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Reviving Ancient Traditions in Kyoto

Photographer: Everett Kennedy Brown


Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan is mostly known for its beautiful temples, shrines and gardens. But it is also a city of mystery, ghosts and legends. Certain areas of the city are believed to be repositories of energizing power, while other areas are believed to be inhabited by dark and mystery energies that may influence the lives of passersby.


Some of the local residents are aware of these unseen forces and legends of Kyoto’s past and are active in promoting and preserving it. Behind closed doors this secret and ancient culture of the 1,200 year old city is still alive. They see their activities as the beginning of a new culture that may eventually find its way into the mainstream just as young people of the past once did. It is a world that few outsiders become privy to.


Many of them who seek to revive old traditions that were mostly ignored during Japan’s years of rapid economic development, are young creative people. They are gathering at a salon space, called Modoribashi, in an area of Kyoto famed for its ghost stories and legendary figures with magical powers.


The salon is owned by the necrophilia artist and art collector, Kento Watanabe, who opens his salon on the second floor of his old kimono and antique shop. On this second floor he has a gallery to exhibit his necrophilia art. There is also a salon area for gatherings and performances and a photo studio area where a growing number of young women come to have their photos made by Watanabe in traditional kimono.


Located near the city's imperial palace, the area is also called Modoribashi. It is one of the central areas of magic in Kyoto. The area is famed for its temple of fortune and the river that is believed to be a gateway between the human and spiritual realms.