Ok, big depressing description coming up for those of you interested in one aspect of how the Japanese pay homage to their deceased. I found this hanging from a tree near the lake. If someone knows exactly what it is, I would appreciate you letting me know.
Taken in Japan at Mount Osore or "Osorezan" if you are googling it. The Japanese believe this is the gateway to Hell and if you ever go, you'll see why.
Mount Osore contains the Buddhist River Styx, children who die before their parents are unable to repay them for gift of their birth and they are condemned here. They must build stone mounds (cairns) as penance but demons come and smash up the mounds and then torture the souls with memories of their childhood. Their protector is the Bodhisattva Jizo, he wears a red bib and cap, he drives the demons away and statues can be found all over Japan.
Visitors who take the pilgrimage to Mount Osore have often lost children themselves, they continue to build up the mounds, which are found all over the grounds. Pinwheels are set in the stand and offerings of coins (which turn black from the sulphur), chocolates, onigiri, beer, children's toys, candy, flowers and also straw sandals for the Jizo, so his feet can be protected as he walks across the sharp edges there.
Those paying homage will set down the onigiri, burn incense, open the beer and they pray and call out to the deceased across the lake, they then leave the incense burning.
I HIGHLY recommend anyone into bizarre and creepy things to go to this place if you visit Japan. It's an epic journey of multiple trains and buses but its worth it, many Japanese make this pilgrimage, its a special place.
It is a wasteland with overwhelming howling winds, with the exception of crows, the only signs of animal life are dead, the lake has been almost completely extinguished of life except for one species of fish called ugei. It looks like the surface of the moon, it's barren and it's sights and smells are repulsive, there are warning all over because of the poisonous gasses being emitted constantly. The atmosphere is very uneasy and it feels like something is not quite real about it. I love this place. You'll need a good stomach because the sulfur is overwhelming. It seeps out of numerous holes and rock piles and along with the bubbling sulphur streams, the whole package is just awesome. The streams are all shades of yellow and green.
There's a temple on the grounds and you can watch/listen to the amazing chanting and drumming a few times a day. It's truly an amazing sound. I did take footage of that, along with some of the winds and general eeriness.
During their festival in July, the blind female mediums (itako) channel the spirits of the dead for the public, this I did not get to see, being that I went out of season.[link]