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A blog about travel, places I love, places I've lived, and strange customs that keep us occupied the world over.

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The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) of Kamakura (near Tokyo)

O ye who treated the Narrow Way
By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day,
Be gentle when “the heathen” pray
      To Buddha at Kamakura!

For though he neither burns nor sees,
Nor hears ye thank your Deities,
Ye have not sinned with such as these,
      His children at Kamakura,

Yet spare us still the Western joke
When joss-sticks turn to scented smoke
The little sins of little folk
      That worship at Kamakura —

The grey-robed, gay-sashed butterflies
That flit beneath the Master’s eyes.
He is beyond the Mysteries
      But loves them at Kamakura.

And whoso will, from Pride released,
Contemning neither creed nor priest,
May feel the Soul of all the East
      About him at Kamakura.

A tourist-show, a legend told,
A rusting bulk of bronze and gold,
So much, and scarce so much, ye hold
      The meaning of Kamakura?

But when the morning prayer is prayed,
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade,
Is God in human image made
      No nearer than Kamakura?

 - Rudyard Kipling (selected verses from ‘The Edge of the East’, 1892, collected in ‘The Five Nations’, 1903, and also used as introductory verses to his novel ‘Kim’, 1901.

Kamakura Japan Tokyo Great Buddha Daibutsu Rudyard Kipling Poetry bronze statue monument