Film set of Aum commune too real

KAMIKUISHIKI, Yamanashi Prefecture-Residents of this village at the foot of Mount Fuji where Aum Shinrikyo committed foul deeds were spooked to see cult facilities resurrected.

But it was only for show, as props for a docudrama.

A film crew re-created the notorious “Satian” facilities, where cultists manufactured the sarin nerve gas used in the deadly 1995 attack on the Tokyo subway system.

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The convincing sets, made of paper mache, will be dismantled Monday after shooting has finished.

Chizuo Matsumoto, 48, the founder of the cult, was arrested May 16, 1995, in a coffin-sized room hidden in the Satian No. 6 building.

The docudrama depicting the rise and fall of Aum will air Feb. 24 on the Nippon Television Network. The Tokyo District Court will rule Feb. 27 on Matsumoto’s fate.

“We wanted to get a realistic feel of the times,” said NTV producer Taizo Okada.

The cult had a number of facilities in the village, which reclaimed the land and demolished the buildings after the cult was declared bankrupt in 1996.

Village authorities had no qualms about shooting. But residents got a jolt.

“There was no warning, so it was a complete surprise,” said Shigeru Arai, 47, a dairy farmer who lives nearby. “It isn’t as if Aum came back to build them. But (the set) brings back bad memories of a dark time.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
Feb. 14, 2004

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