“In Tokyo one of the most popular festivals is celebrated on the day consecrated to Emma-o (the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters for Yen Mo Wang . The ceremonies in honour of Yama are attended by enormous crowds and are performed by laymen; the Buddhist clergy do not on that day, as far as I know, participate in the worship of Yama. A feature of this Japanese Yama festival are the religious plays enacted in tents erected for the occasion.
In China, Yen-wang or King Yama is certainly well known everywhere. I am told that his images are to be found in all the city temples which have been built throughout the country ever since the the Ming period. In the Tung-yueh-miao outside Ch’ao-yang-men, Peking, a terrible Yama image is also found. I have not, however, been able to find out whether a special festival is held anywhere in China in honour of Yama. His name is frequently mentioned by the Buddhist priests, who read the scriptures at higher-class funerals, and occasionally incense is burnt before the representations of the god in the various temples. I have searched for the special Yama temples which I was told existed in Peking, but in vain.
In Peking there are at least two streets called Yen-wang-miao Chieh, or “Street of King Yama’s Temple.” One of them is near the Government Printing Office. Many persons living in that street have been questioned as to the location of the Yama temple, which gave the street its name, but none could give a satisfactory answer. Even the memory of the sanctuary, which surely must have existed, had vanished.
The other Yen-wang-miao Chieh is just outside the Hatamen gate and the temple of Yama was easily located; but it was found that the temple contained no images. It had three years before been converted into a fire brigade station. This change will probably be acclaimed by many as another victory of modern science over the powers of hell, but it will be sincerely regretted by all those interested in comparative mythology.”