Colin Marshall sits down overlooking greater Kyoto on Mt. Ogura with Stephen Gill, poet, BBC radio scriptwriter, and executive director of People Together for Mt. Ogura. They discuss the mountain’s place in a traditional Japanese poetry card game; how, after scores of Japanese noticed in it an opportunity for free trash disposal, the mountain generated the headline “Ogurayama, gomi no yama” (Mt. Ogura, Mountain of Trash); the compilation of a collection about Mt. Ogura featuring verse by one hundred different poets; the onset of sightseeing season, which mostly brings visitors to the neighboring Mt. Arashiyama; the rich literary heritage of this now-suburban area, which even offers real locations from The Tale of Genji; the modern development of Kyoto, whose tower blocks at least cast into relief its more historical elements in the “glorious chaos” mixture well known to Asia; his three stretches in Japan, and the constant visits to the doctor his early acclimatization required; how he makes radio programs about Japan, always beginning with an image and then crafting a broadcast around it; how he only learned about his native Britain by living abroad, and what a foreign poet can offer Japan by way of a helpful thorn in the side; his view of Kyoto as a vast intermeshing of systems, which once there tend to last a hundred, or even five hundred years; what could possibly “shake up” Kyoto short of actual destruction; and what it means for him to “tune in” to a place like this. He also reads haiku poems, both his own and those by other People Together for Mt. Ogura participants.
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