My Favorites

My Tokyo Guide

See something interesting? Click on the heart button in the article to add a page from this site to My Favorites.

Main content starts here.

Updated: September 30, 2022

A poetic exploration of cultural Koto City

Fukagawa is a beautiful and historical part of Tokyo which is renowned for its link to the great haiku poet Basho (1644-1694). Walk in Basho’s footsteps and learn about his life in this area with a tour around Kiyosumi Shirakawa and Fukagawa.

General Tips

  • Kiyosumi Shirakawa is renowned for its love affair with good coffee. There is an abundance of coffee shops in and around the station area.
  • When walking on the banks of the Sumida River, take some photos of TOKYO SKYTREE which dominates the skyline.
  • Be sure to pick up the English pamphlet when visiting the Basho Museum. It gives a thorough overview of his life and works.

Map Legend

  • Walking
  • Taxi
  • Bus
  • Train
  • Water Bus
  • Bike


The gateway to the historical Fukagawa area of Tokyo

Kiyosumi Shirakawa Station Exit A3

Kiyosumi Shirakawa is a fascinating area of Tokyo, full of culture, coffee and history. Its backstreets are any urban explorer's dream come true, as you pass quaint cafes, arts and crafts stores, boutiques and a multitude of coffee shops. Fukagawa, which incorporates Monzen Nakacho and Kiyosumi Shirakawa, is perhaps best known, however, for its profound connection with legendary haiku poet Basho (famous for his masterpiece "Oku-no-Hosomichi") who moved here in 1680, and left his mark throughout the streets and alleys of the town.

Walking8 mins


The beginning of Basho's journey


Take the A3 exit of Kiyosumi Shirakawa Station, and as you come onto the street turn right and walk towards a statue of Basho. This spot is named Saito-an, and sits right next to the beginning of the Matsuo Basho Walk Path. Saito-an was a hut provided for Basho by one of his followers, Sanpu Sugiyama, and was originally located a short distance from the present site. It’s also where Basho started his epic journey in 1689, which inspired his most famous work, “Oku no Hosomichi,” or “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”

Walking1 min


A picturesque stroll in Basho's footsteps

Matsuo Basho Walk Path

A few steps from Saito-an is a charming walkway along the small Sendaibori River named Matsuo Basho Walk Path. This leads you all the way down to the banks of the great Sumida River, Tokyo's main water artery, and affords great views of TOKYO SKYTREE and the surrounding areas. As you walk down the narrow pathway there are wooden panels with haiku written delicately on them. They are, essentially, a reminder that Basho's work has remained in the Japanese consciousness for centuries and is still an important part of Japanese cultural life.

Walking11 mins


History comes alive at this beautiful spot

Mannen Bridge

The legendary Japanese artist Hokusai once painted Mannen Bridge in the early 1830s. It's a quaint old bridge which takes you on the road down to Basho Inari Shrine. From Mannen Bridge you'll have access to some very photogenic spots so, naturally, it's perfect for photography and art lovers.

Walking4 mins


Commemorating Basho and his legacy

Basho Inari Shrine

Once you cross Mannen Bridge, there's a small shrine on your left named Basho Inari Shrine which was created in 1917 as a tribute to the great man himself. It's unclear where the actual location of Basho's residence was in Fukagawa, but when a tsunami hit the area and a stone frog was found it gave cultural historians a clue that he might have lived around this location. Basho was a huge fan of frogs and visitors to Fukagawa will find frogs as a visual leitmotif running throughout the town.

Walking2 mins


A rooftop idyll with great views of the Sumida River

Basho Memorial Outlook Garden

A few meters from Basho Inari Shrine is the very charming and quaint Basho Memorial Outlook Garden. It overlooks the Sumida River and majestic Kiyosubashi Bridge, and has some nice monuments and interesting history about Basho and his work. This compact rooftop garden is also an ideal resting spot after walking from the station and along the riverside. As well as officially being part of the nearby Basho Museum, it's also said to be one of Basho's former residences in Fukagawa and is a vital stop on the Basho tour around Kiyosumi Shirakawa.

Walking2 mins


An informative and engaging memorial to Basho and his work

Basho Museum

Any trip to Fukagawa wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Basho Museum. With friendly and accommodating staff, and an informative pamphlet and an audioguide in English, it's a fascinating tribute to Basho, his travels throughout Japan and his enduring legacy. With banana trees (Basho literally translates as “banana tree”) planted outside the entrance and cute toy frogs decorating the lobby, it's an endearing nod to Basho's rich cultural importance to the local area. You can also buy T-shirts and items which relate to Basho. It holds the original stone frog found after the 1917 tsunami, a myriad of memorabilia and artifacts from Basho's life and afterwards, and shows, through detailed maps, his great walk from Fukagawa throughout the northern parts of Japan. Although the descriptions and information are in Japanese, it's still of great interest to anyone interested in Basho, haiku, poetry or Japanese history.
One of Basho's haiku encapsulates the experience of walking throughout Kiyosumi Shirakawa and on the same trail he took centuries ago.
I'm a wanderer
so let that be my name -
the first winter rain
Basho was indeed a wanderer. A man who walked, observed and transformed his experiences into haiku so great and so well loved and admired by a country that he's still revered today. Fukagawa is a magical area of Tokyo. Peaceful, traditional, historical and welcoming, it makes for a perfect day trip in the capital. As you walk from the station, down the pathway, onto the banks of the Sumida River and past the shrine and museum it becomes evident that Basho, in a way, is still living and present in this district. His work lives on and his legacy has been passed down to the new generation of poets who take similar inspiration from these streets and areas like it.

Your current location: