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Yellow River Tour

"You're a Benefactor of Japanese Culture"

Following the Yellow River westward from Zhengzhou, we arrived in Luoyang, which is also one of the seven major ancient Chinese capitals. With a history of over 4,000 years, Luoyang boasts such historical sites as the Longmen Grottoes, the White Horse Temple, the Museum of Ancient Tombs, and the Bai (white) Garden, which is a favorite for Japanese tourists.

The Bai Garden refers to the mausoleum of Bai Juyi, an outstanding poet of the Tang Dynasty who lived between 772 and 846. Bai Juyi led a miserable life in his early days, became an official later, but was dismissed from his post and displaced, spending the last 18 years of his life in Luoyang. After his death, he was buried in the Dongshan Hill in Longmen, Luoyang.

One afternoon, after visiting Longmen Grottoes, Mr. Wang who was in our travel group suggested we go and pay a visit to the Bai Garden, which we accepted readily. I adore Bai Juyi's poems. I can still remember how the sentence "the grass will not burn down by the prairie fire and will come to life again when spring arrives" written by him when he was 16-year-old inspired me in those war-ridden days when I was a 16-year-old boy.

The Bai Garden is located at the eastern hill of Longmen, opposite slightly to one side of the Longmen Grottoes across a river. In the garden, we found only a few visitors, which is a sharp contrast to the crowds seen at the grottoes.

What I like most while visiting a mausoleum is to read the inscriptions on the tablets, where one can always find traces of literature, history, and stories of men and events. Beside the tomb of Bai Juyi, under a cypress tree, a huge tablet caught my attention. Inscribed on the tablet are the words:

Great Poet Mr. Bai Juyi, You Are the Benefactor of the Japanese Culture.
You Are a Man of Letters Respected by the Whole Japanese Nation.

We will Always Remember the Contributions You made to Japan, Which Are as Heavy as the Mountains and Immortal.

While I was reading the tablet, a young tourist came over and asked me: "Why the Japanese call Bai Juyi their cultural benefactor?" It was a good question. But I could not answer it since my knowledge on this respect is limited. However, as a Chinese, I am really proud of China having such a great poet as Bai Juyi. I believe Bai Juyi belongs not only to China, but also to the world.

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