Musashino Plain


Musashino Plain 武蔵野

The Kantō Plain (関東平野 Kantō heiya)
is the largest plain in Japan located in the Kanto Region of central Honshū. The total area 17,000 km2 covers more than half of the Region extending over Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture, Kanagawa Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Gunma Prefecture, and Tochigi Prefecture.

A collection of plateaus constitute a large part of the plain. Among them are the Ōmiya, Musashino, Sagamino, and Jōsō Plateaus. These large plateaus are divided into smaller ones by shallow river valleys. One of the common features of the plateaus is that their surfaces are covered with a thick layer of loam of volcanic origin. Volcanic ashes from surrounding volcanoes, Mounts Asama, Haruna, and Akagi to the north and Mounts Hakone and Fuji to the south, are thought to have been deposited on these plateaus.

Among the plateaus, the Musashino Plateau has the largest stretch of land, extending from the western edge of Ōme to the eastern edge of Yamanote which borders alluvial plains of the Arakawa and Sumida Rivers. Its elevation gradually declines from west to east, measuring 190 m at Ōme and 20 m at Yamanote.
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source : www.city.fujimino.saitama.jp
Musashino in the Edo period 武蔵野図


Coppice Woods And Sustainable Recycling Agriculture
From west to northwest of Tokyo spreads a vast plateau-like plain called Musashino Uplands. Today the plain has altered to an ever sprawing suburban residential area so that its potential nature is not clearly observable. The uplands are a part of Kanto Plain, but a little higher than lower alluvial plain, so their natural enviroinment exhibits a rather different look from the typical farm villages with rice paddies.

Musashino is a tableland where no waters are found, not even a tiny stream. You might be surprised since Japan is a water-rich country. But not here. Rain falls, of course, but it will be completely absorbed in the earth and no trace will be left. People were forced to make great effort to make living in the old days. Actually people did not live here until about 300 years ago; unimaginable from today's crowded condition.

Well-Known Coppice Woods
What made Muasashino region well-known were its coppice woods called zokibayashi. In Meiji period (about 100 years ago), writers found beauty in this deciduous woods. They praised its tranquility, especially in the winter, when leaves have fallen and they could ramble freely through the woods.

Musashino's coppice woods are fun to walk through. First because unlike woods in other parts of Japan, they are completely flat. You do not need to gasp on slopes nor sweat heavily. Second, their floors were scrupusously swept, so the ground was smooth and easy to walk. Third, the area's population was scarce in the old days, and the inside the woods it should have been very nice and tranquil.
source : shizen/natureguide



. Fuchuu matsuri 府中祭 Fuchu Festival .
kigo for early summer

May 5 at the shrine Ookunitama 大国魂神社 Okunitama Jinja

This used to be the main shrine of the Musashino plain and six regional shrines have their representative shrine halls there too.


Musashino ya sawaru mono naki kimi ga kasa

the Musashino plain -
nothing to interfere now
with your traveler's hat

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written after 貞亨元年, Basho age 41 or older

Basho was seeing off Toosan トウ山, a disciple from Ogaki, Gifu.
岐阜大垣. He was on his way back to Ogaki and Basho write this hokku for him.
The name of the disciple was maybe Toosan 塔山 Tosan.
Now in late autumn, his friend will have a pleasant journey back home.
sawaru can be written with two Chinese characters,
「触る- touch 」 or 「障る - hinder」, with a slightly different touch to the meaning.


Musashino ya issun hodo na shika no koe

Musashino plain -
a deer's call reaches only
about one sun

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 延宝3年, Basho age 32
In the vastness of Musashino plain, even the voice of a deer is very small and does not carry far.

issun 一寸 about 3 cm

MORE - places visited by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Genjuan no ki 幻住庵記
The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling

Spring is over, but I can tell it hasn't been gone for long. Azaleas continue in bloom, wild wisteria hangs from the pine trees, and a cuckoo now and then passes by. I even have greetings from the jays, and woodpeckers that peck at things, though I don't really mind-in fact, I rather enjoy them. I feel as though my spirit had raced off to China to view the scenery in Wu or Chu, or as though I were standing beside the lovely Xiao and Xiang rivers or Lake Dongting. The mountain rises behind me to the southwest and the nearest houses are a good distance away.

Fragrant southern breezes blow down from the mountain tops, and north winds, dampened by the lake, are cool. I have Mount Hie and the tall peak of Hira, and this side of them the pines of Karasaki veiled in mist, as well as a castle, a bridge, and boats fishing on the lake. I hear the voice of the woodsman making his way to Mount Kasatori, and the songs of the seedling planters in the little rice paddies at the foot of the hill.

Fireflies weave through the air in the dusk of evening, clapper rails tap out their notes-there's surely no lack of beautiful scenes. Among them is Mikamiyama, which is shaped rather like Mount Fuji
and reminds me of my old house in Musashino,
while Mount Tanakami sets me to counting all the poets of ancient times who are associated with it. Other mountains include Bamboo Grass Crest, Thousand Yard Summit, and Skirt Waist. There's Black Ford village, where the foliage is so dense and dark, and the men who tend their fish weirs, looking exactly as they're described in the Man'yoshu.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


月岡芳年 Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Musashino ya inu no kouka mo tsuki sashite

Not a dog-shit not stabbed
by a moonbeam
on Musashi plain

Tr. Robin D. Gill

Musashino ni sumai-awasete aki no tsuki

on Musashino plain
all the homes are connected -
autumn moon

. Kobayashi Issa  小林一茶 .


yama wa kurete no wa tasogare no susuki kana

Mountains have darkened,
and the field, in a twilight
with pampas grass!

Tr. Sawa/ Shiffert

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


Musashino no tori kuru matsu no shin mugen

birds of Musashino plain
coming to the pine candles -

. Hasegawa Kanajo 長谷川かな女 .


Musashino ya sakura momiji ni yoru no ame

Musashino Plain -
red leaves of cherries
in evening rain

Tr. Gabi Greve

bobona ぽぽな

. Red autumn leaves, red leaves (momiji) .


. Festivals, Ceremonies, Rituals - SAIJIKI .



Gabi Greve said...

Musashi no Kuni 武蔵国 Musashi Province
Bushuu 武州 Bushu


Gabi Greve said...

Kichijoojimura 吉祥寺村 Kichijo-Ji village
武蔵野市 Musashino-Shi 吉祥寺 Kichijoji, 北 Kita, 南 Minami, 東 Higashi districts