Shoko No More

Not a great weekend for Shoko Asahara. The half-blind tatami mat storekeeper’s son-cum-most hated cult leader in Japan received news of his unalterable death sentence on Saturday. Notorious for orchestrating the Tokyo subway gas attacks of spring 1995, the sleepy-eyed, almost cuddly but very creepy man will be hanged, though nobody but the executioner and his gang know when. (Read more about the death penalty in Japan.)

Here’s a tribute to the marvelous world of Aum Shinrikyo that once was but is no longer.


Members paid to drink Asahara’s bathwater and blood.

Asahara used his telepathic abilities to brainwash Aum members. This was the defence used (unsuccessfully) by some of those who stood trial.

Some followers spent several hours a day wearing the “Perfect Salvation Cap”, which is special leather headpiece attached to a 6-volt battery. As well as keeping their heads warm, this helped them stay in telepathic contact with Asahara.

Aum apartments featured rooms lined with tin foil “to keep out electro- magnetic waves”. That must have been a pain if you wanted to use your Perfect Salvation Cap.

Female cult members were almost entirely attractive young women. To help them focus on spiritual enlightenment, Asahara coerced some into having sex with him. He was probably helped by the fact they weren’t allowed to have sex with anyone else.

Aum was manufacturing LSD and using it in cult rituals. Asahara toyed with the idea of flying an LSD-loaded crop-duster over rush-hour Tokyo.

(courtesy of Japan Reference)

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