Fukagawa in Poetry

Home / Fukagawa in Poetry

Basho’s Life and Fukagawa

by misarai723

Picture Source

Matsuo Basho is the most popular poet in Edo era. At the age of 29, he went to Edo dreaming of becoming a haikai or professional haiku, because his house was poor and he was the second son.Since people from rural areas who have no track record can not make ends meet by haiku immediately, so he decided to work as a clerk under Tarobee Ozawa who was the headman of Nihonbashi Ohune Town.
He seemed to have a very high practical ability, and eventually he undertook a major job such as maintenance work supervision of the Kanda water supply.

While doing work, he also improved his ability and position as a haikai, and he became a teacher of haiku in 1678 when he was 35 years old. Two years later, he published a book which collected haiku of his 20 students.
In the winter of this year, Basho resigned the work of water supply maintenance and moved to Fukagawa.

There are a few theories so as to why Basho, who already gained fame, moved to Fukagawa. One is because Hanami and the view of the moon were beautiful along the Sumida River and Onda River. Another one is because there was a harsh competition with other teachers who wanted to gain a lot of money by carrying a lot of students.It is also said that it was a result of disappointment that his nephew took Basho’s mistress.

After that, in the spring of 46 years old, he withdrew Bashoan, which was on the banks of the Sumidagawa river, and traveled to the journey of “Oku no Hosomichi.”
He and his disciple went from Edo to Oshu, or Tohoku district, passed through Matsushima and Hiraizumi, headed west to Gifu. It took them 150 days and it was 2350 km long.
Although he became a very popular person, he became sick and he died in Osaka. He was 51 years old at that time.

At the end of his life, Basho asked his disciple to take his body to Kisozuka, or Yoshinaka Temple after his death and he was buried there..
Basho liked there very much and he often visited the temple when he was about 41 – 45 years old. There is a tomb of Yoshinaka in the center of the precincts and a grave of Basho on the right. The character of “Basho Okina” is engraved on the tombstone.

I am going to introduce two haiku that was based on Fukagawa.

The first one is:

侘びて澄め 月侘斎が 奈良茶歌  

(わびてすめ つきわびさいが ならちゃうた)

I (Basho) am looking at the moon by living lonely and I am eating Nara-chazuke and singing a song.

Basho told his students that after eating Nara-chazuke, they will know the meaning of haiku. Nara-chazuke is a simple meal eaten by people in Nara. 月侘斎 refers to Basho himself. His dwelling in Fukagawa was small and frugal, so this haiku shows his spirit to live there.

The second one is:


(ばしょうのわきして たらいにあめを きくよかな)

A typhoon is approaching and this night, I am listening to the rain falling to a tub.

Since Basho’s house was frugal, there was some holes on the roof. The sound of the rain and the droplet falling to the tub makes his life more lonely.


  • 江東区芭蕉記念館
  • www2.yamanashi-ken.ac.jp/~itoyo/basho/tanpen/tukiwabi.htm
  • www2.yamanashi-ken.ac.jp/~itoyo/basho/tanpen/bousya.htm
  • 深川の芭蕉
  • “俳句の作り方、歴史、俳人を探求。日本俳句研究会.” 松尾芭蕉・俳人列伝/日本俳句研究会
  • 百科事典マイペディアとっさの日本語便利帳日本大百科全書(ニッポニカ)世界大百科事典内言及. “野分(のわき)とは.” コトバンク