Clouds in the wind. Invitation -Interrogating the wandering soul of Basho-

Shiori Kishi

30th November, 2022

Fukagawa is a neighbourhood that invites you to travel.

A few blocks across the Sumida River, not far from Nihonbashi, we find ourselves in an old working-class neighbourhood. Small boats pass through the locks and sail on the canal where passers-by rest. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the Canal Saint Martin in Paris. 

Seagulls fly in the sky and a plane flies low. Airport buses drive along the urban highway that runs alongside the canal. Fukagawa is a place where you feel a bit far from home.

Statue of Basho

It was here that Matsuo Basho, the 'travelling poet', stayed over three hundred years ago. From the time he was thirty years old, he wrote many haiku here. He passed on to us a number of travelogues, including 'The Narrow Path to the End of the World'. He has made a total of nine journeys, five of which began in this district. For him, his residences in Fukagawa were synonymous with the travel season.

What motivated the poet to travel? He did not tell us much about the influence of Fukagawa on his travels, but his attachment to travel can be seen in his haiku "Clouds in the Wind. Invitation", which dates precisely from the period when he lived on the banks of the Sumida River.

the starting point

It seems that from his thatched hut, Basho could see the ships going to distant countries. He compared this view to the landscape described by Du Fu (Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty) whom he esteemed so highly. From his modest house, perhaps he imagined himself sailing to China... The boats are still there today, but Mount Fuji is no longer visible. The Skytree tower, towering in the northern sky, prevents us from doing so.

The haiku of the frog inscribed in honour of the poet

If Basho wrote a lot about tea, Fukagawa is now famous for coffee. On this day when I am walking around, the area is very lively, perhaps it is the aroma of the coffee that attracts people. 
Nevertheless, the deep identity of the district has not changed since the time when Basho lived there. The temples and shrines are old, the traditional houses remain. The atmosphere emanating from the alleys is reminiscent of a distant past and is embodied by the mischievous mood of its hospitable inhabitants.
Many people come up to me, my pushchair does not disturb anyone. A stranger offers me a persimmon bought at the greengrocer's, a dry cleaner shares his tea with my child on a hot day, a surface technician in the public toilets applies a balm to my baby's mosquito bite. The building superintendent walks us to the front door every day.

Fukagawa invites you to travel while creating a sense of nostalgia. The desire to leave is mixed with its opposite, the desire to return. Basho himself left Fukagawa, and inevitably returned here. Except once, when he went to Osaka and lost his life there. He lived in Fukagawa in two different houses. His first house burned down during the great Edo fire, but the poet had a new hermitage rebuilt in the same place. 
I believe that Basho travelled because he knew where to return. Like a mother, a figure of security for her child, Fukagawa is a place of anchorage. 
According to Hemingway, Paris is a party. Fukagawa is more like an unpretentious bento box. Its contents may change daily, but it invariably offers the nostalgia of a moment.
If you want to discover Tokyo without frills, don't hesitate to make a diversion to Fukagawa.

Original text

片雲の風に誘われて ―芭蕉の旅心をたずねる



今から三百年以上前、この地から日本一有名な旅に出た詩人がいる。俳人・松尾芭蕉。 三十代から深川を拠点とし、この地で数々の名句を詠んだ。さらにここから「おくのほ そ道」などの旅に立ち、多くの紀行文を残した。「旅の詩人」の異名をもつ彼は生涯で 九度の旅に出たが、うち五回は深川時代の出来事だ。芭蕉にとって深川に暮らした時期 は旅の季節でもあった。

なにが芭蕉を旅に駆り立てたのだろうか。深川の地が旅に与えた影響について、芭蕉自身は多くを語っていない。しかし彼が庵を結んだ隅田川のほとりには、自身が「片雲の 風」と表した旅情のかけらが今でも残っている。






近所のクリーニング屋のおじさんは、暑い日には子どもに飲みかけのお茶をくれる。公衆トイレの掃除のおじさんは、子の虫刺され痕に優しくムヒを塗ってくれる。マンショ ンの管理人のおじさんは、毎朝おしりペンペンで子を見送ってくれる。

深川は旅心を誘うと同時に、郷愁をかきたてる街でもある。旅立ちたくなると同時に、帰りたくなる街でもあるのだ。芭蕉自身、深川で二度住居を住み替えている。最初の住居は江戸の大火によって焼失したが、その跡地にしぶとく新たな庵を築いた。この地から五度の旅に出たが、帰りつく先はいつも深川だった。最後の旅の途中、惜しまれつつ も大坂の地で客死したことを除いて。

ヘミングウェイはパリを「移動祝祭日(a moveable feast)」と表した。この語は「つ いてまわる饗宴」とも直訳できる。一方、ここ深川は気ままな旅にさっと持ち出す弁当箱のような街だ。日々のおかずは変わっても、蓋をひらくその瞬間の懐かしさは常に変わらない。


  •                                                 (文/岸 志帆莉)
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Shiori Kishi

Academic researcher / Author

Après avoir terminé ses études à l'université, Shiori Kishi intègre à distance un Master de sciences de l'éducation à Londres, tout en démarrant son activité professionnelle. Elle arrive ensuite à Paris pour entreprendre des recherches sur la formation à l'outil numérique. Son sujet de recherche actuel est "La numérisation des universités étrangères" Elle est diplômée d'un master à l'université de Paris pour son parcours EdTech et d'un master à l'University College de Londres en sciences de l'éducation. Elle est actuellement membre du laboratoire de recherche "atarashii hatarakikata" ( "une nouvelle façon de travailler")