That said, the fact that Japan lends itself easily to the belief that there are otherworldly creatures hiding in the shadows means that night in Japan is creepier than night just about anywhere else. Japan is widely accepted to be safer than just about anywhere else, but then, I've never been all that scared of human threats. Personally I think I can be as scary or scarier than anyone else lurking in the dark...but possibly not anything. After all, who knows what the local population of demons is capable of?
Now. Another thing I love dearly about Japan is that there are things open 24 hours (although not to the same extent as Korea). However, when I got within a few blocks of the temple the streets were absolutely deserted. The shops were closed, and the orange sodium streetlights either cast everything into high relief or shadow. Caravaggio would have adored this night. I, on the other hand, was at least a little on edge. The cool night air and lack of tourists was wonderful, but the contrast between the bright lights and the deep shadows meant it was hard to be sure what I was seeing.
I mentioned Benzaiten before. I hadn't had much luck finding her shrines this trip, but in the dark of the Nagano night I came across banners for Bishamonten and Ebisu, so I figured there was a Shichifukujin meguri around, and when I looked it up back at the Unicorn hotel, I found that the shrine I was looking for not too far away on the shopping street. The next morning I woke up and went looking for it, but was sad to see the gate closed and locked.
I went around the corner, wondering if there was a side way in. There was...sort of. Most people don't realize that if you act as if you belong somewhere everyone will assume you do, but I wasn't quite willing to risk it. Squeezing between the wall and fence that I was going to have to manage seems like the sort of thing that would either end in me being grievously injured, cursed, or both. Instead, I decided that I would just enjoy the sunny, Children's Day morning.