When Tokio Ozaka began his enterprise in a threadbare room with a few bottles of aspirin, people were laughing. But since those humble beginnings he became one of the most instantly recognisable names in all of Japan.
It was only a matter of time before someone would tap into one of Japan’s most popular past times, that of suicide, and the man to spot the gap in the market was Ozaka. Ozaka realised that suicide, not unlike getting married or having children, was one of the most important decisions one could ever make. So, he rented a room in a rundown part of Tokyo, namely the Sushito neighbourhood and rented it out to people who needed a private space to end their lives. From these humble beginnings grew an empire that culminated in a luxurious liner, boasting the famous Klub Kamakazi.
Ozaka worked hard to make his dream a success. He acquired more rooms and eventually moved operations to the affluent Yakamtaki neighbourhood near the emperor’s palace and started decorating. He reasoned that those looking for a place to die deserved more than a windowless room, a chipped glass filled with unhealthy tap water, a box of aspirin and a nile pan. He equipped his establishment with a variety of rooms including gimmicks such as “The Plunger”, a shaft where suicides could jump down onto a floor containing embedded spikes, a colourful room with a small packet of razor blades and some depressing literature, as well as a room for drinking an overdose of aspirin, which was the method now dubbed the Classic Suicide. Now this room boasted a comfortable bed, a view over the royal palace and a choice of popular Japanese funeral hymns to listen to. Despite a hike in prices and a time-limit, people streamed through the doors and exited through the back in bags.
Many businesses, like tea and coffin shops, stationary shops specialising in cards for suicide notes, candlestick makers, priests and monks offering parting words for a reasonable fee, and final meal restaurants flourished in the immediate vicinity, so not only could you find death, but coming here was also a great day out for the young and old. Suicide councillors set up shop, encouraging people to consider suicide, many being so good at their jobs that they, themselves, often ended a tough day in the comfortable setting of Ozaka’s reception.
Naturally, though, other people also wanted to cash in on this lucrative market and knockoff suicide clubs sprang up like poisonous mushrooms. Ozaka, however, upped the ante with a powerful advertising campaign. He made it clear that, if you wanted suicide, No. 4 Jujitsu Road was where you wanted to be. His club had a certain, like the English say, Je ne sais qua, something that the other clubs could not match. No 4 had truly become the envy of the suicidal world and as the other clubs folded, their owners knocked at the door of Ozaka.
Jealousy and false accusations, sadly, were as much part of Japanese culture as Geishas, sushi and suicide and one day a stranger attacked Ozaka in a narrow corridor behind the club and slashed his eye out. The police quickly caught up with the culprit, who said that he had purchased from Ozaka a home suicide kit that had malfunctioned and accidentally killed his mother instead of him and he wanted revenge. It was quickly ascertained that the kit was a cheap knockoff made in China and Ozaka said that he was not a vengeful man and would not take the matter further, therefore he instructed the most powerful lawyers in Japan to do it for him.
It was also during this time that Ozaka started having run-ins with the police. Making money out of suicides was considered disreputable and even the emperor became involved when he publicly condemned Ozaka during his annual Wild Cherry Blossom Holiday speech. The emperor became particularly agitated after one of his four thousand concubines, Muki Suzuki was wheeled out of Ozaka’s establishment in a black bag. Police regularly came to visit, and, despite a fair number of officers ending their rounds at Ozaka’s, he was often in trouble with them for seemingly ridiculous complaints such as serving sushi containing dolphin meat instead of yellowtail tuna in his club, and although there was nothing illegal or disreputable about his operations, lawmakers started thinking of ways to restrict his industry. Ozaka realised that the slow process of law making was grinding into motion and that soon the right to end your own life would become criminalised. It was strange that there was never an issue in Japan when people created as many lives as they wanted to, but when you wanted to end your own, no matter how miserable it was, total outsiders would take offence.
Eventually Ozaka might have had to suspend operations was it not for the death of his uncle, a billionaire Sumo wrestling impresario who choked to death on a piece of sushi and left him his fortune. That was when Tokio Ozaka bought the delisted navy battle ship and turned it into his luxury suicide paradise that he anchored just outside territorial waters. Soon people were ferried to the vessel from ports all over Japan and the phrase “Uzuki maka zuki”, literally translated as “just going down to the club” acquired an entirely new meaning.
The club boasted unrivalled luxury. Although the Classic Suicide remained popular – it was now hosted in a gorgeous room with saké for washing down the aspirin, a large queen bed, wall to wall carpets, large mirrors and beautiful music played from speakers concealed behind luxurious plants – the club’s real attraction lay in the wide amount of more memorable ways in which to end it all.
For adventurous souls who wanted to part with the living, there was the “Safari Suicide” experience, a large hall with exotic plants, marshes and pits where you could be devoured by wild animals of your choice, including lions, Siberian tigers, crocodiles, or mauled by rabid dogs. You could choose to be thrown into a tank replete with piranhas, or be glazed in honey and fed to ants or bears. And, if you fancied being trampled by elephants or devoured by a genuine Burmese Python, this would be the ideal place for you.
Another popular suicide option was one for history enthusiasts. Here you had a choice between the self operated guillotine, death by a thousand cuts, a firing squad with robots firing muskets, and an old fashioned electric chair. A further extension of this theme was the torture chamber, fitted out with anything from an iron maiden, a stretching machine, Chinese water torture apparatus that dripped acid instead of water, and numerous other ingenious machines and contraptions professionally researched and assembled to provide maximum satisfaction.
For travel enthusiasts there was the “Death Around the World” theme, which included a bungee jump without a cord, sitting down while an artist engraved upon your face a deadly Glasgow smile, or being fitted with the old gasoline drenched tire around your neck a la Africa before being turned into a human Catherine Wheel.
Japanese styled services included being whipped to death by young geishas, being chopped up by a samurai sword and turned into sushi or having a sumo wrestler fall on you from a platform. You could also dine yourself to death on the exquisitely delicious spindly pufferfish cooked by chefs not trained in removing its deadly poison.
The “Deluxe Death Suite” provided a luxurious scene for your final moments. This suite comprised an entire deck of the ship and was the most glorious. It contained a huge pool for drowning, even an indoor tennis court with a ball launcher that launched TNT filled balls, an electric guitar placed next to a Jacuzzi for rock stars to electrocute themselves, a sauna that heated you to death and also acted as a crematorium and a queen-sized bed from which a chandelier made out of knifes descended on the customer.
If you were a gambler, the casino was a great place to end your life if you were looking for a thrill. The one armed bandit used its arm to strangle gamblers, if you played blackjack and were handed a joker you were immediately beheaded by a clown and if you tried your luck on the roulette wheel you got killed if you threw any number between one and thirty eight. In this casino everyone was a winner and patrons were known to die with a smile on their face.
Of course many people love sharing their special moments with a loved one. Klub Kamakazi made sure that lovers were well catered for. The lovers’ suite contained a lovely King-sized bed, Jacuzzi, exquisite champagne from the far-flung provinces of France which was chilled to perfection and placed next to the bed along with crystal glasses, dark chocolate, beautiful music played by your own private chamber orchestra, and two double barrel shotguns under the pillows.
Sentimental fools ended their days encased in a block of cement or dunked in boiling lead so that their families were left with a fitting memento. For movie aficionados you could get yourself thrown overboard with your feet embedded in cement blocks in the manner of mafia movies.
The fact that Klub Kamakazi was a death playground for the well-to-do put it directly at odds with the community in which it was founded, and locals complained that Ozaka had forgotten his roots. These complaints were mostly muted, since all the club’s old customers were of course dead.
But there were also options for bankrupted businessmen, other not so well-off individuals and misers. The cheaper suicide options included being thrown into the shark infested waters, jumping off the mast or being ripped to shreds by the ships propellers. Tourists, who wanted to learn a little about Japanese culture, were encouraged to try Japanese themed suicides like hara-kiri or running into mock-up tanks carrying bombs.
Through the years Ozaka became incredibly rich and some may argue, quite vane. He contrived a scheme so tremendous, so awesome, so unbelievable, that it would secure his name forever in the annals of history. He planned the grandest, most spectacular, most glorious mass suicide the world had ever seen with himself as the star attraction. He was to replicate the flight of Japan’s most famous fighter pilot, Makko Mazako and crash his aeroplane, filled with deadly explosions into his ship bringing to a close a grandiose suicide party held on deck. The ship itself was to be laden with astronomical amounts of explosives and the scene was set. This is how it unfolded:
Ozaka ripped out the inside of his ship and filled it with so many bombs that he needed helium filled balloons attached to the ship’s hull to keep it afloat. He went as far as buying a huge payload of enriched plutonium from the French government as well as some other countries’ entire stocks of dynamite and explosives, which he crammed into the ships body.
Ozaka worked day and night to make sure his big day would be a success. He even learned how to fly the Japanese Muzzuka fighter plane from the Second World War and he calculated minutely how he would achieve maximum impact.
A carnival atmosphere reigned on the balmy day chosen for the occasion. Loud music played as the suicide crowd danced themselves into a frenzy on board the deck. Yours truly was aboard a specially leased boat anchored about twenty sea miles away, a distance we perceived as safe.
At round about ten to twelve, the Muzzuka fighter appeared in the sky. It was flying at about 250 knots per hour, limping slightly to the starboard side. Something was wrong with the aircraft or the pilot. It was struggling to reach its target. On board the ship of death, the chief officer, not unlike us, was holding his breath watching through a looking glass. The aircraft, heavy with ammunition was quickly beginning to bank steeply. It was coming in from a thirty degree right angle. The crowd, oblivious, trancelike, and mad with excitement, was dancing and swaying to the music. The fighter plane was coming in, descending sharply, but trying to claw its way above the thin stratus clouds. The crew of the ship held their breath, the crew on our observation deck held our breath, the crowd danced, and still the Muzzuka, struggling gamely with its excessive payload, came.
It dipped beneath the clouds, banking 45 degrees. It was less than a kilometre away from its target, but only about 200 metres above the surface of the water. The twin prop’s starboard engine failed raising the noise of the port motor to a tremendous screech, like a monster mosquito. The pilot became visible through my binoculars. Now I could only focus on the plane as it struggled to remain airborne. I saw Ozaka’s head bob frantically as he thrashed about with the controls: he was seconds away from glory or utter failure. The plane closed in, 700 metres, 600 hundred… 500 hundred, but it was flying perilously low above the waves, to my estimate only about 90 metres or so and descending fast. I afforded the crowd a brief, final glance before destiny and saw that they were unaware of what was happening, they were fully under the spell of death. Their ship’s crew, having dispensed of their looking glasses were ashen and marble faced, as they stood in deadly silence staring at the approaching plane.
Then, the port engine failed and the fighter entered a spiral, a graveyard spiral. Its momentum carried it forward, but only just. It was two hundred metres away from its target, but was only forty metres above the water. It was impossible to see the expression on the pilot’s face, but he must have thought that he had failed, when suddenly, unbelievably, one of the engines sputtered into life, steadying the plane slightly and lifting it about 20 metres higher. It was fifty metres away from its target, but suddenly the engine stopped and the plane plunged. It appeared as if it would land thirty metres short, but a final, grinding burst from an engine lifted the plane to about 10 metres above the water and it ultimately crashed 20 metres from its target.
This, however, was good enough. The forward momentum bounced the plane off the water’s surface and straight into the heart of the ship. Needless to say, Tokio Ozaka was instantly vaporised as one of the most powerful explosions ever reduced the ship and its passengers to nothing but fragments and shards. The explosion caused a tsunami that made our own vessel bob around on it like a piece of cork on the surf. The tsunami ended up killing several people on nearby islands and caused extensive damage. Falling debris rained down for miles around and a glass eye imbedded itself into our boat mate’s forehead, causing his instant death.
Thus, as we stood in breathless silence and as the mate’s body was disposed overboard, ended the existence of the famous Klub Kamakazi and the eccentric reign of its god, Tokio Ozaka and all that remained of him and his famous club was its legacy. Not only was he Japan’s most celebrated entertainer, but he also did a valuable environmental job, clearing the world of the carbon footprints of many individuals who didn’t want to live. The image of his aeroplane, something that looked like a wink from its master, and the calming of the sea, as if nothing had happened, will remain with me until the end of my days.