Late autumn views at Botan-en Garden, Sukagawa, Nov. 17, 2019. (須賀川牡丹園の晩秋(紅葉、寒牡丹など) 2019年11月17日)

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(Botan-en Garden, Sukagawa, November 17, 2019. 牡丹園 須賀川 紅葉 11/17/2019)
Today I visited Botan-en Garden in Sukagawa. I enjoyed late autumn views there including superb autumn maple leaves, winter flowering peony, and even a pair of mallards in the pond. The garden has many visitors in May from across Japan when breathtaking peony flowers bloom altogether in the vast ground. Photo above was autumn leaves view as of this morning.

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(Botan-en Garden, Sukagawa, November 17, 2019. 牡丹園 須賀川 紅葉 11/17/2019)
Photo above was another autumn leaves view in the garden.

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(Botan-en Garden, Sukagawa, November 17, 2019. 牡丹園 須賀川 寒牡丹 11/17/2019)
Some of the winter flowering peony were blooming as shown above. The flowers seemed to be bearing the cold wind today.
阿武隈の 寒さに負けず 牡丹咲く

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In the pond, several mallards were swimming or staying on a rock. I saw a pair of mallards sitting friendly on a rock with their necks pulled in as shown above.
岩の上 寒さに縮む つがい哉

Botan-en Garden is located 3.5km southeast of JR Sukagawa Station. You can walk 50 minutes or take a local bus.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.

Restored Lake Fujinuma at Sukagawa, April 18, 2019. 復旧した藤沼湖(須賀川)に桜 2019年4月18日。

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(Lake Fujinuma, Sukagawa, April 18, 2019. 藤沼湖 須賀川 4/18/2019)
Photo above was a today’s view of Lake Fujinuma decorated by cherry blossoms. The lake was located in a remote mountain area of Sukagawa City at 400m above sea level. It was a reservoir for irrigation, but was destroyed by the March 11th Earthquake in 2011 and the water caused tragic accident of eight victims. I once visited the lake before in 2015 but there was no water at that time. By this year, the reservoir was restored and the road around the lake and access road were also recovered. The site was again open to the public and tourists.

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Some other lake views today with cherry blossoms are shown above.

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On the way to Lake Fujinuma, near the border between Koriyama and Sukagawa, I found a very long line of cherry blossoms as shown above. This was actually along the Sasahara River and it was called “thousand cherry trees along the Sasahara River”.

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On the way back to my home, I stopped at Naganuma Castle site. A description board on site, shown above, explained that the actual castle existed at the site between 1260 and 1615, mostly during medieval times. I just stopped at the entrance of the site today as shown in the picture above.

Lake Fujinuma is located in a very remote place on a hill and public transportation is not likely. Today I pedaled my bike to the site.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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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.
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