In October of 2017, I had been a resident of Japan since June. I had survived a very hot summer and I had walked around so much in Kobe and Kyoto that I hurt my ankle. That’s when I met my amazing Japanese chiropractor.
I decided to roam closer to our home and discover which temples were around our Shinmachi neighborhood in Osaka. Quite a few it turned out. Wako-Ji buddhist temple is near the Horie District and was originally surrounded by a swamp. I loved photographing the temple as much as I loved its quiet respite from the intense city. I used to walk and bike past it a lot on our way back from grocery shopping. It’s remarkable to learn of the area’s history.
As the Osaka-brand website explains: Horie was first developed 300 years ago when a canal was built and opened as a new transportation route. The district flourished during the Edo period as the entertainment center after Wako-ji Temple was established in the area and became a place of religion and recreation for people of old Osaka, where a variety of entertainment shows and events were held.
While the landscape of Horie has dramatically changed with the times, the temple, or “Amida-ike-san,” has been cherished by the locals and is still standing today as a witness of the transition of the community.
That transition certainly is remarkable. That urban surrounding this sacred and ancient place had an amazing feeling to it, and I enjoyed that a Buddhist nun greeted me and made my goshuin. What’s more, the incredible pomegranates that were everywhere greatly influenced me. I wrote a haibun about them, and it was published this month in MacQueen’s Quinterly Arts and Literary Journal.
I owe a lot to this haibun Pomegranates and Wako-ji temple, because I had submitted the haibun among others to the Genjuan International Haibun competition, in which I won an honorable mention award for another haibun, Nagaranishi. It was about the next neighborhood we lived in Osaka. Stephen Henry Gill was my haiku teacher in Osaka, and I’m grateful for all I learned from him.
One of the judges, Sean O’Conner, Founder and Publisher of The Haibun Journal, had contacted me and encouraged me in my haibun writing, and I learned so much from him about haiku and haibun. I had been working on the Pomegranates haibun ever since. I have been gratefully published in THJ’s issues 3:1 and 4:1. You can buy your copy today! I brought one copy with me to Buenos Aires. This summer, I started getting my act together on submissions, branching out and submitting elsewhere and voila! I am so grateful!
Poetry and writing are amazing processes. They take their time. I’m so grateful to be a writer and do what I love. And I’m writing this from Buenos Aires! As I continue on my digital nomad journal and spread Japanese culture with Kamishibai for Peace.
Hoping to get back to Japan by next spring! Hubby is supposed to join me soon. That’s the plan. Enjoy the pomegranates! I’ve been working on a film poem of this haibun for a while. Eventually I will finish!
Wake-Ji Buddhist temple is located at Chome-7-27 Kitahorie, Nishi Ward, Osaka, 550-0014, Japan.