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Aki Meguri Old Tokaido Logbook:

September 30th, 2001 (Sunday):
From Past Akasaka to Okazaki

Note: In the original Aki Meguri pages, the Old Tokaido stage had separate journal entries on most days.  These have now been added at the bottom of this page.

 
Well, it was a strange day all around, with highs and lows.

It was moving day, so I spent the morning packing--and frustrated as usual at getting a late start.

But then a nice thing happened.  The board of the Youth Hostel where I was staying had been meeting all weekend in the Hostel.  This morning, they asked the usual questions--where are you going today, etc.  When one of them saw me getting ready to leave with my bags, he offered to drive me to the station!  I ended up having my picture taken by another board member--in front of the Hostel's sign--and got a great send-off, with board-of-directors members waving as the car pulled away.  I haven't had a send-off like that since the party on September 2nd.

Train, train, dropped my bag at Higashi Okazaki station, train, and finally I was walking at near-noon.

And it was raining.

Tonight I was surprised to discover that I had only taken a whopping nine pictures all day.  And you won't even see half of those.

I guess when it's raining, I keep the camera in the bag, so I take fewer random shots.  Also, I think you've had enough of the "this is what a house on the Old Tokaido looks like" kind of picture, so I'm saving myself for the unique.

Anyway, on with the show.

The first thing that caused me to pull out the camera today was this.  It's a lovely garden with some statues.  It's also the site of a former temple.  This started me thinking about old sites, restoration, etc.  The result of this thinking is in today's journal.

I continued up a very gradual incline until I came to a pass, complete with Route 1 truck stop.  Then the road led gently downward toward Fujikawa.

On the way I saw this pretty temple, Hozoji.  I was thinking about praying there, but decided to wait until Okazaki.  (This turned out to be a mistake.)  Hozoji has a sign claiming that as a boy Ieyasu studied there.  One wonders when, since he was sent to Shizuoka at the age of seven.  (See the September 20th Logbook for more on Ieyasu's life.)

Before long, I reached Fujikawa.  Now, this is a little confusing.  Back at Yoshiwara I crossed the Fuji River, or Fujikawa.  And here's a town by that name, over 170 kilometers away.

Time for a little Japanese lesson.  This Fujikawa--the post station--uses a character that means "wisteria."  The river in Yoshiwara uses the characters for the name of the mountain it flows from, Mt. Fuji.  So the first one, in Yoshiwara, was the "Mt. Fuji River"; this one is "Wisteria River."

Japanese has a lot of sounds which can be represented by different characters (we call these homophones in English, like to, two, and too).  This means the language can be rich in puns and double meanings.  It means it can also be darned difficult to learn.

A side note: Having two places with the same name is certainly not out of the question; how many "Springfields" are there in America?  But I wanted to point out that--in this case--the names are not the same, they just sound that way.

So here I am for my official shot of Fujikawa, station number 37 on the Old Tokaido.  I'm standing in front of a small museum, which they say used to be the waki honjin, or secondary Daimyo's inn.  

Here's the front of the same museum, close-up.  Wow, after seeing the waki-honjin in Maisaka, this one seems a bit--small.  The door was ajar, so I slid it open, and no one was in.  I took in the entire "museum" at a glance: one room with some pictures, and a showcase containing a model of the station.  That was it.  I stepped out again.

Not to say that the shuku itself isn't attractive.  It did have a great, old-fashioned flavor.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Fujikawa, Station #37 on the Old Tokaido

In this print we see a daimyo's procession approaching from the right, and commoners bowing, hats off, on the left.  There is some speculation that this is the actual procession that Hiroshige traveled in.  The Shogun and the Emperor exchanged gifts every year at the start of August, in celebration of the harvest.  The Shogun usually sent horses.  Hiroshige had joined the delivery procession for the year 1832.  He made his sketches along the way, then finished them later, back home in Edo.

Onward.  Trudge.  Trudge.  Trudge, trudge, trudge.  In intermittent rain.  Only six-and-a-half K to Okazaki.  I actually got there in good time, but the best laid plans...

First let me tell you what went right. Remember the "seven turns" in Kakegawa?  Well, Okazaki is said to have twenty-seven!  And the town fathers haven't done too good a job of marking the route.

So it's confession time: I kind of took the average through town, following a route down the center.  This saved time and frustration, and it allowed me to see some interesting signs and statues along the way.

Some background on all these turns: the usual interpretation is that they slowed down attacking armies.  But that seemed a little odd to me, because it seems likely that the actual street grid existed; it's just that these streets-and-turns were designated as the "official road."  Tokuriki (author of a guidebook I'm using) suggests another answer. He says that when two daimyo processions met, the retinue of the lower daimyo had to give way--and pay respects to the higher daimyo.  This was an embarrassment.  So when the road was windy, the outrunners of the lower daimyo's train could see the higher daimyo coming before his train saw them, and detour to avoid embarrassment.  This rings true to me.

Now, what went wrong?  Well, I couldn't find the temple where I wanted to pray.  And while I was looking, I got a phone call from "home" (Tokyo) about some old business I needed to deal with.  And while I dealt with it, it got dark.  I had hoped to pray, get my official shot by the castle (which was easy to find) and get some more miles covered before dark.  No such luck.

So I said your prayers at a small shrine, Hakusan (White Mountain) Jinja, in the "Shinto" style--which means no Buddhist chanting, just your prayers.  Then I caught a bus for Higashi Okazaki station, picked up my bag, train, train, Youth Hostel.  And here I am in Nagoya.

I'll write about Okazaki more tomorrow.

It spat, sputtered, and sprinkled off and on all day.  Now it's pelting down Noahically.  Tomorrow might be--ah--interesting.

 

Journal
Entry

Build My Church

One of my favorite saints is Saint Francis.  He's so--universal.  There are lots of legends around him, but one that has always intrigued me seems to be based in fact.

Soon after his conversion, he had a dream or vision in which Christ told him to "Build my church."  Here's what has always fascinated me: Francis took this literally, went out and found a ruined church, gathered a group of followers and rebuilt it.

Here's a guy who's famous as a church reformer, but he did it by first literally re-building a church.

It seems strange until you think about it.  "Follow me, I have some great ideas, I'll teach you a lot of cool stuff."  No takers.  "Follow me, we'll do something with a tangible result."  As we say in Japan, "pin-pon!"  A winner.

Churches are always more vital when the people have a project to work on.  When I was a boy, my church was burned down by an arsonist.  In an effort to rebuild, we operated a monthly "restaurant" in our parish hall (which also doubled as a temporary church).  I was a busboy.  I have never since seen a more vitalized congregation.

So today, when I walked by a garden that had some old stairs and a few statues, and was marked as the site of an old temple, I thought, "There's a building campaign waiting to happen."  Imagine the excitement!  The activity!  If some wandering priest came around and said, "Hey, folks, let's rebuild the temple!" it could radically transform the lives of all involved.

This inward/outward thing is unfathomable.  Starting with building a building, Saint Francis revitalized all Christendom.

 
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