Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds (鈴ヶ森&小塚原)


2019.08.25

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

Suzugamori in Shinagawa and Kozukappara in Minami Senju are two of the darkest places in the city. These are the remains of execution grounds run by the shogunate.

Just to give you an idea of how dark it got, the most humane form of execution was beheading. The condemned, with hands tied behind their back, would kneel before a pit and bow down, holding their head over the hole. The executioner would swing down and the head would fall into the pit while the blood would drain out. The criminal’s head was then washed and put on display – the shogunate’s way of saying “don’t do it again.”

Another fun way to go was being locked up in a box with only your head exposed. The box was then rolled into a high traffic area, for example, Nihonbashi, where everyone could see you. They could slap you, hurl insults at you, and spit at you if they felt like it.

After two nights and three days of exposure and humiliation, you’d be paraded through the streets back to the execution ground, crucified naked – exposed for all to see. You’d only receive mercy when two executioners arrived to slit your throat. The body would remain on display for 3 days as a gentle reminder.

  • Real estate around the executions grounds has traditionally been cheap since they’ve been defiled by death and are haunted by the ghosts of Edo’s worst criminals.

    For years, the people associated with that area were stigmatized. The area still gets mentioned quite frequently in historical fiction samurai movies, so its reputation persists to this day.

    As such, these places attract visitors with an interest in the macabre, or people who hope to encounter ghosts. The locals, on the other hand, bring daily offerings of flowers and sake to appease the restless spirits of the executed. The last thing they need is to be haunted by a executed criminal.

    Suzugamori is the most well known execution ground and the killing floor is still preserved. Today it’s littered with Buddhist monuments erected in attempt to keep the ghosts at bay.

    You can see the stone bases used to hold stakes in place for burning prisoners alive. A well known legend among lovers of Tokyo’s darker history says that you can see ghosts if you take a few pictures of the well that was used for cleaning blood off the decapitated heads.

    But you have to take the pictures at night...

    Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

    Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

    Kozukappara is notorious for the number of executions from 1651 to 1873. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 people were executed here.

    Every execution was carried out in front of a large Buddhist statue called "Head Cut Jizo, meaning that it was the last thing you would see before you died. A street in front of the station still has the nickname "Bone Street" because it was littered with bones discarded by animals that had dug up the shallow graves to feed on decaying human flesh.

    Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

    Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

    Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

    Suzugamori & Kozukappara Execution Grounds

    Kozukappara Execution Grounds
    place
    Tokyo Arakawa-ku Minami-senju 2-34-5
    phone
    0338023111
    opening-hour
    [Enmei-ji Temple] 9:00-17:00…

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