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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 2, June 2014

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Giselle Maya
St. Martin de Castillon, France

Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand


Journeys

airport lounge
someone steps forward
with a talisman

a flight to Japan
a long-time friend
and sakura

shibaraku

was the first word I heard when looking at the faces near the passenger exit of Nagoya airport – my dear friend was there waiting for me taking a photo of my arrival a language familiar to me yet not spoken for some time surrounded me and signs in kanji some of which I recognized – we looked for the train station to take us to Kyoto first we had planned to go to Ise Shrine—as Kyoto has many wonders to explore we went from Kyoto Station by taxi to the old temple Myoren-ji where I had once lived when studying the tea ceremony

*

early morning—we’re
ushered from the grass
with a birch broom

at Da Dong businessmen in suits nod and smile at us     not speaking Chinese we point to Peking duck and wonder about the wantons crispy or with soup     delicious either way     a waitress brings the duck to our table where she cuts, debones and slices it hands us chopsticks sealed with red cellophane     the fog blanketing the city has cleared     we reach Tiananmen Square which only the previous year had been the scene of riots

hazy day
among soldier’s uniforms
our red coats

*

river water sound
a budding sakura
grows close to an old tree

next morning waking in a temple tatami room miso soup and rice with pickles for breakfast a day at Arashiyama taking a jin-rikisha pulled by a handsome fellow who takes us to a magnificent bamboo forest—take no hashyai—to a shrine where one prays for auspicious pregnancy and birth we walked across a wide bridge to see the buds of sakura trees closed end of March any day now they will unfold for lunch we went to Tenryu-ji for an elegant shojin-ryri meal

*

close enough
to touch
snow-capped mountains

on the plane heading towards Lhasa     an insight into the Chinese going home for the New Year celebrations      I give an old lady my dried meat in exchange for a peacock feather     a long drive to the hotel alongside the river     grottoes hewn out of the cliffs contain multi-coloured statues of Buddha     yaks graze in the bare fields     men pull donkeys laden with juniper     women wash clothes in a drainage ditch     farm houses are plastered with dung cakes

farm lunch
potatoes and apples
yak-butter tea

*

Arashiyama is one of my favourite places in Kyoto all afternoon we walked in gardens, sat at a teahouse for a bowl of macha I wanted to stay there forever among pines and raked pebbles next day Mari Kono came to visit we went to a gathering of tanka poets clustered under umbrellas we listened to someone holding forth on the huge stones into which waka had been carved long ago to a museum where Heian courtiers sang poems—all very ingenious I was glad to return to our ryokan on Higashiyama for a restful evening immersed in a hot o-furo

purifying waters
and prayers at
Kiyomizu-dera
a life span of one hundred years

*

only its façade
St Paul’s Cathedral
firecrackers pop

by ferry to the island of Macau here a tour bus drops us at the Sands Casino     on its steps a group of Asians ask us to pose with them for photographs     they call us ‘big noses’     a statue of the Bodhisatta Avalokitesvara is located near the beach     despite being a Chinese deity it clearly resemble a statue of the Virgin Mary     Macau is a fascinating place packed with churches, temples and fortresses     hundreds of alleyways form a maze in the old Portuguese quarter     a busload of tourists lunch at the Lung Wah Tea House, where we point and take from the display the queue for the ferry back to Hong Kong stretches for several blocks     finally we board and find our way back to our hotel from the quay

at the desk
a letter from home
its well-known stamp

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