Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

With our cameras and crumpled clothes

we wait for the bus. We rush to each

“beauty spot” through narrow streets,

observing signs whose alphabet we fail

to comprehend.

Pretty girls are scattered like rain.

We pass students on bikes, old people

stooped over bundles. The new “good life”

of Japan smiles at us from Coke posters

on rundown store fronts. Dingy flats

and factories crowd the roads, relieved

briefly by ragged patches of green and graceful shrines.

Although he tries to make things clear,

the guide is mechanical and tired.

The bus windows are splattered with

rain and each of us is deep in murky water.

Dear Reader,

We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.

Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on

Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.

Will you give today?

Make My Gift