Sunday, October 18, 2020

a tourist strolling through the Gion district at night

Around this time last year, I was preparing to visit Japan...

photo of a Kyoto bar by YunPing

a tourist strolling through the Gion district at night

A cold autumn wind unexpectedly greets us
blowing from behind as we exit Sanjo Station.

Coming from the river, the chill shakes billboards,
descends on the crowd going to Pontocho Alley.

Even at this hour, 9 p.m., in this slight rain,
from the stations, the main roads, the hotels,
groups of people talking, laughing, taking selfies,
head towards this narrow, wet and dim alley.

Indistinct chatter in many languages, guffaws,
Japanese polite phrases, hang in the air.

Keeping a close eye on any puddles, or any geishas,
lit lanterns on almost every door or eaves,
my friend helpfully points out the lights to me.

Not the ones with names, clan crests, but
only the ones with a red symbol of a bird.

Pausing at one, he says that this is a geisha teahouse,
quaint, but expensive, if you want the experience.

Resuming our walk, the crowd is still not thinning,
slanted light pours out of a bar as a door opens.

The banter of gruff men floats over, phlegm laced.
Under this dark, rainy sky they could be yakuza,
vying for one last fling of greatness.

We are exiting the alley to a busy road, the
x on our maps showing the next train station.

Yearning for the warm beds of our hotel, we
zero in on a takoyaki stall to end the night.


This is an Abecedarian poem. It is a poem that uses all the 26 letters in the alphabet chronologically, each letter starting a new line.

Theme song from anime movie Castle in the Sky - Carrying You

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2020

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Blogger Rommy said...

It's my dream to visit Japan some day. This was a nice glimpse into an evening in Gion. Thanks for that.

18 October, 2020 22:41  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

It's a totally new experience. i am planning to visit it again. :)

18 October, 2020 23:33  
Blogger C. Sandlin said...

If I ever get over my fear of planes, Japan would be on my travel list. Meanwhile, love the vicarious stroll. :)

18 October, 2020 23:44  
Blogger Gillena Cox said...

Interesting night scene, didn't understand it so i had to google yakuza.
Happy you dropped by my sumie Sunday today


19 October, 2020 00:16  
Blogger Magaly Guerrero said...

I have really enjoyed the stroll, raininess and all. And your mastery of the form is quite impressive. I shall give it a go, too!

19 October, 2020 02:57  
Blogger Helen said...

The form and the way in which you wrote to it boggles my mind! Terrific poetry. I have traveled round the world but did not make it to Japan. I think my time will not come.

19 October, 2020 03:51  
Blogger indybev said...

A beautiful poem, and interesting format. So well done.

19 October, 2020 05:29  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

This is so well done that I didn't even realise it was an abecedarian until I read the note at the end. I am highly unlikely ever to get to Japan, so it's wonderful to read of your experience, so vividly recreated, with such immediacy and detail.

19 October, 2020 07:05  
Blogger Old Egg said...

What a delightful poem. I haven't come across this poetry form before. It is probably more difficult that in looks.

19 October, 2020 07:31  
Blogger rallentanda said...

I was impressed with your use of this form,achieved seamlessly. Well done.

19 October, 2020 08:00  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


trust me, Japan is a lovely place to visit.
i even visited a cemetery. :)


now you know what "yakuza" means. :)


you should have no problems with the form. :)

19 October, 2020 16:35  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


thank you!
you will. make some time for it. and when you visit Kyoto and the Gion district, think of my poem. 😀


thank you! 😀


thank you!
i only learned about the abecedarian recently and decided to give it a try. i think i was rather inspired because surprisingly, it didn't take me long to write and clean it up. perhaps because i have wonderful memories of that place. 😀

19 October, 2020 21:01  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yes, it's probably more difficult than it looks.


thank you! 😀

19 October, 2020 21:31  
Anonymous Orange_Rind said...

Kyoto is lovely.

24 October, 2020 23:57  
Anonymous dsnake1 said...

it is! :)

25 October, 2020 15:48  

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