Tokaido: The Eastern Sea Road
5th-October 9th, 2001
certain periods of her history, Japan was ruled, not by the emperor, but
by a military ruler known as the shogun.
One family, the Tokugawas, held power for around 250 years, from
about 1600 to the mid-nineteenth century.
The first Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu, had won his office through a
series of battles in the tumultuous Sengoku, or Warring States, Period.
Because his position was hard-won, he immediately began making
moves to consolidate his power and ensure the stability of the peace he
of his first such moves was to designate the Tokaido as the official
highway from his new capital, Edo (now Tokyo) to the ancient capital of
Kyoto where the largely-powerless and symbolic Emperor still resided.
Although the highway had existed for centuries, the Tokugawa shogunate
designated 53 stations between Nihombashi in
Edo and the Sanjo Bridge in Kyoto, and provided for the construction of
inns at these post stations, as well as general improvements of the road
the system was not completed until 1624, Ieyasu’s declaration was
issued in 1601, so I am walking in the 400th anniversary year
of the Tokaido.
Old Tokaido background pages consist of the following:
Where I went, What I saw
Other Logbook Stages: Prelude
Route: Nippori to Nihombashi, then through Ginza to
Shinagawa; also, people's reactions to my clothing, some
promises of what I'll (try to) do each day, a haiku,
and plenty of road stories
- Words-and-Pictures: Ginza
Route: Kawasaki to Hodogaya, downsizing, and a night at
Tom and Yuka's
- Words-and-Pictures: Soujiji
There will be no entry for today, because I didn't walk due to
the typhoon. I will tell you about the word
"typhoon" though: it's Japanese! Taifu is
made of two Chinese characters. The first is the opening
character of "Taiwan," and the second means
"wind." So taifu means "the wind from
18th, 2001 (Tuesday)
Route: From 1 ri before Chigasaki to Ninomiya
(between Oiso and Odawara).
- Words-and-Pictures: Joshoji
Route: From somewhere in Yoshiwara to past Yui
Route: From Yui (Satta Pass) to somewhere past Ejiri
- Words-and-Pictures: Seikenji
Route: From somewhere past Ejiri (Shimizu) to somewhere
- I took a day off! Read more about it
Route: Almost Kameyama to Almost Tsuchiyama
Route: Almost Tsuchiyama to Past Minakuchi
Next: The Yamato
(Japan Railways) has published an interesting site with history and
comparative pictures of the Tokaido “Past
and Present." This site is unfortunately in Japanese
only; however, anyone can appreciate the map and Edo-period images of the
famous artist Ando Hiroshige, placed side-by-side with images from later
periods, found here.
All 55 of Hiroshige’s prints (53
stations plus the start and end points) in multiple editions can be seen
on this users
page. He also includes other useful background on the prints.
in 1964, William Zacha spent over 20 years visiting the sites of the 53
stations and making beautiful, modern watercolors.
You can see serigraphs of these paintings—and, what’s more,
read his fascinating account of the project—on his homepage.
guidebook I used is in Japanese, but the maps are detailed enough to
allow me to follow the “original” route.
Also, plenty of landmarks are designated along the way.
It’s Kanzen Tokaido Gojusan Tsugi Gaido by Tokaido
Nettowaaku no Kai
interesting resource is Shank's
Mare. It's a comic novel by Ikku Jippensha about the
adventures of a couple of wise guys named Yaji-san and Kita-san as
they travel down the old road.
Written in 1802, it is in many ways a parody of the contemporary
guidebooks being sold at the time.
I must mention Oliver Statler’s book Japanese
Inn. (The book is
extensively summarized here.)
Dave Dutton, my trusted bookseller in Los Angeles, strongly
recommended it to me before I came to Japan.
I bought it, read it, and fell in love with the idea of walking
the Tokaido almost five years before I actually did it.
Not a guide to the road, the book gives an impression of the
importance of the highway in Japan’s history from the vantage point of
one historic inn in Okitsu, near Shizuoka.
By no small coincidence, Statler also wrote the book that has
inspired me to do the Shikoku pilgrimage as well, Japanese Pilgrimage.
Both of these books give impressions of Japan far beyond my poor
skills to impart.