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Article by Ed
I’m not sure about you, but I really love exploring places at night time. At night time, there are fewer distractions in the form of tourists, cars, lights and sounds etc, so there is more room for your imagination to run wild! Plus you can really see and enjoy a shrine or temple at night when it's dark and quiet. There is a certain atmosphere once the sun has gone down. Japan is a very spiritual place and spirits/ghosts have appeared and featured a lot in Japanese folklore, Haiku (poetry) literature and popular culture since the beginning of records.
On this plage, you'll find places that I have explored at night. A few of them are very famous ghost spots, or as the Japanese call it ‘Shinrei Spot’ and are areas/ spots where ghosts have been known to appear or have been spotted often by locals. Basically, areas that are haunted.
►Access by foot? Yes
►Spooky Factor: 8/10
I start this list with a bang, a massive bang. Midorogaike is possibly one of the most famous and notorious shinrei spot (spirit/ghost/haunted areas). It is a large pond in the northern part of the city. A lot of people commit suicide in this pond, for reasons unknown. Legend has it that in the past it was a favoured suicide spot as its quite deep and hard to get out of in the middle. Poor families would throw their elders into the pond so they wouldn't have to look after them financially. A bit harsh. To make this place even more spooky, there is a forest on one side of the forest which we explored and let me assure you, is incredibly creepy. What makes it even MORE spooky is that there is a mental hospital on the other side of the pond. The pond itself is probably the side of a football/soccer pitch.
I have been to this pond twice. Both times, weird things happened. The first time I went with a friend and she became hysterical. As if she had become possessed, she was so aggressively insistent that we go into the forest, which I really didn't fancy. I had to literally pick her up and walk away from the area and she calmed down. The second time we came again and I brought my professional camera and took some dope long exposure photos in an attempt to try to capture something weird on the cameras. This is called Shinrei shashin, literally ghost photography, where apparitions appear in photos. Apparently however and have not yet figured out how to appear in digital photos, much like that grandmother who literally can't grasp the concept of an iPad.
Many years ago, when my mum was younger and living in Kyoto, she got together with some friends and went to the pond at around 3 am in the night to see what the hype was about. They were all pretty drunk and pretty nervous. They got to pond and noticed loads of people, mainly old people and young kids running around playing, in and around the pond, wearing old-fashioned clothes. They looked at each other and thought it was rubbish as there were loads of people there and therefore not scary. They went home and in following days, told my grandmother that it was a massive buzzkill as there were loads of people there at 3 am. To which my grandmother replied ‘don't be stupid, who the hell would be at a pond at 3 am, especially a bunch of old people and kids…’
►Access by foot? Yes
►Spooky Level: 9/10
If you fancy a really spooky nighttime adventure, then definitely go to Kurodanicho park. Its a large park with a bunch of temples and small shrines in it. However, the main feature is the Kurondai Cemetery. Tens of thousands of graves in different sections and areas make an awesome and really scary night time adventure!
A small Buddhist temple located at the south end of the park. Worth a visit at night time as the sanmon gates are immense and atmospheric at night. You can then walk from here to the Cemetery.
►Access by foot? Yes
►Spooky Level: 4/10
Kennin-ji as a historic and ancient zen Buddhist temple in the Gion/Higashiyama area, meaning it’s very easy to get to by foot if you’re in central Kyoto. The temple is one of the famous ‘Kyoto Gozan’, which translates as the ‘five most important zen temples of Kyoto’. It is a very beautiful temple and a great place to walk around at night time as it’s very atmospheric. The actual temple is in a small temple grounds/park type of area which is also nice to walk around.