Take me to a place, O Muse,
where the birds already sing.
Take me away from Seoul,
where the winter cools my limbs.
Bring me to Kyoto,
let my eyes drink in spring.
Fushimi Inari, your entrance so grand,
oh how I love returning to your gates.
The pilgrimage up to your lofty heights;
few make your peak.
Wealthy Japanese merchants and businessmen,
have lined your trails with amber gates,
to pay their respects to Inari, god of rice.
I gaze upon you, O Kinkakuji,
from across a pond,
your two levels sparkling with thick gold leaf.
Built in a period of opulent wealth,
and burned to the ground;
rebuilt over and over again.
Sanjusangendo, your thousand statues continue to elude me!
Whenever will I capture a stealthy photo within your walls?
You are Japan’s longest building, made from wood;
within fearsome gods and serene goddesses,
all with different faces.
At Kiyomizu, I’m a fly on the wall.
Nobody sees me.
I watch hoards trekking up your steps,
armed with smiles and selfie sticks.
They bustle by, in Japanese wear,
scoping out a suitable photo scene.
Sitting on stone steps,
an old woman in Kimono passes by.
“I’m from Thailand,” she proudly proclaims,
I reply, “Sawadika.”
She doesn’t listen.
Tourist distractions, on Kiyomizu’s pilgrimage.
A silly respite from our majestic target
Shopkeepers sell while tourists queue,
300 yen please for soft, sticky balls.
Hot and sweet. Please give me more.
Why, O Muse, does Kyoto call?
Delicious enjoyment ready for all!
Use a vending machine to order cuisine,
fill out a form to dictate your norms.
Ding a bell to reorder,
and have cash ready. No disorder.
Walking Fushimi‘s steps,
I recalled my dear Beth.
My former travel partner, I missed your spirit.
I saw the same stones, the places we sat,
wishing you were here.
Kiyomizu Gojo station and the Kamo river,
what a perfect location for an Airbnb.
Between Nishiki market and my special bake shop,
this place was truly the optimal spot.
How I delighted to find you still here!
My favourite bakery in the wide world!
Grandma and Grandpa,
do you recall this former customer?
Your fresh baked bread rolls, stuffed with white chocolate!
Ippudo, I’ll return to you,
no doubt about that.
Mince and noodles, in a spicy broth,
Gyosa dumplings and side dishes.
Nishiki market, endless supplier of tasty food.
Wondering your periphery,
I discover your golden gates.
I’m always ready for your gems.
Green tea, how I’ve longed for you.
Macha richness in simple arrangement.
Mother and daughter, trying their best,
your kind café provides sweet needed rest.
I discovered your colours sixteen months ago.
Forgetting your location, I hoped to spy you.
Imagine my glee to turn and see,
you in full glory, how enthralling for me!
How many visitors trekking up Kiyomizu
have posed with you?
O Gion. Where Geiko and Maiko evade my stares.
Let me melt in your narrow alleys.
Fill my eyes with your delicate designs.
While this was my second visit,
My former was all awe.
I wrote about your touching beauty,
and hope for a third visit.
May my return be not long away.
Dedicated to my father, Laszlo Victor, who wrote poems and shared them with me and my siblings in childhood.
Also, dedicated to my university professor, Cedric Littlewood, who instilled within me a deep love for Latin poetry.