Friday, August 13, 2010
A few weeks ago we went to the far north of Honshuu, to Aomori, for a festival of the dead at Osorezan (literally "Mount Fear").
The area is known as the gateway to Hell, where the souls of the dead pass on to the afterlife. It is also known as the place where the souls of dead children wait for their parents. The children's souls are said to make new piles of rocks every day to keep themselves entertained. Parents leave offerings of windmills, snacks and money.
We left a miniature taiyaki, a sweet, fish-shaped waffle filled with custard.
It is also said you can communicate with the dead via mediums, elderly blind women who have been trained from a young age to speak to the souls of those passed away.
With all the sulphurous pools it was clear how the area got its reputation as the Japanese equivalent of the River Styx.