Sixteen Days in Japan


Wrong Turns Kansai Airport to Mountain-Top Koyasan

weary of tunnels,
in the Fukuchiin Temple
we sleep near the monks

Koyasan’s Okunoin, Japan’s Largest Cemetery

graveyard night tour
Fukuchiin has a curfew!
doors locked, grave concerns

Sacred Koyasan to Seaside Tanabe

Obscure location—
where’s Nissan? Its kindly staff
van us into town

Kumano Kodō Nakahechi Pilgrimage Trail—First Day

(photo by Lynn)

angry rain gods, then
sun to Tsugizakura
best homestay, ever

Kumano Kodō Nakahechi Pilgrimage Trail—Day Two

another pass climbed,
warm afternoon light, glowing
ochre, like the path

Kumano Kodō Nakahechi Pilgrimage Trail—Day Three

shrine gods we revere:
trail markers, vendees, rice balls,
Asahi beers, sleep

Kumano Kodō Nakahechi Pilgrimage Trail—Last Day

mossed stones, sunbeam spears
we climb a thousand metres
mystical beauty

Kurashiki—Venice in Japan

after the earthquake
ryokan mommy’s dinner,
shockingly tasty

Benesse House, Naoshima

Ando and artists,
sleeping in the museum
we’re art-full lodgers

Teshima Art Museum: The Concrete Harmony of Environment, Art and Architecture by Rei Naito and Ryue Nishizawa

a shell: thin, curved, white,
oculus for light, air, rain,
droplets shimmer, bond

Nightfall at Chiiori


blackened floors glisten
charcoal embers (persimmon)
smoky dreams linger

The Almost Abandoned Hamlets of Tenku no Mura and Kakashi no Sato

villagers today
outnumbered by past dwellers
immortalized ghosts

Bukeyashiki-Kita-ke Samurai House

Photo: Ward

the suicide room,
unlike twisted mountain roads,
can’t be exited

Leaving the Iya Valley in Shikoku

on the bullet train
three centuries whiz by us;
Hello Osaka!

Kuidaore: How the Japanese Define Osakans 

‘eat oneself bankrupt’—
very apt; we’re all on a
street food pilgrimage


tofus to totos,
Sugoi! our memories,
Hei! we loved Japan

 (arigato=thank you, sugoi=amazing, hei=yes)

16 Responses

    1. I think you’d love the spirituality of Chiiori despite the mountain road leading to it, which would remind you of our time together in those little Italian towns in Tuscany.

    1. As an architect, you’d probably be sleepless in Benesse House admiring Tadao’s concrete proportions and brilliance with natural light.

    1. The street food was fantastic. Try kushikatsu—deep-fried heaven on a stick, or takoyski—octopus balls, or okonomiyaki—a savoury Japanese pancake, and finish with a foot-high ice-cream cone!

  1. With the exception of the food on the way home, AirCanada Rouge was a lot better than the rumours. And lots of leg room if you’ve only got a 28″ inseam!

  2. Amazing Photos! The training in Utah is really showing up here…….Looking forward to hearing about the trip (and Rouge) later this week…….

    1. There are lots more stories to come!

      Working Titles for Posts About Japan
      “Your passport madam?”
      Mr. and Mrs. Yuba
      Fish Market Today?

    1. The leaders of the day obviously held themselves to a very high standard. “The residence of the Kita Clan, … including Irazu-no-ma (room of no entry) for committing ritual suicide, tells the story of the ancient way of life of samurais in the mountains.”

    1. We approached the hike of the Kumano Kodo as pilgrims, intent to focus on the spiritual—two grand shrines and “ninety-nine” oji dedicated to the deities of child gods. But as we hiked the 66 km of the Nakahechi Route over four days, with 4,430 metres of cumulative vertical, we started to focus on the milestones every half kilometre and the far too infrequent vending machines!

      Only 11 kilometres to go!

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