Obon vacation part 5: Sumida River & Matsuo Basho

My mum and I left Hamamatsu for Tokyo on Friday 13th August.  We were staying in a business hotel in Shinjuku, so we found that and then went out shopping and exploring. I took loads of photos – I just love taking pictures in Tokyo – and you can see the collection here.  Here’s one of my favourite views in Tokyo – the Shibuya Crossing:

Shibuya

The next day, we set out for a long walk along the Sumida River.  Starting at Asakusa-bashi Station, we made our way down the river, walking right beside the river as much as we could.  I had never been to that part of Tokyo before, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a really lovely walk.

Along the Sumida River

I had read that somewhere in this area there was a Basho Museum, but I hadn’t planned on going there on this day.  However, after a few haiku sightings, it became irresistible.

Haiku

The Basho Museum (that’s Matsuo Basho, the haiku poet, by the way) is located in Koto-ku which is near Morishita Station.  As we were walking along the river, we saw numerous signs like the one above, which have haiku on them. I hope one day to be able to read them…

With the aid of amazing GPS technology on my cell phone, we easily found where to turn off the river to enter the museum. Actually, the museum backs right on to the river, and we entered the garden from the rear.

Basho Museum

It felt a little like entering a secret garden which might lead to a strange new world. However, after a little wander in the small garden we were at the museum entrance.

I asked the guy in the museum if anything was in English or if it was all in Japanese. He had an English pamphlet, but told me that everything inside the museum was in Japanese. I decided to leave it for another day, even though it was very cheap to enter (just 100 Yen!). I plan to go back there someday when I have better language skills.

Entering the museum lobby offered a good chance to cool off a bit. It was extremely hot that day as we walked along the river and we were both thirsty and soaked in sweat. A little look around the museum lobby also alerted me to the fact that there was a statue of Basho nearby. I asked the helpful museum guy how to find it, and then we set off to meet Mr. Basho himself.

Matsuo Basho

I was very pleased with this little unplanned detour in our day. I have been an admirer of Basho’s haiku for a long time, and it’s my dream to one day read his haiku in the original Japanese, understand them, and then write my own.  So… I must keep studying!

After the Basho detour, we headed back on track and continued along the river. The final stop was to be the Tokyo Bay Fireworks Display that evening, but before that we had a plan to visit another world entirely… at the Museum of Contemporary Art…

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