Today I read Rashomon and other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The stories in the book are based on tales from Konjaku Monogatarishū. Each of the stories in Konjaku Monogatarishū start with the words ‘Now long ago…’ Does that sound familiar? These tales are the Asian equivalent to our many tales that start ‘Once upon a time…” or in a similar fashion. The original collection contains over 1000 tales from Japan, China and India that were written in the Heian period in Japan.
The tales that are retold by Akutagawa in this book are all set near Kyoto. While reading the tales I thought back to my visit to Japan earlier this year.
I actually wish that I would have read this book earlier in the year as I would have looked for a couple small monuments that mark places where some of the events in these tales took place.
The tale Rashomon takes place near here:The Rashomon gate is no longer standing. The gate was the southern gate of Kyoto at that time. There is a small marker that marks where the gate stood, but it is not well known. It is only a few blocks from where this picture was taken though.
This five story Pagoda at Ko-Ji is the tallest wooden structure in Japan. I love the street leading up to it. It is so picturesque. It was a rare snowy day in Kyoto and it was really neat to see snow on the pagoda roofs.
When the tales talked about events that happened in temples, I was able to imagine what the temples looked like since I had visited several of them in Kyoto. I have a few interesting pictures of temples and other buildings, but will restrict this post to just these two pagodas.
I always enjoy reading books that are set somewhere where I have traveled. It brings the story alive when you can visualize the setting from your own experiences.