There is a stone-paved road remaining in Ochiai, Nakatsugawa City, Gifu Prefecture. In the late Edo period (1603-1868), stone-pavement work was given to the road between Ochiai Jikkyoku Pass and Magome-juku Post Station of the Nakasendo Road, because this section was very steep and difficult to go through.
According to the historical record, the pavement was repaired for the procession of Princess Kazunomiya, who was on her journey to Edo for the marriage to the emperor in 1861. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), a part of the pavement was cleared away for a construction work, as a result of which only a part of the original pavement remained.
In 1988, a restoration work was given to the section of 840 m in total length. Together with the historic sites of Honjin and the large iron pot in Ochiai-juku Post Station and the stone monument inscribed with “Kisoji Road, further ahead” written by Toson Shimazaki, a novelist in the Meiji period, this stone-paved road will bring the travelers back to the old times.
A long and steep approach way continues from JR Kotohira Station to the Main Sanctuary of Kotohira-gu Shrine halfway up Mt. Zozusan in Kotohira-cho, Kagawa Prefecture.
Since the Edo period (1603-1868) up to the present time, the pilgrimage to Kotohira-gu Shrine, or familiarly called Konpira-san, has been a pleasure for Japanese people as well as that to Ise Shrine. Lined with souvenir shops and eating houses, the approach way to the shrine is always bustling with visitors. To the south of the stone steps stands the Old Konpira Oshibai Kabuki Theater “Kanamaruza,” where pilgrims to the Kotohira-gu Shrine enjoyed kabuki plays in the days when entertainment was extremely scarce.
The approach way has the famous 365 stone steps to the Daimon Gate and further 421 stone steps to the Main Sanctuary. Passing through the Daimon Gate and climbing up further, you will at last get to a grand shrine building. But don’t make haste. It’s not the Main Shrine yet. It is a sub-shrine, Asahi-sha, which is famous for the episode that once Mori no Ishimatsu, a famous yakuza of the Edo period, mistook it for the Main Shrine and dedicated the sword that he was entrusted by his boss. There area many historic buildings including the Main Shrine a little further ahead of it.
Kinu no Michi, or Japanese Silk Road, is a highway connecting Hachiouji City to Tokyo and Yokohama City of Kanagawa Prefecture and it follows the same journey as today’s Route 16.
Hachiouji City had been known as Souto (translated as the city of mulberry) since old times and thrived with the production of raw silk. In 1859, as Yokohama opened its port to limited foreign trade, raw silk became an important export and Hachiouji became a vital hub for raw silk merchants from Nagano and Yamanashi area.
The road frequently used for the raw silk trade was called Yarimizu-kaidou or Hama-kaidou, but because the road was what the Silk Road was to the Asian continent, it later became known as Kinu no Michi, or Japanese Silk Road.
The road has been recognized for its historical importance and some parts of the road and vicinity were restored and preserved. In Yarimizu region of Hachiouji, there is the Silk Road Museum built inside the ruins of the mansion of a famous raw silk merchant.
The Silk Road is a valuable historical record that has many stories to tell of the silk trade merchants in late Edo period and the Meiji era to this day.
The city of Chiryu in Aichi Prefecture was the 39th of 53 post stations on the Old Tokaido Road from 1601 to the end of the Edo period. In 1604, the Tokugawa Shogunate ordered to plant pine trees on both sides of the Tokaido Road except the zones in the settlements. The row of pine trees protected travelers from the sunlight in summer and cold wind and snow in winter.
Today, as many as 170 pine trees continuing about 500 meters remain in Chiryu City. Byways built on both sides of the row were used for resting horses that were brought to a horse market. The prosperity of the horse market can be inferred from the stone monument erected in the market ruins site to the south of the road and Ando Hiroshige’s “The Fifty-three Post Stations of the Tokaido Road; Chiryu.” The row of pine trees was designated as a city’s cultural property in 1969.
The Mutsukami-kaido Road connects Ichinoseki on the Oshu-kaido Road and the Dewa-kaido Road via Kurikoma, Ichihasama-Masaka and Iwadeyama. It is a nationally designated Historic Site. The road is well-known as the ancient route of the Oku no Hosomichi, which Basho Matsuo used on a Haiku journey coming back from Hiraizumi in 1686. Currently, this ancient route has been partly paved with stones and restored, but still remains quiet, surrounded with old trees. The name “Oku-no-hosomich (the narrow road to the deep north)” sounds just apposite. It reminds us of good old days.
Kanpachi Gorge is a scenic spot extending 2.6 km from the Hirato Bridge to Koshido Dam in the mid-stream of the Yahagi River in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. It is counted as one of the ten scenic spots in Aichi Prefecture.
Before the dam was constructed, the torrent ran through the sheer cliffs with oddly-shaped stones and rocks. It used to be famous for rafting to carry lumbers to lumber dealers’ shops in Fuso Town and the lumberyard in Dodo Town in the down stream of the river. A lot of historic sites including groups of kofun are dotting around the gorge.
Surrounded with cherry trees and azalea trees, the dam lake is visited by a lot of people in the blooming seasons. It is also a popular spot for canoeing as well as for boating and fishing. Its clear water is suitable for various outdoor activities.
Miya-juku was the 41st of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in current Atsuta-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Located at the interchange point of the Tokaido, its byroad Saya Kaido, and Minoji, which was a byroad of the Nakasendo Road, the town was always bustling with travelers. As Miya-juku was also a cathedral town of Atsuta Jingu Shrine, a lot of worshippers came to this town from all over the country. Hence, there were 248 inns, which was the largest in number on the Tokaido Road at the time, and 2 honjin inns in Miya-juku. One of the sub-honjin is now preserved as a city’s designated cultural property “the Residence of the Niwa Family.”
The only ferry service on the Tokaido Road was provided between Miya-juku and Kuwana-juku. As it was 7 ri (about 27 km) between the two ports, the ferry service was called “Shichi-ri no Watashi.”
Koedo, which literally means “little Edo,” is nickname given to the townscape that is similar to the thriving town of Edo (present-day Tokyo). Since the Edo period (1603-1868), people often boast their own hometown saying “It’s like Edo.” The old folk song handed down in Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture goes, “There are plenty of Shokyoto in the country, but Koedo is Kawagoe alone.” Or, the one in Sawara City in Chiba Prefecture goes, “If you want to see Edo, why don’t you come to Sawara? Honcho in Sawara is superior to Edo.”
However, the word “Koedo” was created in the recent times. In 1986, the cities of Tochigi, Kawagoe and Sawara held “the Koedo Summit,” and they declared those cities to be called “Koedo,” which attracted attention of the country.
The best known “Koedo” cities today are Tochigi City in Tochigi Prefecture, which is famous as a castle town and for its townscape of old-fashioned storehouses, Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture, which used to be the castle town of Kawagoe Castle, part of which was composed of the building used at Edo Castle, and Sawara City in Chiba Prefecture, which is famous for its Sawara Taisai (grand festival) and is selected as a Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Others include Otaki Town in Ishumi-gun, Chiba Prefecture, Atsugi City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Iwata City in Shizuoka Prefecture and Hikone City in Shiga Prefecture.