Following Basho’s track in Fukushima and Kunimi, May 22, 2017 (芭蕉 の 福島 と 国見 路を追って 2017年5月22日)

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Basho left Kitamachi, the central part of current Fukushima City, and continued his journey. Photo above was an old Oshu Highway Site remained as it was in Kunimi Town. The site is located about 200m apart from the current National Route 4 and is called Nagasaka Site of an old Kunimi Pass. Basho traveled through this route and his memorial monument stood there.

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The first destination of Basho after leaving Kitamachi was Mochizuri Kannon in the east of Fukushima City. As I visited there today, I found Basho’s statue in front and his monument of Haiku poem in the central precinct as shown above.

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The old historic temple dates back more than 700 years. Since then many historic buildings and monuments had been built at the site. A board above tells us the history.

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Then he visited Ioji Temple in the west which was located in the current Iizaka Onsen district. The temple started in 826 as described in a board above. The precinct was large as shown in the picture above.

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Basho then visited hot spring site of Iizaka Onsen. I went to the site he was said to have visited, where a panel shown above stood. It said that this site called Takinoyu Site had long been considered Basho’s bathing and staying place at Iizaka Onsen. But the recent research showed that he might have been to other places such as Sabakoyu or Tozayu, both of which were within this hot spring resort.

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Finally, he headed toward Miyagi Prefecture in the north. There was a historic site in Kunimi Town where he traveled on the way as I introduced at the beginning. At Nagasaka Site of an old Kunimi Pass not so far from border with Miyagi Pref., there was a board as shown above which described his hard journey in his own words from “Okuno-hosomichi”. He said that he struggled through Kunimi Pass getting some illness and recognizing his long way ahead north. But he managed to pass the route with his innocent and vital spirit.

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The picture above shows the current border between Fukushima and Miyagi, where I ended this journey which followed Basho’s tracks in Fukushima.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20170522芭蕉_福島から国見 (560x419)

Following Basho’s track in Koriyama and Nihonmatsu, May 21, 2017 (芭蕉 の 郡山と二本松 路を追って 2017年5月21日)

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After leaving Sukagawa, Basho’s first destination was Otsujigataki Falls of the Abukuma River. The waterfall was located on the border of today’s Sukagawa City and Tamakawa Village and the view as of today looked as shown above. Seeing the waterfall, Basho created a Haiku poem which said “Samidareno Takifuriuzumu Mizukasakana”, which meant the waterfall was abundant of water with seasonal rain in June.
須賀川を立ち、芭蕉の最初の目的地は、阿武隈川の乙字ヶ滝でした。滝は、今の須賀川市と玉川村の境界にあり、写真は今日の姿です。滝を見て、芭蕉は「五月雨の 滝降りうづむ 水かさ哉」の句をつくりました。梅雨の時期で、水量が多かったようです。

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Then Basho and Sora traveled along the old Oshu Highway to Koriyama. On the way, they stopped at Tamura Shrine, which was located in the southern Tamura district of the city. The shrine looked as shown above today and a board in the precinct told us about his visit here in 1689.

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They continued their journey northward and arrived at Hiwada district of Koriyama. They visited Asakayama which was a small hill along Oshu Highway. The name was famous as it had appeared a number of times in Tanka and Haiku poems. Basho was looking for small iris flowers, which was called Hanakatsumi in Japanese or its academic name was “Iris gracilipes”. This was explained in a board above.

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I found some of Hanakatsumi iris flowers on the slope of Asakayama as shown above. There also was a board which told us that the flower was designated as the flower of Koriyama City.

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Basho also visited Asakanuma Swamp close to Asakayama and looked for the same flower. Asakanuma Swamp site was no more swamp today and all the area were rice fields as shown in the picture above. The condition was similar even when Basho visited more than 300 years ago as the “Asakanuma Swamp Site” description board above told us.

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Then Basho traveled further north to Nihonmatsu. His destination was a historic Kurotsuka Site. There was an old story of merciless witch who lived in Kurotsuka Site, but finally she was killed and buried under Kurotsuka Mound. Her large stone house called “Iwaya”, and Kurotsuka Mound were preserved at the site. Photos above show an outside view of the site, Iwaya stone house, and Kurotsuka Mound.

Actually, Basho stayed a night at Hiwada post village, and the next day he moved to Nihonmatsu and finally to Kitamachi of Fukushima City where he stayed another night. Today, I traveled from Sukagawa to Fukushima in a day and stayed a night near Kitamachi area. Tomorrow is the last journey for me traveling through the northern part of Fukushima Prefecture.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20170521芭蕉_郡山から二本松 (560x420)

Following Basho’s track in Sukagawa, May 20, 2017 (芭蕉 の 須賀川 路を追って 2017年5月20日)

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Leaving Shirakawa, Basho traveled to Yabuki and then to Sukagawa. Photo above is a set of statues of Basho and his talented disciple Sora at Kagenuma Swamp Site. They visited this place in Kagamiishi Town on the way to Sukagawa. The site was no more swamp today but the surrounding area was all but beautiful rice fields.

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After leaving Shirakawa, the two walked along the old Oshu Highway. Today, only a small part of the road retains the atmosphere of that day. For example, the old road which runs through Gohonmatsu district of Yabuki Town shows similar view of that day as shown above except the paved surface. The panel tells us that two old tea houses used to host travelers with good water and rest.

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Photos above show today’s view of Kagenuma Swamp Site, where the statues of the two are located, and the history description.

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Then I stopped at another historic place called Serizawa Falls Site, where the two Haiku poets visited. Today, only a board describing history of the site and a memorial remain at the site as shown in the pictures above. The board tells us the waterfall was full of water at the time of their visit.

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Entering Sukagawa along the old Oshu Highway, there was a historic milestone site called Sukagawa Ichirizuka Site as shown above. A couple of boards described the structure and the history. Mounds with trees on both sides of the road in the view show a set of milestones placed every 4km in the old days. This is a national historic site.

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Basho and Sora finally arrived at the center of Sukagawa post town, which was called Motomachi. A man named Tokyu welcomed them and the two stayed in this town for as long as eight days. The house they stayed was gone but a sign board shown above told us the exact location. They also visited a simple house called Kashin-an shown above, which was owned by a friend priest of Tokyu. All these were located within a small historic area called Motomachi.

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I found an interesting picture in a corner, which showed his popular Haiku poem “Furyuno Hajimeya-okuno Taue-uta” created during this visit.

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There also was a small museum in the same area as shown above called Bashokinenkan or Basho Memorial Hall which was dedicated to Basho. Staff members can provide detailed information and brochures free of charge.

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At last I visited Junenji Temple shown above, where Basho also visited while in Sukagawa. The temple was established in 1593. (Basho traveled in 1689.)

I stayed tonight near Motomachi area of Sukagawa and my bike trip continues tomorrow.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20170520芭蕉の道_須賀川 (560x420)
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A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)

Author:A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)
Local guide for Fukushima (English)(福島地域通訳案内士(英語))
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