|I left the Hostel
earlier than usual today, and covered quite a bit of ground as a result.
I took the train back to Hamamatsu station, had breakfast, and started
The first part of the day was 10
kilometers with virtually no sites to see. As Red Skelton used to
say, "There was miles and miles of nuthin' but miles and miles."
I did find this noodle shop interesting, though. It's an
old okura, or storage house, converted into a restaurant.
Approaching Maisaka, though, the day got
more interesting, and fast. Maisaka boasts the prettiest namiki--tree-lined
street--that I've seen so far. To add to the charm, there are 12
statues along the way, representing the twelve animals of the Chinese
zodiac. Each has a poem on its back ( I wish I could read
Japanese!). I've shown the Snake below left, this year's sign.
At the end of the namiki is a
little plaza with a restroom and some benches. It also features
this statue of "Namiko," above right. I have no idea who Namiko is,
but it was cute. (I photographed the plaque; any volunteers want
to read it and tell me the story?)
These simple stone walls mark the entrance
to the Maisaka shuku, or station. They made me think
that this one would have a lot to see. Unfortunately, aside from a
map in a little park, the only real Edo-period attraction is the waki
honjin discussed below.
I thought this lantern was
interesting, though; why didn't they put the light inside the
I'm standing in front of the door of
the waki honjin, or secondary official inn, for my official
shot for Maisaka, station number 30 on the Old Tokaido. Built
sometime between 1830 and 1844, this old inn has been restored to its
original appearance. You can see the interior on the Words
and Pictures page.
Hiroshige's Tokaido: Maisaka, Station
the Old Tokaido
Maisaka is located to the east of Lake
Hamanako. Tokaido travelers went by boat to the next station,
Arai. You'll learn more about this below.
Since Hiroshige's print features boats,
I thought I'd show you what some of the local fishing boats look
Maisaka used to have three "water
stairs" or boat ramps. The northernmost is still
Today I did a very bad thing for the
first time. I left my stick behind! It was only for a
I had taken this picture and returned
to the wharf, walking toward the bridge that leads to Bentenjima
station. Remembering my stick, I turned abruptly around. An
old gentleman stopped me to tell me that it was OK, I could go straight
ahead, it wasn't a dead end. "Thank you," I said,
"but I forgot my walking stick!" "I see," he
said, and rode off on his scooter.
Remember, the pilgrim's stick is
Kobo Daishi. All henro are admonished never to forget it.
And I had to admit my sin to another person!
So there it was, leaning all lonely
against a stone wall. I apologized profusely, even though it had
been less than 90 seconds!
From the bridge, one can see this
"floating torii." Presumably Bentenjima (Benten
Island) has a shrine to Benten, the only woman of the Seven Lucky Gods
(whom you saw nude on Sept.
I gave myself a break today.
Since ancient wayfarers jumped on a boat from Maisaka to Arai, I jumped
on a train. It is now possible to walk across this strait
between Lake Hamanako and the ocean on bridges, but traditionally it
wasn't. So I went with tradition--and eased my feet.
By the way, until 1499 Hamanako was
landlocked. In that year an earthquake and its tidal wave (tsunami)
breached the natural dike between the two. This opening, called Imagire
("now severed") has long been avoided by prospective brides,
as it's feared the place name will lead to marital breakup in the
Araimachi station, it's about a half a kilometer over land to the Arai
Sekisho, or barrier station. Interestingly, the boats from
Maisaka used to pull up right at the barrier station; it's all been
filled in since.
Here's my official shot for
Arai--where I'm currently living. I walk past the barrier to get
to the train station every day. You can learn more about the
barrier on the Words and Pictures
Hiroshige's Tokaido: Arai, Station
the Old Tokaido
More boats. We're still on the
shores of Lake Hamanako.
After visiting the station, I walked
through the rest of the shuku, which, while quaint, contains only
stone markers--nothing else of the old station remains. I walked
past my turnoff to the youth hostel, and down to Highway 1.
Believe me, at 4:40 it was tempting just to go home! I hate making
these mature decisions--but I got in another hour and a half of walking.
Plus, I still needed to say your
prayers, which I did at Kyouonji. Again, no one was
there, so there's little to tell you about it. The gate was a real
treat, but the main hall was nothing special.
However, I suspect the temple may have
an interesting history. Across the street is this well; if
I'm reading my Japanese guidebook correctly, Minamoto Yoritomo-- the
first shogun ever, and founder of the Kamakura Shogunate--drew water
from this well and made tea. If the temple was there at the time,
perhaps he had his tea in its garden?
Pushing on toward Shirasuka, I turned off
to chase after more Old Stones. These are the remains of a temple
called Momijidera. I know nothing about it except that it
has something to do with the Ashikaga shogun Yoshinori. But at the
top of the stairs, I saw these four stones--usually the bases for gate
posts. Evocative. The statues and grave stones
below were the only
other things above ground.
I toiled on as it grew dark, stopping
about a half a kilometer from Shirasuka--at the bottom of what looks to
be a nasty slope.
Walking out to Highway 1, I caught the
6:19 bus back to Kyouonji. From there it was a little over a kilometer's
walk to the hostel.
Tomorrow I'll catch the 9:39 back to
the bottom of that slope, and push on. (The previous bus, at 7:55,
is a big "no way"--too early! As you can see by this
schedule, out in the country, buses can be
infrequent--even at rush hour.)