Kings of Hell

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Kings of Hell


The Ten Kings; Ten Judges of Hell



The Ten Kings of Hell are afterlife judges. They derive from Chinese Taoist tradition, filtered through Japanese Buddhism:

• Those who’ve clearly lived exemplary lives travel to Paradise when they die

• Those who have been clearly wicked travel to a punishment realm

But what of those whose actions are more ambiguous? Those who may have performed both good and bad deeds while alive? Where do they go? That’s for the Kings of Hell to decide. The Kings of Hell preside over a series of afterlife trials intended to determine the fate of the dead soul. The person’s actions while alive, both positive and negative, are weighed, analyzed and discussed. Jizo serves as the defense attorney for dead souls and always attempts to present human actions in the best possible light. Final outcome however is up to the Kings of Hell. Although few look forward to meeting the Ten Kings in person, they are a popular subject of Japanese art.


Amida Buddha; Datsueba; Enma; Jizo; Ksitigarbha


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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