The old gods wait for you in Japan –
the Shinto gods –
a hundred, hundred of them
in the trees, the rocks, the streams, the wind
but most reliably in shrines behind their Torii gates.
They don’t mind if
the neon lights draw you to Akihabara or Shibuya
where cartoon girls strike provocative poses
inviting you into maid cafes
while the Robot Restaurant brightly beckons.
The old gods don’t begrudge you ham and beer
or other refreshment
or games of chance.
They don’t mind if
you spend time at the Isetan department store
gazing at edible chrysanthemums
and thousand dollar mushrooms.
The old gods know
you might find yourself
in Kyoto at dusk sharing the street
with a geiko (known in olden days as geisha)
or kimono clad tourists
or fashionable street smart kids.
They simply sigh, the old gods, for all that is old, and all that is new –
for all that is false, and all that is true.
A night can glow in all times and places.
The old gods don’t mind Buddhist pagodas –
Buddha, they whisper, is only another form of us.
Amongst themselves, they confess
they are happiest in
the gardens of Tokyo –
the gardens of Kyoto –
and the bamboo forest.
The air is clear in garden and forest –
we can breathe, the gods say –
* * *
Thank you, Gus, for inviting me to join you! Thank you to Chrissy and Bill Hagerty and the Asurion team for the warm welcome. Sincerest thanks also to our wonderful tour guides, Rie and Masayo! For help organizing your trip abroad, try DAI Travel.
* * *
Japan is an incredibly sophisticated country in every way, but some things inevitably get lost in translation. Or just seem funny. Or brilliant!
Finally – no post from Japan would be complete without the dearest, darling –
* * *
Do you want to know Japan? Begin with this book:
Fun post to browse, Jennifer. Thanks for the delightful tour of Japan and the book rec.
Jennifer, thank you for the delightful tour of Japan this morning. Such a contrast between the peaceful greens of the gardens and the colorful street life and your prose which unites them.
I’m delighted to hear from you, Judy, and so glad you enjoyed the post! xoxo
What a magnificent adventure! Although I’ve never been (and want to go) to Japan, I feel like I’ve already been there thanks to this awesome post. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer!! The old gods await! ❤️❤️
Hello, dear Daphne! Sending all warmest wishes – and so happy to hear from you! xoxo
Dear Jennifer, It was delightful to have you at our home in Tokyo and to share the unique and wonderful culture that is Japan!
We loved and appreciated the time with you, Chrissy!! xoxo
They also love Kurosawa, but of course he is one of them made flesh from 1910-1998. Have a blast.
I had to google Kurosawa. Which film can/should I see? xoxo
Such a splendid visit to Japan, Jen! Such a huge city, but you seized the essence of it in this “the old gods wait” presentation through photos, poetry, and prose!
We did have a good visit, Mom! I know you enjoyed your visit years ago! xoxo
Enjoyed the tour of Japan. Thanks for sharing.
Hi, Aunt Paula! I’m so happy to hear from you, and I’m glad you enjoyed today’s post. I know you’re enjoying that new granddaughter! Love, Jen
Beautiful pics! Thank you for sharing this adventure!
Thank you, Sara! I’m thinking of you and want to hear about your new adventure! Including pictures! xoxo
Thanks Jennifer for sharing all of the lovely pictures and wonderful comments.
I feel so lucky to have had the chance to visit! I know you’ve enjoyed your time there so much! Thank you for being in touch, Ruth. xoxo
Jennifer, your beautiful writing of the old gods is inspiring.
Thank you so much, Hope! And – it was a pleasure to see you a couple of weeks ago! xoxo
Jen, your words are so resonant and as rich as these photos! I want to go to Japan, and I want a photography class with you!
Thank you so much, dear Lyn! xoxo
Hi Jennifer, Thank you for the link. I enjoyed your prose and pictures! It’s very interesting to see Japan through your eyes. Please come back. The old gods are waiting for you 🙂
I’m so happy to hear from you, Masayo! I can’t wait to come back! I am enchanted. Thank you for taking such good care of us and sharing so much about your beautiful country. xoxo