Paranormal activity in a Kyoto restaurant.
This post is quite different from previous entries in this blog because no specific location is given, though the location is known. It is also a personal story in that it involves events experience by a close friend. A set of paranormal events in Kyoto that happened in 2006, though the ‘haunting’ may well have begun a long time before.
The location was a kaiseki restaurant converted from a large old Meiji Era house just off of Karasuma Oike, central Kyoto. My friend worked the night shift, 7pm to 11pm, washing dishes in the kitchen at the back of the restaurant. After some time, he became aware of noises and activity coming from the second floor, directly above where he was working. He described it as the sound of people walking around on the wooden floor. A thought that crossed his mind was that somebody must’ve been living there. But as the restaurant was constantly busy, he never had the time to ask the other workers about the sounds. One particular night though, the footsteps on the floor above were louder than usual, “like there must have been kids running around going crazy”. He went out to the backyard, where the chef was as usual taking a smoke break, and saw that there were stairs leading up to a balcony on the second floor. He decided to finally take a look at what or who was causing all of the commotion.
Making his way up the balcony he suddenly heard someone shouting from below. It was the chef. He was irate and yelling at him to come down. A junior chef then came out and explained that “no one is allowed to go up there… ever!” The reason given for this was that "it's a different world to ours". It was then that he realised what exactly they meant. The sounds that he’d heard, that he’d thought were people moving around, were in fact being made by something not of the world of the living.
The incident was not talked about again and eventually my friend left the restaurant. Keeping in touch with the junior chef he did though hear later that the owner called in a Buddhist monk to conduct a ceremony to clear out evil spirits as “something bad was hanging around”. What exactly the evil spirits were and the history behind the disturbances remains a story untold. The second floor of the house also had narrow windows, possibly with some kind of covering on the glass making it impossible to see inside, adding even further to the intrigue. The restaurant has since closed but the house still stands today, and possibly still with entities from ‘a different world’.
This story of ghostly happenings is featured in the book PARANORMAL KANSAI Mysteries & Unexplained Stories of West Japan. Available from all regions of Amazon in Paperback and ebook formats.
Harae or harai is the general term for rituals of purification in Shinto. Harae is often described as purification, but it is also known as an exorcism to be done before worship. Harae often involves symbolic washing with water, or having a Shinto priest shake a large paper shaker called onusa or haraegushi over the object of purification. People, places, and objects can all be the object of harae. Whether this is the actual ceremony or part of the ceremony conducted at this restaurant is not known.