Kameyama-juku was the 46th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in the eastern part of current Kameyama City in Mie Prefecture. The town thrived as a post town and a castle town as well. There are a lot of historic sites such as the ruins of Kameyama Castle including the ruins of Edoguchi-mon Gate and Kyoguchi-mon Gate and the site where the Ishii brothers gained revenge.
In Ando Hiroshige’s “Kameyama” of his “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road,” he depicted a procession of a feudal lord ascending a steep hillside, under deep snow among the trees, to the entrance to Kameyama Castle. The brightness of snow is wonderfully expressed in this monochromatic ink painting, but at the same time we can’t help realizing keenly how hard it was to make a journey in those days.
Presently, there are many historic constructions remaining in the town. These remnants of an ancient castle town include a temple, which used to be a part of the castle compound, old samurai houses, and the right-angled streets.
Zuiunzan Honkoji Temple, about ten minutes’ walk from JR Mitsugane Station in Koda Town, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Soto sect. It was founded in 1528 by Matsudaira Tadasada, the founder of the Fukozu Matsudaira clan, which was one of the 14 sub-clans of the Matsudaira clan. The principal object of worship is Shaka Nyorai. The statues of Jizo Bosatsu and Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Kannon with 1,000 arms) attending Shaka Nyorai on both sides are said to have been carved by the 12th-century master sculptor, Unkei.
Going along the front approach and passing by a small old shrine on your right, you will get to the red-painted main gate in the Yakui-mon style. Beyond the main gate lie the mausoleums of the Matsudaira clan on both sides of the path. The main hall is a landscape building. The small bell made of alloyed gold, silver and copper is hung under the eaves of the main hall. It was made under the order of Matsudaira Tadatoshi in the early 17th century.
Known as “the Temple of Hydrangea,” it is famous for hydrangea as well as plum and camellia. In June, the front approach and the precinct are covered with wonderful hydrangea flowers.
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.
Zuinenji Temple in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, is a temple of the Jodo sect. The principal object of worship is Amida Nyorai and Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (Bosatsu with 1,000 arms). It is the 2nd temple of Mikawa Pilgrimage to the 33 Holy Place of Kannon.
Founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1562, the temple is associated with the Tokugawa clan and his ancestry family, the Matsudaira clan. The temple was founded to hold a memorial service for Ieyasu’s grandfather, Matsudaira Kiyoyasu, and his grandaunt and Kiyoyasu’s sister, Hisako, who brought up Ieyasu for a long time after his mother O-Dai-no-kata was dead. Among several temples and shrines that were constructed on the hill over the Tokaido Road, Zuinenji Temple received special protection by the Tokugawa Shogunate as the defense base to guard the castle.
Going through the four-legged main gate and walk along the front approach surrounded with beautiful white clay walls, you will get to the two storied gate with 1-bay and 1-entrance, beyond which you will see old and historic temple buildings.
Goyu-juku was the 35th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in current Goyu-cho, Toyohashi City, Aichi Prefecture. It is confirmed that the vermillion-seal letter to order the requisitioning of horses for official use was issued to this town in 1601, from which we know Goyu-juku was established in the same year as the Tokaido Road was built. According to this vermillion-seal letter, the towns of Goyu and Akasaka should form one post station altogether, for which reason there were four Honjins at the maximum and two at least.
Located at the interchange point of the Tokaido Road and the Hime Kaido Road (the popular name for the Honzaka Kaido), Goyu-juku and Akasaka-juku thrived as entertainment centers in the area. In Ando Hiroshige’s Ukiyoe painting, the scene of meshimori onna (rice serving woman at inns and also prostitutes) competing each other to capture the travelers is depicted. In fact, it is said that there was a fierce rivalry in winning customers between Goyu-juku and Akasaka-juku, which was only 1.7 km away and became an independent post town later.
Presently, the row of pine trees called “Goyu no Matsu-namiki” remains along the ancient road between Goyu and Akasaka.
Shono-juku was the 45th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in current Suzuka City in Mie Prefecture. It was in 1601 when Tokugawa Ieyasu embarked on the improvement of the existing inland trail from Edo to Kyoto as the Tokaido Road; however Shono-juku was designated as a post station in 1624, the year when the improvement was completed. As it was less than 4 km to the next Ishiyakushi-juku and people usually took other routes from the forked point in Hinaga in the east and Seki in the west, the town was rather deserted. Furthermore, most of the travelers who passed by this town only took a rest and did not stay here. For these reasons, the management of the post town was in a slump and the Shogunate decreased the number of workers and horses for official use from 100 to 50 respectively. Contrary to its unprofitable operation, the painting “Shono” by Ando Hiroshige is one of the most popular paintings in his “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.”
Sakashita-juku was the 47th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was located in the western part of present Kameyama City in Mie Prefecture and at the eastern foot of Suzuka Pass, which was in the border of present Mie and Shiga Prefectures and was a famous choke point of the Tokaido Road, being ranked with Hakone Pass.
The post town was originally located near Katayama Shrine right at the foot of the pass. However, as the town was destroyed by the avalanche of rocks and earth caused by the flood of 1650, it was moved to the present place. With a large inns including the honjin (exclusive to daimyo and nobilities) and the sub-honjin lining along the road, the town was so thriving as to be sung in a magouta (packhorse driver’s song), which meant “Otakeya, the honjin, is too prestigious for us, commoners, but I wish I could stay at Kotakeya, the sub-honjin, at least.”
Once, Ando Hiroshige, a famous Ukiyoe painter in the Edo period, painted a picture of the town after the relocation. In this picture, Hiroshige successfully expressed the steepness of Mt. Fudesuteyama (literally meaning “giving up a paint brush mountain”), which had been named after the episode that a master painter of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), Kano Motonobu, threw away his painting brush because he could not express the beauty of the mountain.
Tsuchiyama-juku was the 43rd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road. It is now ex-Tsuchiyama-cho in Koga City, Shiga Prefecture. The post station was located at the western foot of Suzuka Pass, which was a famous choke point of the Tokaido Road. As was sung in an old popular song, there was high rainfall in this area. Ando Hiroshige, a famous Ukiyoe painter in the Edo period (1603-186), also painted a picture “Spring Rain in Tsuchiyama,” in which a line of travelers are walking hurriedly in a pouring rain with their heads keeping down. Today, there are several historical spots such as the ruins of the honjin (the lodging for daimyo and nobilities) and other inns, an ancient milestone of the Tokaido Road, and a row of pine trees.