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Parents use picture book of 'hell' to get kids to behave

A depiction of hell in the picture book "Ehon Jigoku" shows demons chopping up human bodies. (The Asahi Shimbun)

A children's picture book depicting demons chopping up human bodies and touting the message "Bad kids go to hell" has been flying off bookshelves and scaring the wits out of the kiddies.

Published by Futosha Co., "Ehon Jigoku" (Picture book of hell) has sold about 100,000 copies in the last half year, approaching the 110,000 copies sold over about 30 years through the end of 2011.

"Ehon Jigoku" was first published in 1980, but only sold about 3,000 copies a year at best. But sales took off after cartoonist Akiko Higashimura introduced it in her “Mama wa Temparist” (Panicky mom) manga, published by Shueisha Inc., in November. The scary book's reputation spread over the Internet and by word of mouth. The book was ranked the No. 1 selling picture book at online retailer Amazon.co.jp for the first half of this year.


“Ehon Jigoku” is the story of a man who does bad things and is brought to the Great King Emma Daio, who rules hell. Emma Daio shows the man his fate if he doesn't learn to straighten up and fly right, including scenes of chopping up bodies and being burned alive. After witnessing such horrific scenes, the protagonist repents for his past deeds and resolves to live his life as a good man.

“After reading the book, my child came to obey me,” one mother said.

"Ehon Jigoku" was conceived by Yukio Takahashi, former president of Futosha.

“I came up with the idea to tell children not to waste their lives,” Takahashi, now 81, said. “I wanted them to think about death.”

Takahashi used dynamic depictions of hell from picture scrolls housed at Enmeiji temple in Minami-Boso, Chiba Prefecture, and came up with the story under the supervision of art historian Tsugio Miya. The book was written by Nariaki Shirani.

So far, there has been no criticism that the book “is too brutal,” according to the publisher.

“My kids cry every time they see the illustrations," wrote one reader. "But for some unfathomable reason, they say they want to see them again and ask me to read the book to them.”

However, some scholars question the approach of parents getting children to obey them by showing them frightening pictures.

“It is too simplistic to get a result by telling children not to do bad things by scaring them," said Masami Ohinata, professor of development psychology at Keisen University Graduate School. "What's important for them is to go through a thought process of why it is wrong to misbehave.”

Hiromitsu Nakamura, director of the children’s education center at Beppu University, said adults should take children’s personalities into consideration, while admitting that parents have long used a threatening approach to get their kids to behave.

“I suggest that adult readers change their voice and communicate with children so as not to unnecessarily frighten them,” Nakamura said.


Source: The Asahi Shimbun

I know some kids that could use this...Arama, is this too brutal? Not brutal enough? How did your parents/guardians get you to behave?
Tags: cute, japanese culture
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