The Narrow Road to the Deep North Places Discussed

Matsuo Munefusa

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Fukagawa (foo-kah-gah-wah). Suburb on the outskirts of Tokyo, when it was known as Edo, that was the poet Matsuo Bash’s home. After selling his home, he set out on a journey to the provinces of the far north of Honsh, the central and largest island of Japan. Several of his closest friends and students accompanied him a few miles up the Sumida River. There, they left him and he set out walking with one companion, Kawai Sora.


*Oshukaid (oh-shew-ki-doh). Great north road that stretches up the eastern coastal plain of Honsh. Oshukaid led to the remote province of Oshu, at the northeastern end of the island of Honsh. Bash followed this road for six weeks.

*Shirakawa barrier

*Shirakawa barrier (shee-rah-kah-wah). Checkpoint along the north road where all travelers had to stop. The barrier marked the boundary between the cultured world dominated by Edo and the wild lands of the north.


*Ichinoseki (ee-chee-noh-seh-kee). Village in Oshu Province where Bash turned inland to travel west into the rugged mountains and forests. In the mountains, he met the Yamabushi, hermit priests, and spent a week in their sanctuary.


*Hokurikud (hoh-kew-ree-kew-doh). Highway along the western Japan Sea coast of Honsh. Bash walked this road back toward the south for two and half months.


*Ogaki (oh-gah-kee). The town in Mino Province, in southern Honsh, where Bash finished his journey in October, 1689.