felt as if we were one with the wolfpack.

parc omega bon restaurant montebello

Feeling “hungry like the wolf,” we headed to the onsite Omega Bon restaurant for refined dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients.

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We devoured the pot of fondue made with Montebello’s famous Adoray cheese, rum cocktails with maple syrup, and other Quebecois favorites.

nordik spa chelsea sauna restaurant food

Finally, we had a wellness day at Nordik Spa-Nature Chelsea — located at the entrance of Gatineau Park, and only about a 15 min drive from downtown Ottawa. Nordik Spa-Nature is the largest thermal spa in North America with 10 outdoor baths, 9 saunas, and a variety of relaxing treatments like a float in a saltwater pool, and a bewitching choreographed Aufguss ritual in a sauna.

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We indulged in winter cocktails as we soaked in a variety of steaming outdoor pools overlooking snow-topped landscapes (the onsen one was my favorite). Watch my video of our Nordik Spa day to see what we experienced!

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Still thinking about the food at Nordik Spa’s main restaurant, Restö — warm brie, mushroom toast, gnocchi with duck, I could go on…

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I spoke more about these experiences in a travel article for Huffington Post.

As I told Huff Post: “I predict more travelers will plan getaways to Outaouais, the region of Quebec located about an hour’s drive north from Ottawa. It’s home to one-of-a-kind nature experiences like Parc Omega, a wildlife park with self-driving adventures that let you get close to (and feed!) Canadian deer.” She recalled waking up to see a wolfpack on the other side of her window. “I also loved soaking in the steamy outdoor baths at Outaouais’ Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest thermal spa in North America that reminds me of the vibe at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon,” she added.

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My recent adventures with Sancho make me keen to do more cold-weather travels! It’s also an opportunity to do more winter styling: I’ll be living in my Snowman New York hooded coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses this season.

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Did you have a happy holiday? How are you feeling about the start of 2024? I’m manifesting more road trips, travel adventures with friends, and time in Japan this year… let’s make it the most amazing one yet!