Japanese New Wave Religions
The late 20th century has seen the rise of many new religious groups (‘cults’ to many) in Japan, most notably the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out a Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995. These groups are often centered around doomsday predictions and are formed around an eccentric and charismatic personality.
One of the most bizarre groups to come out of this Japanese religious revival is Pana-Wave which was founded in 1977 by Yuko Chino. The group is made from a supposed combination of “Christianity, Buddhism and New Age doctrines,” many of which centered on the dangers of electromagnetic waves.
Indeed electromagnetic waves were seen by Pana-Wave adherents to be causing “catastrophic environmental destruction and climate change.” The danger from electromagnetic waves was so great that the group built a special Pana-Wave laboratory and began wearing only white in order to protect them.
Naturally the electromagnetic waves were thought to originate from communists who were attempting, in vain, to assassinate Yuko Chino, the cult’s charismatic and mysterious leader.
The Wandering Caravan
For over a decade the group sat in obscurity but in 1994 the cult began to gain notoriety as it formed a convoy of white vans that wandered around Japan searching for an area that was,
Least at risk from harmful electromagnetic radiation and away from power lines.
This journey was also undertaken to find a sanctuary for the ailing Yuko Chino, whose life the Pana-Wave believed held the universe in balance – her death was believed to usher in the immediate destruction of mankind.
Capturing of the Seal
In March 2003 Pana-Wave attempted to capture Tama-chan, a seal who had become a national celebrity in Japan for reasons that deserve discussion at a later date. Pana-Wave’s attempt failed and was rooted in their belief that,
The seal had been led astray by electromagnetic waves, and claimed that doomsday would somehow be averted if the seal was returned to Arctic waters.
The group was more than prepared for housing Tama-Chan with the two white-lined swimming pools they had built in a secret compound.
Not long after the failed capture of Tama-Chan the group was ordered by police to move from its roadside settlement. This led to a lengthy stand-off that only ended when three hundred police descended on the camp in riot gear.
The End is Nigh
Pana-Wave was now forced to again wander around Japan preaching that on May 15th of 2003 a previously unknown 10th planet would come close to Earth and,
Cause the Earth’s poles to flip over and lead to catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis which would destroy most of humankind.
They went from village to village searching for a safe haven from the destruction in their white vans that now included “swirl patterns” that were believed to ward off electromagnetic waves. TV crews were only allowed to film Pana-Wave if they were covered in white in order to stop the emission of “harmful waves.”
No town in Japan would accept Pana-Wave and they were rejected again and again by a country fearful of doomsday cults after what had happened in 1995 in the Tokyo subway. But, the Pana-Wave group survived because the apocalypse did not come on May 15th (or May 22nd, the second calculated date).
And with that failed apocalyptic prediction Pana-Wave faded into obscurity, leaving room for many other Japanese new religions in its wave.