on the Toei Oedo and Toei Shinjuku
Subway Lines in the Morishita district
of Koto Ward.
is a merchant and a working class
ward in eastern Tokyo. The district
of Morishita ,
being part of it, is a simple place
with rows of apartment blocks and
narrow streets. But what is special
about the place is its unique blend
of the new and the old. The apartment
blocks are all new but in between
are also some of the best preserved
streets, shops, and temples of the
Edo period. Just like its neighboring
which has some noteworthy museums,
Morishita, too, has its fair share.
Among the best known of the museums
here is Matsuo Basho Museum, located
7 minutes walk from Morishita Station.
Basho (1644-1694), born Matsuo
Kinsaku, and also known by his samurai
name of Matsuo Munefusa,
was a travel writer and a poet of
the early Edo period. He is best
known as the poet who brought haiku
to the level of an art. Basho originally
lived in the nearby area of Fukagawa,
but moved to Morishita in 1680 as
he wanted a quieter place to write
in. He made his hermitage, named
Basho Iori Hermitage, in a place
along Sumida River between Shin-Ohashi
and Kiyosu Bridges. It is in this
same hermitage that Matsuo Basho
Museum is located.
small Matsuo Basho Museum exhibits
all materials and artifacts related
to Basho and his writings. Of particular
mention are the detailed maps that
Basho used for his travels on foot
in the then under-developed region
of Honshu. The museum also serves
as a literary center for research
and regularly holds meetings on
the art of haiku.
Basho Museum is open from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m. every day except Mondays.
the garden of the museum there is a small shrine. In a nearby back street there is the Basho Inari Shrine.
Inari Jinja Shrine
is said that after Basho wrote his
famous frog haiku, he was given
a stone frog by one of his disciples.
Basho treasures it so much that
he placed it near his hermitage.
With time, it was lost, but re-appeared
after a typhoon in 1917. The local
citizens, in honor of Basho, built
a shrine at the location and dedicated
it to Basho's spirit and to the
god Inari. Unfortunately the shrine
was burnt down during the WWII air
raids, and was rebuilt in its present
form in 1975. Replicas of the frog
have also been placed around the
shrine. Basho Inari Jinja Shrine
has been designated historic site
by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Basho Memorial Park
a few meters from the shrine is
Basho Memorial Park. This small
park is an elevated one and is reached
after climbing a short flight of
rugged stone stairs. On reaching
this terrace garden, one cannot
but hold one's breath at the beautiful
scene it offers of the river below
with Kiyosu Bridge spanning it.
In the center of the park is a bronze
statue of Basho placed on top of
a pedestal. All around are bamboo
and banana trees and a large variety
of other plants. Several Basho-themed
sketches have also been placed around
and Key Museum
Safe and Key Museum is one of the
other small museums located in the
area that is worth a visit. This
museum is dedicated to safes and
keys and has a good collection of
them. On display are both contemporary
and traditional Japanese locks and
keys as well as safes and chests.
Of special mention are the traditional
Japanese chests of the 17 th century,
chests only need keys to open them
as they automatically lock because
of the jamb-plate and button system
incorporated into the chest itself.
museum, which is located just 3
minutes from Morishita Station,
is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every
1 st and 3 rd Saturday and Sunday
of the month.