Shinto Dolls Used in Horror Attraction are Misleading

Universal Studios Japan receives protests over a Shinto doll Halloween attraction.

Every Halloween, Universal Studios puts on a special show, dubbed Halloween Horror Nights, for all its patrons at its Hollywood, Florida, Singapore, and Japan locations. The attractions are special because of their limited time offering and because of their spooky nature.

This Halloween, Japanese patrons were presented with the Death Eaters at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter zone. However, another new attraction, “Tatari: Curse of the Living Dolls,” managed to draw in a little more attention than usual.

This exclusively Japanese attraction was unveiled on September 10, 2016. It showcases a range of Shinto dolls, which are generally celebrated for being fine works of art. However, Universal Studios and a lot of others believe that the dolls do have a certain “creepiness” to them, which makes them perfect for a horror-themed attraction.

In fact, this particular attraction carries the studio’s highest terror level rating and anybody under the age of 12 is barred from entering the area.

The idea of a horror attraction centered on Shinto dolls hasn’t gone down well with some groups. The Japanese Doll Association has sent out a letter to Universal Studios Japan stating that the use of the dolls to “scare” people threatens the industry that manufactures these dolls.

The association believes Universal Studios’ portrayal of the dolls as “scary” or “cursed” is creating a negative image which can be misunderstood by the average person. They also added that the attraction hurts traditional culture.

What annoyed the association even more is the dolls were loaned to Universal Studios by the Awashima Shrine in Wakayama. The shrine is known to house a massive collection of such dolls that were mostly donated. The association has a problem with the shrine as well because even they have managed to present the dolls as something supernatural and that is, apparently, bad for business.

Universal Studios Japan has responded saying it had no plans of canceling the attraction, which has been open throughout the Halloween season. The company claims there is no legal ground on which the association’s protest stands and says the attraction will continue as scheduled.

Universal Studios is however, willing to consider the association’s letter as “valuable feedback.”

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter