While Midorigaike is also regarded as a bird sanctuary there was little wildlife, little life at all, to be witnessed on this cold January day.
The tales we'd heard about it before our visit probably didn't help. Locals say it has long been the most common place in Kyoto to suicide. Like the forest of Mt Fuji is for Tokyo residents. I don't mean to sound flippant by including something so serious in a blogpost however Japan has a long history with this issue embedded deep within its ancient culture - so much so that it tends to be spoken of as an "inconvenience" at times. It sadly can be to the millions of people who use the intricate train system daily - it only defaults from its time-your-watch-by-it runnings when "human incident" occurs. Which sadly plays out with regularity after under-parr university exam results are revealed and subsequent non acceptance into a large corporations are announced. They say to take your own life at that particular point of the year is preferential as it causes less shame to one's family. It is very sad of course but somewhat accepted. Or so I am told.
Perhaps evidence of the loss of life at Midorigaike is in the fresh flowers that are placed on the pond at various junctions.
The strangest part of all is that, once the police had finished their work and she'd returned home, she found a pair of shoes by her front door, filled with water.
Kyoto-ites speak of the paranormal and haunted spaces as matter o' factly as they might respond with the time. And I don't know one local who doesn't have a fascinating story to share - even when they say they don't believe in all that "nonsense" they will inevitably report that they have seen something that they can only describe as a ghost.... "only it couldn't have been"
The reason we'd visited Midorigaike is that I'd planned a surprise spirit hunt for my ghostbuster boyfriend's birthday (as one does...) and this was on our hitlist. We managed to scare ourselves silly of course.
At one point on the walking track we both stopped suddenly as the hair on the back of our arms crackled. The air felt heavy. Both us sensed we were being prevented from walking any further. A big energetic stop sign had been dropped onto our path. We turned back and scooted out of there as fast as we could. Paranoid perhaps... but we weren't ready to encounter any newly departed souls that morning.
Time to go home?
Dear spirits of Midorigaike, thank you for allowing us to indulge our curiosity for things we don't know much about...