Dark Tourist Episode in Japan
The Netflix Original Dark Tourist follows New Zealand journalist, David Farrier, as he travels the world seeking tourist attractions that draw in people due to their danger or darkness. The show is very informative, but it also includes the personal opinions and experiences of David and his crew. There is currently one season of the show, and the second episode of this season focuses on dark tourism in Japan. David takes us to various places such as a radioactive town, a hotel run by robots, the suicide forest, and an abandon island city.
Nuclear Tourism in Fukushima
First, David takes us to Fukushima, the site of a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that caused the Daiichi nuclear station to explode and leak radiation. This explosion and radiation leak resulted in the death of over 20,000 people and the evacuation of the entire area. David takes us on a tour bus where he and other foreign tourists grow more anxious about the radiation levels throughout the day, constantly checking their pinging indicators. Even the areas that were not destroyed by the tsunami were touched by the earthquake and dangerous radiation, resulting in a desolate urban area that David experiences as quite chilling. The Japanese government appears to be trying to encourage people to move back into safe spots in the area, doing so by hiring entertainers and opening restaurants. However, the radiation
continues to be a concern, but also allows tourists to feel thrilled by the danger of it. The Japanese government was not very happy with this part of the episode, as they felt that the conversation of food grown in the radioactive area was offensive.
Henn Na Hotel: Robot Hotel
David then stays the night in a towel run entirely by robots, the Henn Na Hotel in Sasebo. Upon arrival he is greeted by robot receptionists. His room is accompanied with his own personal robot, which doesn’t seem to follow commands very well. This robot can speak to him and serve as an alarm in the morning. The hotel is located in the middle of a replica of a 17th century Dutch town, which to David feels a bit odd but is beautiful.
Jukai Forest: Suicide Forest
Located in the northwestern slopes of Mount Fuji, the Jukai Forest is called the “suicide forest” due to the amount of bodies found there per year often adding up to over 100. Davide takes us to this magnificent yet eerie forest, and shows us the seemingly endless sea of trees. Jukai Forest became romanticized as a spot to commit suicide after popularity of the 1960s novel The Black Sea of Trees which has a plot similar to Romeo and Juliet. David and his group luckily do not stumble across a body, but do spot a make-shift noose hanging from the branch of a tree. David and his guides Jake, Yo, and Noriko all speak of feeling and believing in spiritual presences in the forest, and warn David to be very aware. Overall, David’s experience in this vast and enchanting forest is unnerving and intriguing.
Lastly, David takes us off the coast of Nagasaki to the former coal mining city of Hashima Island. While now completely abandoned, 60 years prior it was considered the most densely populated place on earth with over 5.5 thousand people living on the small island. David meets up with some former residents of the island, who recount their lives living in Hashima. The standard of living on the island was crowded but good, as there were schools, job opportunities, and Shinto shrines. The coal mine lay underneath the island, and the former residents blame Hashima’s abandonment on the closing of the mines in the 1970s, in which all the residents fled the city within a week. David wanders the ghost city and thinks of the lives that must have once filled the space. David ends his time in Japan having successfully visited a variety of dark spots of the country.