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.
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Chusonji lotus flowers and old Shichikashuku Highway at Kunimi Town, July 11, 2015 (国見町の中尊寺ハス、七ヶ宿街道、他 2015年7月11日)

Today, I first visited beautiful lotus ponds in Kunimi Town. Also, there were remains of Atsukashiyama Defense Bank 800 years old adjacent to the site. Then I pedaled along the old Shichikashuku Highway to Miyagi Pref. via Kosaka Pass. There remained atmosphere of old post villages along the road. Finally, I stopped at Kori Town on the way back to Fukushima City.

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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20150711中尊寺ハス説明 (560x296)

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(Chusonji lotus flowers, Kunimi Town, July 11, 2015, 中尊寺ハス、国見町、2015/7/11)
Above photos are of Chusonji lotus flowers. The seeds were discovered at Chusonji Temple which was a world heritage site in Iwate Pref. in the north. Those seeds were brought back to life from more than 800 years of sleep.

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(Atsukashiyama Defense Bank, Kunimi Town, July 11, 2015, 阿津賀志山防塁、国見町、2015/7/11)
Just adjacent to this lotus field, there are remains of old Atsukashiyama defense banks as shown above. This site is designated as National Historic Site. Oushu Fujiwara family who built the Chusonji Temple built these defense banks in 1189 but finally was defeated by Kamakura shogunate forces.

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I could find many peach farms everywhere around. Peach is a specialty product of Fukushima especially in this region.

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(Shichikashuku Highway, Manzoinari Shrine, July 11, 2015, 七ヶ宿街道、小坂峠、萬蔵稲荷、国見町、宮城県、2015/7/11)
After leaving the lotus field, I pedaled along the old Shichigashuku Highway toward Kosaka Pass. This road extends to Shiroishi City, Miyagi Pref. First photo above shows the border to Miyagi Pref. at Kosaka Pass. Second photo shows Manzoinari Shrine located just beyond the pass. The shrine has a long path beneath hundreds of torii gates.

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There were seven post villages along this road in old days which supported travel between Dewa (Yamagata & Akita Pref.) and Edo (Tokyo). Shimotozawa village in Shiroishi City is one of the seven villages. An old atmosphere still remains with some thatched roof houses along the road as shown above.

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(Munoji Temple, pine tree, July 11, 2015, 無能寺、笠松、桑折町、2015/7/11)
Then I returned back to Kosaka Pass and then descended toward Kori Town. There I first stopped at a large sunshade like pine tree in the precinct of Munoji Temple. (Photos above) This tree was designated as natural monument of Fukushima Pref.

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(Old local office building of Date, Kori Town, July 11, 2015, 旧伊達郡役所、桑折町、2015/7/11)
Finally at Kori Town, I visited an old office building of local government of Date. This building was built in 1883 and was designated as National Important Cultural Property for its nice pseudo-western style architecture.
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