Category Archive for Tokyo + Japan

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...)

fuki blood j-rock metal band singer bar

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.

asian buddhist hell park japan king underworld buddha

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.

japan weird bizarre shrine put head in rock hole

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.

buddhist heaven hell park osaka japan buddhism

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!

bar midian visual kei jrock metal bars osaka

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.

bar midian alcohol osaka rock bars

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.

latex fetish bars osaka weirdest bar

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!

Puroland Halloween: Tokyo’s Sanrio Hello Kitty theme park! Yayoi Kusama Museum, Takashi Murakami cafe Zingaro.

kuromi mascot meet and greet character photos puroland halloween

We met Kuromi! Welcome to the best day ever at Sanrio Puroland, Tokyo’s Hello Kitty theme park.

Read on for our fever dream-like visit to Puroland, along with other adorable pop culture and art attractions in Tokyo — including the Yayoi Kusama Museum, and Takashi Murakami’s Nakano cafe (Coffee Zingaro!). And I’ll show you inside my boutique hotels, The Royal Park Canvas Ginza Corridor and Ginza 8 (#PR).

meet hello kitty puro land sanrio amusement park

Did you know Tokyo has a Hello Kitty amusement park? Located at Tama Station, Sanrio Puroland is a kawaii dreamland filled with your favourite mascots.

As you can see in my Insta video, the park had special events, food and merch for “Puro Halloween” throughout October. (They have various seasonal celebrations year-round.)

exterior puroland rainbow gate tama station

It’s easy to get to Puroland – from Shinjuku, it’s about 30 minutes to Keio Tama Center Station on the Keio Line, or Odakyu Tama Center on the Odakyu Line. Take a short walk and you can’t miss the bridge to the rainbow entrance.

kuromi halloween stuffed toys plush

For Halloween, the theme park released special edition spooky goods starring Kuromi, the impish skull-wearing rival of My Melody.

kuromi devil satanic hello kitty character evil

Kuromi is a favorite among Goths, of course… although all the Sanrio characters look fab dressed in witch hats and Gothic Lolita dresses!

puro halloween hello kitty land tokyo japan

Sanrio Puroland opened in 1990, and has been popular with fans ever since. Many dress up as their favorite characters to visit the indoor park.

cinnamonroll theme park rides puroland ride

Puroland only has a few rides, and lines can be long — so we opted to simply walk around and enjoy the cute shops and photo-locations, like this Cinnamonroll fuzzy bus.

hello kitty theme park attractions events show

Of course, you can’t miss the gift stores, which are decorated to the nines (like this balcony with a Hello Kitty royal wedding).

puroland food court restaurants

The food area serves dishes themed after the mascots, of course.

kuromi themed food cute kawaii curry rice puroland

For Halloween, Puroland had these Kuromi and My Melody curry dishes, with ham and cheese cut-outs… Let’s just say this looks cuter than it tasted!

kuromi puroland tickets entry visitor guide goth

If you’re a fan of the Hello Kitty universe, you can’t miss Sanrio Puroland when you’re in Tokyo. Check out their site for opening tours, tickets, and more.

Thank you to Puroland for the press passes — it was a dream come true to hug Kuromi!

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza corridor hotel review lobby

Tokyo is currently packed with tourists; in fact, visitor numbers now exceed pre-pandemic levels. Photographer Joey and I were glad to get away from the crowds — while also getting an artistic experience — by staying at The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza Corridor.

The boutique hotel’s sophisticated design is inspired by the flow of alcohol at Ginza Corridor, a lively street of small bars and restaurants that can be viewed from the balcony. The party continues in the hotel lobby, which often hosts live DJ performances until the early hours.

ginza boutique hotels The Royal Park Canvas corridor bar

The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza Corridor cotains three bars, including one that specializes in Prosecco, and one with an impressive selection of Japanese liquor. I enjoyed the shiso umeshu (plum wine), and using this mallet to crack open this mini sake barrel.

The spacious, modern rooms also have design elements that pay homage to drinking culture, like metallic champagne bubble motifs over the windows.

japanese bar curtains royal park tokyo hotels

Loved the chic decor and convenient location of The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza Corridor. The hotel is only a short walk from Ginza and Shimbashi stations, as well as high end fashion boutiques, art attractions, and fine restaurants.

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 lobby

We also stayed at The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza 8, which featured cozy, hip spaces that encourage you to mingle. The music lounge contained an extensive vinyl collection for guests to listen to.

japanese breakfast The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 hotel review rating

We had a Japanese breakfast to remember at Opuses restaurant, on the top floor. I tasted small, artistic dishes (grilled fish, rolled egg, stewed vegetables) while looking out at the terrace.

The Royal Park Canvas - Ginza 8 luxury hotel tokyo japan

Here’s the long lobby bar / cafe at The Royal Park Canvas – Ginza 8. You can sip on cocktails or mocktails, and a variety of tea — but of course, I went straight to the bottles of yuzu (Japanese citrus juice, my fav). Thank you to both hotels for the sublime stays. #PR

yayoi kusama museum entrance sign shinjuku

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you’ll know that I will take any opportunity to see artwork by Japanese avantgarde legend, Yayoi Kusama (famous for her polka dot pumpkins and Infinity Mirror Rooms). And so, I made a pilgrimage to the Yayoi Kusama Museum, a permanent space dedicated to her work (located near Waseda and Takadanobaba stations, in Shinjuku Ward).

Founded in 2017 by the artist herself, the Yayoi Kusama Museum presents rotating exhibitions that lets visitors get a glimpse of her visionary world.

tokyo japan yayoi kusama museum exhibitions events paintings tentacles

Yayoi Kusama has been making waves in the art world from the hippie-era 1960s to the present. The Tokyo museum’s sleek architecture beautifully frames her brightly colored, pop-meets-surreal paintings and sculptures. 

Note that to visit the museum, you must purchase a timed 90-minute ticket in advance from their website. Photos are only allowed on several floors.

yayoi kusama museum sculptures tokyo japan exhibit

I especially loved the open-air rooftop, which encourages you to engage with her large-scale art. Under the blue sky, Yayoi Kusama’s flower appears to bloom towards the camera! On another floor, I admired “Visionary Colors” – a selection of her colorful paintings that meditate on peace and love, inner struggles, and oneness/liberation through “self-obliteration.” 

yayoi kusama obliteration room tokyo japan art museum

Kusama has experienced hallucinations throughout her life, which have inspired installations like “I’m Here, but Nothing.” I spent a few minutes inside this trippy bedroom illuminated with glowing UV polka dots – it made me want to have a disco party! 

Get immersed in her art at Tokyo’s Yayoi Kusama Museum. Check their site for ticket info, as well as special events such as lectures.

cafe coffee zingaro nakano takashi murakami

Finally, let’s pop into artist Takashi Murakami’s cafe, Coffee Zingaro in Nakano! Go to the second floor of Nakano Broadway, and you can’t miss his smiling rainbow flowers lit up in neon lights.

takashi murakami theme cafe artist hipster coffee zingaro

The coffee shop is the brainchild of renowned Japanese contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami. The café is a wonderland of his poppy, colorful artwork inspired by manga, anime, and kawaii culture.

food at coffee zingaro murakami themed burgers desserts

At Coffee Zingaro, everything on the menu looks like a Murakami painting. I tried the ham sandwich, latte, and pumpkin muffin — all of the food was stamped with his smiley flower mascot. and came with an Arigato sticker.

coolest interiors instagrammable cafe restaurant tokyo zingaro

I felt as if I was inside one of his whimsical, colorful paintings. The tables at Coffee Zingaro double as gaming consoles, so you can play retro video games like Mario Bros and Donkey Kong while you eat.

takashi murakami muffin smiling rainbow flower light zingaro nakano

The moist pumpkin muffin was one of the best I’ve had — and was certainly the cutest!

Bite into one at Coffee Zingaro inside Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway (2F). Also check out artist Takashi Murakami’s nearby Hidari and Tonari no Zingaro art galleries.

sanrio puroland gothic kuromi mascots サンリオピューロラン

No matter how many times I visit Japan, I never tire of the whimsical art and slightly bizarre attractions. Would you visit the Hello Kitty theme park, Puroland?

To see these cute mascots in action, I hope you enjoy the reels and more photos on @LaCarmina Instagram. Thanks for the add, and more soon!