One of the entries for the 2016 WiK Writing Competition provides a perfect example of how the restriction of 300 words can be overcome by suggestive vignettes that tell a story in themselves. The suggestion here that ‘a tired old man’ has fallen asleep in the bubble years and woken in contemporary Kyoto is framed by the notion that the kimono-clad beauties are no longer those of maiko and geisha but tourists in cheap rental clothing. This evocation of a changing Gion was very much what the judges had in mind when shaping the competition.


Transience (by Peter Macintosh)

The evening sun begins to set. Along the river, now feeling quite tipsy, a tired old man closes his eyes and slowly fades into a slumber under the withering cherry blossoms….

The streets of Gion are bustling. You can smell the money. It is like the whole country had won the lottery. The spring air scented with expensive perfumes as the bar hostesses flutter past in mini skirts carrying designer handbags. Foreign street vendors selling knock off posters of Hollywood stars and over priced jewelry from India are on every corner. Targeting the “Gods of Gion”, to whom money isn’t an issue. Japan is on the top of the world.

Oblivious to taxis waiting for the big fares back to Osaka lining the streets, he and his underlings drunkenly maneuver between them. Heading into the backstreet alleys laughing in unison with two young maiko at their side, they disappear into the teahouses of the floating world, only to reappear hours later to continue on to karaoke, where drunken song will take them into the wee hours of morning. All of this only to be repeated the following evening and the one after that and the one after that.

….Awakened by loud voices, he finds himself among hoards of kimono clad women laughing and taking selfies. He smiles. Was he still dreaming? Then, he realizes that the kimono were not beautiful silk but polyester and the women weren’t even Japanese. Disheartened, he grabs his bottle, rushes into the busy street and just like the cherry blossoms, he is gone.