Stepping Out

I had a wonderful and rather busy weekend, now that we can finally go out again!

On Saturday, I was invited to visit a haunted house in the middle of Kyoto. I thought it would be fun and indeed, it exceeded my expectations! The theme was “abandoned school”, apparently that’s very popular in Japan, and a whole basement was turned into a dark labyrinth with black curtains and old lockers. There were mannequins and lots of severed heads with long black hair waving after them, and a coffin with a skeleton as the center piece.

Of course, if you go in there as an adult, you think: Oh well, how scary can it possibly be? But when you’re down there in the dark with nothing but a tiny flash light in your hands, navigating the corridors that get more and more narrow…. and then something comes at you from the darkness… It was scary indeed, and I needed a few minutes afterwards to normalise my heartbeat. Very simple methods, and very well done!

Sunday I spent working on a short story for an Austrian writing contest I wanted to enter. First prize would be 1000 EUR, but it’s very unlikely that I’m getting even close to winning this. I haven’t written anything in German for years, and it doesn’t have the right oomph to it if you get what I mean. Besides, I have the impression that they are looking for something more literary… Anyway, I had fun writing it, kept me sane in the last weeks.

And yesterday, I went all the way to Arashiyama in the western outskirts of Kyoto. In general, I don’t like going there at all because it is one of the most crowded tourist spots in Kyoto. Now, however…

I was there just before 10 in the morning, and I went to Tenryu-ji first. This temple is part of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage, but to be very honest, I’m not entirely sure why. I loved the dragon painting on the ceiling of the main hall, but it’s a modern one, around 25 years old only. The abbot’s quarters I didn’t find very exiting either. The gardens were nice though, and I spent time exploring all of it. They must be fantastic during the koyo, and there is an enormous weeping cherry at the center of it that is surely beautiful too.

Afterwards, I visited the Saga Arashiyama Museum for Arts and Culture again. They have an exhibition comparing works of Maruyama Okyo and his student Nagasawa Rosetsu, both painters of the Edo period. The museum is not very large, but the pieces on display are exquisit. I especially liked a Rosetsu painting, where he shows a single cicada on a bamboo; the insect has so much detail, you have the impression it might take off any moment.

Kyoto's Bamboo Forest, completely empty. Finally, before I went home, I took a stroll in the famous bamboo forest. As I said before, I dread going there because it is so crowded all the time, but this time, it was practically empty. I’m sharing one of the photos I took there, this was around noon time! I’m not sure if I should wish for tourism to pick up again (for business reasons) or to stay like this for a while (for my personal pleasure).

Speaking of pleasure: I will probably start posting here “full time” next month again. I hope that I will finally have something to tell you again, and more motivation to write about it too. Until then!