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Rough ride: Drive-in haunted house in closed hotel to open in Osaka

This photo shows a drive-in haunted house where visitors can experience fear from inside a car in Naniwa Ward, Osaka. (Mainichi/Takao Kitamura)

OSAKA -- A drive-in haunted house will open on March 12 in this western Japan city, using a hotel that is currently closed and casting foreign residents in Japan as "ghosts." Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this is a new type of entertainment in which visitors in cars can get a terrible fright from the ghouls outside, without ever coming into actual contact with them.

    The venue is a work training facility for foreigners in Naniwa Ward, Osaka, that was opened in 2019 by Yolo Japan Corp., which operates a job-search website with 170,000 registered foreign residents in Japan. The hotel attached to the facility has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so its lobby was renovated and three passenger cars were placed there.

    A fictional murder case set in Naniwa Ward unfolds with the audio story playing in the cars. After each 20-minute performance, the interior of the cars will be sanitized and cleaned.

    Yolo Japan has partnered with the horror event production company Kowagarasetai for the project. Foreign students who have lost their income and foreign actors who have worked in the entertainment industry will be hired to play the roles of ghosts to support their livelihoods.

    The fee is 6,600 yen (approx. $62) per car and each vehicle can accommodate up to four people. The haunted house is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For more inquiries, please contact Yolo Japan at 06-6645-1750 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Takao Kitamura, Osaka Photo Department)

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