12/12/2016 Kyoto, Japan

 

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take the JR line to Saga-Arishiyama
she hums along
clickety clack, clickety clack

see the town fan out below

apartment houses
wooden walls
intersections
ninnen-ji pagoda
rising in the distance

the hills loom large as we head west
great green rollers specked with brown and
orange
cresting towards the north

the city whizzes by all chock-a-block
cut this way & that with hills and temples

we come to a stop at the station
disembark

a hum of tourists
station workers

into the streets
past kimono rentals
curry shops and
noodle houses

souvenirs &
second hand stores

a warren of restaurants
rickshaws & cafes

soon we come to the katsura river
white gleam of water rippling beneath the mountain sun
the famed togetsu-kyo bridge stretches over
forested hills plunge down to the far shore
flecked with temple roofs &
pagodas

we stop for lunch along the riverside

a feast of soba, two different ways
cold for dipping
hot in a mushroom soup
later we add warm miso water to the dipping sauce

tempura-don & sardines on rice
pickles too
while the river rolls

we walk along it come afternoon
watching boatmen pole the river bottom

white cranes
ducks
a dam pushing water over

we turn into kameyama-koen park
past flowers & the
poet’s statues

come to okochi sans villa
and explore her rambling hillside gardens
moss, bamboo
japanese maple

from a rise on the hill we see the river and mountains beyond
all red & glorious
ravens sing out above in the hills circling

there’s a temple there
in the crook of the mountains
rising from the forest
colored flags a-flying

stepping stones lead us down to the tea house
matcha tea & cookies
overlooking a bamboo garden

soon we find ourselves within arishiyama bamboo grove
towers of green as far as the eye can see
a forest of poles blotting out the sky above

we explore the zen gardens of tenryu-ji beside
full of rivers, carp ponds
camelias & mountain views

from there it’s on to more temples still
jojakko-ji with her poet’s shrine
and sacred lotus sutra pagoda

purifying water
the hill rolls down through the grounds
there are gravestones here
of ancient sages
a view of the city & mountains beyond

we descend into the neighborhood once more
past a poet’s house
old friend of Basho’s
stop at a french bakery for garlic bread

then it’s back on the train bound for Nijo &
home

 

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