the Shinto gods –
a hundred, hundred of them
in the trees, the rocks, the streams, the wind
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 –
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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: