This truly is a Hidden Path, what dark story can be discovered beyond this gate and down the alley?
Kanawa-no-i, a dried up well with a demonic story. It is said that by drinking water from a bottle and then pouring the rest of it into the well that women can force a breakup. As pictured below right, the entrance to the well and small shrine is through a sliding door and between two houses. Once going through the door there is a narrow alleyway and the shrine and well are at the end on the right. Please be aware and considerate of the residents that live in the houses around the well and shrine.
Kanawa-no-i is also featured in a Noh play titled simply, Kanawa. In the play, a wife cast aside and divorced by her husband prays nightly for revenge at the Kifune Shrine, Kibune, in the northern hills of Kyoto. One night the gods grant her wish by transforming her, dressing her in red, attaching burning torches to her feet, and placing a metal ring (a kanawa) on her head, turning her into a demon-ness. She directs her anger at her ex-husband and his new wife, which causes him to endure nightmares and severe headaches. Seeking a cure, the man goes to an astrologer and geomancer who lived from 921-1005 named Abe-no-Seimei. Abe-no-Seimei makes and gives the man straw dolls as effigies in an attempt to direct the demon women’s anger away from the man and his new wife, and into the dolls instead. Eventually the astrologer exorcises the demon by calling upon the powers of the gods, buddhas, moon, sun, and other celestial elements to stop her relentless attacks. Finally defeated and drained of her energies, she then makes an escape to the shrine where the Kanawa-no-i now stands and disappears down the well.
Curses or bad luck relating to relationship splits are a recurring theme Japan. Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama is another location where it is said that it is not wise to look back whilst crossing the bridge with a partner as this may cause the relationship to break up.
HIDDEN PATHS visited Kanawa-no-i before the current covid situation and restrictions, we advise visiting AFTER the current restrictions and advisories have been lifted.
Kanawa-no-i is in the heart of Kyoto City, nearest station is Gojo.