The Majesty of Japan

Kamogawa River

As some of you know, I often travel to Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan and an unlimited source of cultural treasure. 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Kyoto and I have been to all of them several times. These include Kamogamo, Shimogamo, and Ujigami Shrines, To-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Enryaku-ji, Daigo-ji, Ninna-ji, Byodo-in, Kozan-ji, Koke-dera, Tenryu-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, and Hongwan-ji Temples, and Nijo-jo Castle. Nijo-jo is right down the street from the Gold’s gym where I work out in Kyoto.

Yesterday I jogged along Philosopher’s Walk to the entrance to Ginkaku-ji Temple and then turned west to one of my favorite shrines in Japan, Shimogamo-jinja. Returning, I ran along Kamogawa River on a marvelously sunny day and saw artists painting and many people getting an early start on ohanami, Cherry Blossom viewing parties, although with the current cold weather the blossoms are a little shy.

Kamogawa River is a center of life in Kyoto, beloved as is La Seine in Paris or Lake Michigan in Chicago. It flows beside Kyoto University and the Gion antique and geisha district on a north-south axis: to the north is Kurama Temple, also among my favorites, and to the south Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, with its hundreds of Torii gates. You may recall that this shrine was a featured scene in “Memoirs of a Geisha.”

On this trip, I took a lot of pictures and composed haiku to accompany some of them, shown below. Enjoying the incredible beauty of Kyoto, moved by the tragic events of March 11, and feeling the gentility and nobility of Japanese people, the haiku reflect my mood, a mix of reverence, melancholy, optimism. I am very fortunate to live in Japan and motivated more than ever to contribute as I can to help develop the young leaders who will rebuild Japan, making it an even stronger and greater country. The Japanese people, with their incredible hard work and dignity, will make that happen. Count on it.

Entrance to Chion-in Temple

No quake can break us
we are a community
our hearts do not melt

Overlooking Kyoto

Messengers of spring
cherries crack the night’s stillness
promethean kiss

Night Scene along Shinbashi St.

Weeping cherry trees
heron cries out in the night
mourning for lost ones

On the road to Kyomizu-dera

Shhh…..geisha resting
maiko in reverie
shamisen tuned for dance

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Winter air lingers
cherries comfort their offspring
dawn of new age

Near Sanjo St.

Riverside abode
upstream philosopher’s walk
awaiting Hegelian dialectic

Torii @ Heian-jinja

Vermillion splendor
hallowed ground Heian way
halcyon days

In the Gion

Ordinary people
extraordinary circumstances
heroic deeds

Teahouse @ Maruyama Park

Uphill the teahouse
willows weep with reverence
in a bitter wind

On Sannenzaka Road

A hearty sunburst
heroism to inspire
dignity to admire

Yasaka Shrine

Quiescent waves
tender heart murmuring
communion of souls

Quince Flowers Ikebana

Just as quince flowers
so our spirit flourishes
nourished by love

Entrance to Shoren-in Temple

Cicadas noisy tonight
news from across the mountain
a call for alms

Kodaiji Temple

In night’s embrace
cherry blossoms quicken the pace
hope and renewal

In front of Shoren-in Temple

Mutual support
quintessential spring harvest
carrying us through

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2011 Warren J. Devalier