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jigoku understands that hell is a state of mind, not a physical place. the protagonist, shiro, is already there from the opening shot. he's stuck in his own guilt and inaction, forever doomed to play as a hapless pawn in horrible events he does nothing to stop. he descends lower and lower into unimaginable suffering, never letting a flicker of emotion cross his face until the very end.


The steam and hot spring water reach the surface at boiling temperatures. There are numerous boiling ponds, called jigoku (hells) and they are the main tourist attractions. For the hot spring baths, the water has to be cooled down to a suitable temperature.

Given such an abundance of hot steam and water, it's no surprise that a very special local cuisine developed: jigoku mushi (hell steamed). Dating back to the times before the Edo era (1603 - 1868), this cooking method is currently undergoing a great revival in Kannawa.

Visitors usually first encounter it in its most basic form out on the street close to the "hells". There, restaurants and shops have their hot steam set-ups out front: stone or concrete cooking spots called jigokugama (hell pots) into which steam is piped from below. Into the cooking spots, bamboo baskets filled with eggs, sweet potatoes or ears of corn are placed. You can buy the boiled products right there for a few yen. It's very tasty as the steam is loaded with minerals giving a very distinct flavor.

When you then arrive with your purchases at the Jigoku Mushi Kobo, you first have to buy tickets for the use of the steam cookers, the jigokugama, from a vending machine. It's all labeled in English and there are always volunteers ready to help.

While the Jigoku Mushi Kobo is new, the ryokan in the area have kept alive hell-steam cooking in the long term. The best place, perhaps, to enjoy old-style jigoku mushi cooking is the Daikokuya Inn, hidden in the deepest depths of steamy old Kannawa.

Daikokuya Inn is private. It has roofed benches to sit down at, it has only a few cookers and the atmosphere is much more relaxed. Here you can enjoy a jigoku mushi meal the way it was originally intended to be: freely drinking beer and sake with your friends, occasionally looking after the cooker, eating delicious things from time to time, smoking cigarettes whenever you desire to, in short, here you can experience the real Kannawa way of a good old-fashioned hell-cooker party.

Chistan hell really is HELL compared to these ones, since in christian hell God will torture you for all eternity, while in the worst possible scenario only in the 8th jigoku you are stuck for all time (and even that is not agreed upon) 041b061a72


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