Matsushima 松岛 is a very famous utamakura in Bashō’s Haiku. Matsushima is a group of islands in Miyagi Prefecture in Sendai city.
When comparing the Dai Nihon saiken dōchū zukan (lit. Detailed itinerary map of great Japan) in 1850 (above) and a modern day map, it is apparent that the location of Matsushima has not changed, but the surroundings have become very different.
As a famous utamakura, Matsushima is mentioned in Basho’s Haiku. One such poem is as follows.
morning and evening,
as if some one waits for me at mastsushima:
my unfulfilled love
asa yosa o / taga matsu shima zo/ kamiko kana (86)
Another passage from Barnhill’s Basho’s Journey written by Kawai Sora who travelled with Basho from The Narrow Road to the Deep North also mentions Matsushima.
borrow the wings of the crane,
Matsushima ya / tsuru ni mi o kare / hototogisu (61)
Both of these two haiku write about Matsushima. However, they did not directly describe the scenery of Matsushima, but related the place to their feelings. It seems like Matsushima is not simply a place, or meisho, but somewhere close to their heart.
Basho, Matsuo. and Barnhill, David Landis. Basho’s Haiku: Selected Poems of Matsuo Basho. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. Project MUSE. Web. 8 Mar. 2016. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Basho, Matsuo. and Barnhill, David Landis. Basho’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Basho. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005. Project MUSE. Web. 8 Mar. 2016. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.
All scenery images from http://japan.people.com.cn/n/2015/0507/c368549-26962640-7.html
Contributor: Ning Yang
(Edited by Elle Marsh)