Poet of today in Kyoto, Japan: Takashi Arima

 

Mikagedori Street

 

Along a road lined with green gingko trees

a big American junior high school girl

walks like a boy, shaking her body to right and left,

talks with her classmates

on her way to the mission school

a little to the north.

 

Crossing the southern approach to Shimogamo Shrine

passing the Tadasunomori Police Box,

she stops suddenly,

inclines her blond head.

At the end of a sky-blue fence on her left,

a stone column, bigger than the girl, stands.

Strange kanji, thick and big, are inscribed on it:

(hakko ichi-u)

 

Did she actually read it with her clear, blue eyes,

the archaic inscription, made by a shrine priest

decorated with an order,

to commemorate the 2.600th year of Japan’s founding?

She shook her knapsack lightly,

turned toward her classmates

who were walking ahead of her,

and caught them, walking with strides

past a crossing with a blinking signal.

 

“Hakko ichi-u” means “making the world one home”.

During World War II, this word was used as a slogan

for propagating Japan’s expansionist policy.

 

In Advance

 

Cast away, don’t hesitate.

Dump things

you don’t need at your death

things you keep in your house

where you miss your hospitalized wife.

 

Old newspaper, leaflets, magazines

bundled letters, files, scraps

unused boxes, small articles, tools, mementos

souvenirs, liquor bottles

things you’ve kept without any reason.

Cast them away, to the very last.

 

Cast away, don’t hesitate!

Before you lose a clear consciousness

before your limbs become wizened.

Stuff them into pallid vinyl bags

together with your disconnected memory!

 

 

 

 

KYOTO, My Ancient and Modern City

 

Near the Tatsumi Bridge

 

Whether the liquid in your cup is

water of life, or water of madness –

that doesn’t matter, just get intoxicated

make your life a dream of dreams.

 

A shallow stream murmurs

if you ramble on the stone pavement

blown by a chilly, nipping wind

never sober up!

 

 

An Animal Trail

 

Even an old tree in that forest

has a young branch with green leaves

stretching from the slant, half-rotten trunk.

 

I thrust my way through a knee-high thicket

like a wounded animal

stretch my arms awkwardly

take deep breaths slowly.

 

My neck and waist joints creak

my eyes grow dim

a sharp pain runs from my shoulder across my back.

 

The air in the Tadasu forest is cold and clear

morning sunlight from the East Mountains

sifts down through branches.

I, alone, follow an animal trail.

 

 

 

The Tatsumi Bridge spans a small river in Gion,

a traditional bar district.

 

The Tadasu Forest is located around Shimogamo Shrine,

designated a World Cultural Heritage.