The Izu Gokurakuen (Izu Paradise Park) is a strange attraction in a popular hot spring in the Izu peninsula, which is filled with gruesome dioramas of the Buddhist hells that would give Stephen King the willies. There are hundreds of little mannequins and dolls having their heads torn off, their skin flayed, being boiled alive and forced to eat their own feces. After the hells, it’s off to the Pure Land, where we learn that the temperature is the same as in Hawaii and that there is no rent or key money in Heaven. It’s all based on a famous Buddhist text called the Ojoyoshu, the oriental equivalent of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The oddest thing about it all is that it’s run by a family who worked together to make all the gruesomely realistic museum and it seems to be a popular stop for tour buses full of middle-aged couples. The Japanese name is Izu Gokurakuen. ADDRESS: 370-1 Shimofunahara, Amagiyugashima-cho, Tagata-gun, Shizuoka, TEL: (0558) 87 0253, Admission 00 yen, Open 10:00-16:00, closed Thursdays. Also check for irregular closing times on the official website and their Twitter feed.


Editor’s note: this post was originally published in February 2008 and has been updated.