|Because the youth
hostel is said to be a 25-minute walk from the station--and because of
that 25 kilo bag--I took a taxi to the youth hostel last night.
Returning on foot to the station this morning, I was surprised to
discover that I was walking the Old Tokaido, right past the Arai
Barrier--which I'll visit tomorrow. Although virtually all of my
lodging has been near the Tokaido, this is the first time I've used it
to get back to the station!
I returned to Iwata by train.
This little guy was having the time of his life; he'd watch for a while,
then run back and give his mom a breathless--and loud--report, then run
up and watch some more.
From Iwata station, I took a bus back
toward Mitsuke to Totomi Kokubunji.
took hold in Japan during the Nara period, Emperor Shomu began a drive
to build one monastery and nunnery in each province of the growing
country. He is the same Emperor who, in 745, instigated the
building of the Great Buddha in Nara, which I'll visit next month.
The Great Buddha is at Todaiji, which was the head temple of the
provincial temple system. These temples were called "Kokubunji."
Koku means country, and it was the designation of a province.
(Shikoku, where I'll go for my pilgrimage, means four countries--and it has four Kokubunji
Because this was the first Kokubunji
of the trip, I took my official shot for Mitsuke here.
(Even though the name "Mitsuke" refers to the fact that it's
the first place from which you can see Mt. Fuji if traveling from Kyoto,
I couldn't see Fuji, so this is it for official photos.
Also, Hiroshige did another river crossing--no way.)
A little more about provinces being
called countries: of course in the early days for all practical purposes
it was true--they were separate countries. National
unification didn't come until Hideyoshi and Ieyasu in the 16th and 17th
centuries. But Shomu's move was a step in the right direction.
However, to this day many
of my friends talk about returning to their "country" for the
holidays. (Being a pain in the neck, I often say: "Your
country! Aren't you Japanese?" Yuk, yuk, yuk.)
By the way, another reading of the kanji
(Chinese character) for koku is kuni.
I said your prayers here, but the guy
who was supposed to sign my book left a few hundred years ago!
Also, I reflect on this place in today's special illustrated Words
Hiroshige's Tokaido: Mitsuke, Station
the Old Tokaido
The crossing of the Tenryugawa.
See below for more about this river and its bridge.
More Ozymandian sights (see today's
journal): This tree near Iwata station is all that remains from a
temple that was located here several hundred years ago.
This statue is wearing clothes used for
traditional matsuri (festivals). I guess it's tolerable
that they used a Western-faced model for traditional clothing,
but why did they have to pose her like she was doing the Lambada?
At long last, SHOES! I
passed this place the size of a small Wal-Mart with a sign stating
"Shoes and Bags." I went in and found New Balance
tennies my size! My feet are mildly relieved, but the big plus is
that there is less wear-and-tear on my ankles, knees, and hips.
And in the parking lot, as well as
right across the street, are monuments to ichirizuka
(milestones). A truly Tokaidoan store.
So I get to the Tenryugawa (a
cool name: Heaven Dragon River). The closest bridge to the old
ferry crossing has absolutely no place to walk. The next one north
has a narrow lane. It's a long bridge, so I'm a little nervous.
But I get across no problem. I take a seat for a few minutes, get
up, cross at the light, and there's where I almost get creamed by
a car. When I say almost, I mean almost. This lady was
turning right (North Americans, think "left"; they drive on
the wrong side here, like most of the world). There's a lot of
traffic going straight through the signal, me along with it. She
sees a break in the cars and jumps on it--straight at me. She was
within a meter of me when I did the world's fastest moonwalk--running
backwards--and bowed to let her pass. Oddly, I was whistling at
the time and never missed a note.
Anyway, this long bridge is just a bit
upstream from the ferry crossing shown in Hiroshige's print (above).
The one I show here is the older, southern bridge--the one with no
Once something comes up, it seems to
come up again and again: here's a wall painting of a kago (see
I vowed to drink no alcohol on this
trip. Is it starting to get to me, or does this building near
Hamamatsu station look like a beer bottle to you, too? (PS:
There's a bad joke here. The Japanese word for beer--biru--sounds
a lot like the common word for building--biiru. So is this
the biru biiru?)
Hamamatsu, I stopped in a chain restaurant called Gusto for a late
lunch/early dinner (linner?). The wind started to blow while I was
in side; I saw parked bicycles turning circles around their kickstands.
(Funny, I thought, I'm watching gusts while sitting in Gusto. Har,
By the time I got to the station, I was
seeing bikes being knocked down. So instead of fighting the wind
and heading up to the castle (well off the Old Tokaido), I decided to do
my official shot next to this marker for the honjin (official
inn). It's on a busy corner, in front of a department store.
You won't usually see this: an
official shot with my bare head exposed to the elements. But
the wind was so strong that it was the only way. You can see my
"shirt" being ruffled by the wind. Also, if I seem to be
laughing, it's because I am. I'm watching a man chase a baseball
cap down the street. (If a baseball cap went that far, imagine
what my hat would do.) Somewhere, James Thurber laments the
passing of men's hats as a fashion element, because they brought so much
joy to other people on windy days! Hiroshige thought so too; his
print for Yokkaichi
(#43, to be seen later in the trip) shows a man chasing a hat like mine.
Hiroshige's Tokaido: Hamamatsu, Station
the Old Tokaido
Well, at least they're not crossing
water! These guys are having a smoke break next to a pine.
"Hamamatsu" means "beach pine."
That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll
walk from Hamamatsu to--I hope--this hostel where I'm staying.
Then set out straight from here the next day, with no trains--luxury!