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This article is taken from PN Review 229, Volume 42 Number 5, May - June 2016.

Encounters with Bashō 15 Emily Grosholz
If you fly into Tokyo, and then drive along its freeways to a downtown hotel, and then stare from your hotel room on the top floor out at the serried skyscrapers shimmering against the night sky, you might well misunderstand the city. Behind the towers and apartment buildings and crowded houses, there is a square myriad of green spaces hidden away, but you must set out on foot to discover them. If you walk around behind, for example, the lovely Rihga Royal Hotel, you find Okuma Garden next to Waseda University, created by Shigenobu Okuma, who also founded the university in 1882. His statue looks out over the lawn, the lotus-covered pond, and the paths studded with small stone pagodas and lanterns. Skirting the edge of the hotel and heading west along Shin-Mejiro Street, noting the old-fashioned street cars, you should keep an eye out for errant bicyclists, who don’t really obey the traffic rules though, laden with groceries or small children, seem to be having a good time. In two blocks, if you look carefully to the left past well-disguised entrances, you come to the threefold pond and tree-crowded hill of the garden Kansen-En, so beautiful in early winter that it brought tears to my eyes. Situated next to the Shinto Misu Inari Shrine, whose origins lie a thousand years in the past, the garden was created in 1774 for the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan from 1603–1868 and defined the Edo Period. The city of Tokyo, which now encircles thirty million inhabitants, began ...


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