Cristy Burne


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Enma Daio, Datsue-ba, and one great reason to die with your clothes on

Want to catch a glimpse of what your afterlife might be like if you don’t behave properly? Check out this great You Tube introduction to some scary supernatural types who make their home right in the centre of Tokyo, Shinjuku, in a temple called Taiso-ji (built in 1596).

The big scary guy at the back is Enma Daio, also known as King Yama, the ruler of hell. On his left-hand-side you can spot the big pincers he keeps on hand for pulling out your tongue if you dare to tell a lie.

On his right-hand-side sits his sidekick Datsue-ba, an old woman in charge of measuring people’s sins as they try to cross the river into the afterlife. When you meet her, she’ll strip you of your clothes and weigh them: the weight of your clothes is  proportional to the weight of your sins and you are sentenced accordingly, so watch out.

And don’t think you can turn up naked and skip the whole weighing thing: she’ll strip you of your skin if that’s all you’re wearing.

Strictly speaking these two aren’t really supernatural yokai, but more religious figures from Buddhism. However, in his prime position at the gateway to the old city of Edo, the super-scary Enma Daio plays another role: he scares away dangerous demons, thus protecting the city from the hordes of yokai out to make mischief. It’s a tough job, but he’s obviously qualified.