Kuwana-juku was the 42nd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). It was in current Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture. As is referred to in a famous Japanese pivot words, “Sonote wa Kuwana no Yaki-hamaguri (Your method is a broiled clam of Kuwana),” the town is famous for broiled clams. Kuwana had been the distribution center and an intermediate port of the marine traffic in this area since very old times. For the pilgrims heading for Ise Shrine, the town was the eastern entrance of the Ise province.
As it was very difficult for travelers to take an inland route due to the Kiso River crossing the Tokaido Road between Kuwana-juku and Miya-juku, a ferry route called “Shichi-ri no Watashi” was provided between the two post stations. Travelers could go 7 ri (about 27 km) of the way comfortably on a boat, which was depicted in Ando Hiroshige’s “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.” The boats took different coursed according to rise and fall of the tide, and the time required varied. The torii gate erected at the port was called “Ise-koku Ichi-no-torii (the 1st Torii of Ise Province).” It is renewed at Shikinen Sengu of Ise Shrine (reconstruction of all the buildings of Ise Shrine done once every 20 yeas) even today.
Honjin was a special lodging established in a post station of the main national roads in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was built for use by daimyo, Hatamoto (direct retainers of the Shogun), government officials, Imperial envoys, Imperial family members, and Monzeki (Buddhist priests of aristocratic or imperial lineage). The word “honjin” originally means the camp or field headquarters of a general from the late Heian period to the early Edo period. Later on, accommodations for a general were also called honjin, and then it was diverted to lodgings for travelers of high social rank.
In most case, the proprietor of general office managing a post station (Toiya) or the village head officer (Nanushi) was appointed to be the proprietor of a honjin. Those who owned honjin were not warriors but they were given the privilege of wearing swords and a surname (myoji taito). They were also allowed to build the gate and the entrance porch for their private area.
The site where Honjin was built usually had an area of more than 3,300 sq m, and the main building was built in accordance with formalities, which included the Onarimon Gate and the raised room (Jodan-no-ma) as the main guest room. Presently, there are 13 honjin existing and open to the public. Among them, the largest is the honjin at Kusatsu-juku post station on the Tokaido Road. With as many as 39 rooms, a building area of 1706 sq m, and a site area of 4727 sq m, it is designated as a national Historic Site.
Yokkaichi-juku was the 43rd of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). As the center of overland traffic and sea-lanes, the town had already thrived in the 16th century, when a market was started to be held on the 4th day of each month, hence it was called “Yokkaichi (4th Day Market).” The town was located at the diverging point of the Ise Kaido, the pilgrimage road to Ise Shrine, and the pilgrims could make their 40 km journey by boat from Yokkaichi port.
Yokkaichi is famous for “Nagamochi” rice cake. As the word “nagamochi” is a pun for “long-lasting” in Japanese, a Warring States period warrior Todo Takatora once said “It’s a good sign to eat rice cake to bring the long-lasting fortune of war.” An old pine tree standing in Hinaga in Yokkaichi City is the only remnant of the pine trees that were bordering the Tokaido Road.
Ishiyakushi-juku was the 44th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1686). As the way station of the long journey between Yokkaichi and Kameyama, the town was built in around 1616 by relocating 180 families from nearby villages and named so after Ishiyakushi Temple.
The names of historic figures such as Ooka Echizen no Kami and Asano Takumi no Kami can be seen in the guest book of honjin preserved at the house of the Ozawa family, whose ancestors were the successive proprietors of honjin.
Off the present Tokaido Road, namely National Route 1, Ishiyakushi is a quiet town today. In the vicinity is the birthplace of Nobutsuna Sasaki, a tanka poet and scholar of Japanese literature, active in Showa period. In the history museum next to the house, about 2,000 mementos of Nobutsuna including the order of Culture, personal letters, books and manuscripts are displayed.
Seki-juku, with “seki” meaning checkpoint, was a post town with a checkpoint as the name suggests. However, it was not a checkpoint in Edo period, but was built in 672 at the time of Jinshin War. It was known as Suzuka no Seki at that time and was referred to as one of Three Great Checkpoints in ancient Japan, along with Arachi in Echizen and Fuwa in Minou. The checkpoints were abolished in 789.
During the Middle Ages, under the control of Seki Clan, the town developed around Jizou-in Temple first as a temple town and later prospered as a post town.
In 1601 (Edo period), Tokugawa government brought back the checkpoint system and Seki-juku became the 47th post town starting from Shinagawa-juku, covering the present areas of Kizaki, Nakamachi and Shinjo in Seki Town, Kameyama, Mie Prefecture. The area is the only post town along Fifty-three Sations of the Toukaidou where stores and houses from ancient times still remain intact. Since it was designated as an Important Cultural Buildings Preservation District in 1984, the town has been reinventing itself utilizing and preserving unique local historical assets.
Seki-juku post town consist of four boroughs each with unique characteristics; Kizaki, where a line of low rise housing exists: Nakamachi with “honjin” (inns for lords and samurai) , “hatago” (inns for general people) and wholesalers gathered: Shinjo, an area in front of Jizou-in Temple: Kitaura where there are many temples and shrines.
Chiryuu-juku is the 39th post town along Toukaidou highway, one of the Five Major Highways of Edo period, and located in present day Chiryuu, Aichi Prefecture.
Since ancient times, the post town area had been called “Chiryuu” written as 知立 in kanji, however, because the Chiryuu Shrine in the post town had a pond full of carps and crucians, people started to use a different kanji, 池鯉鮒 (translated as “pond of carps and crucians” also pronounced “Chiryuu”). Thus, the present day Chiryuu City is written知立and the post town for池鯉鮒 while they are both pronounced “Chiryuu”.
The Chiryuu Shrine has an even longer history than the post town dating back to the reign of Emperor Keikou Era (241~310, according to records), who was the father of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto.
Chiryuu -juku became an important trading route town when tie-dyed cotton cloth made in neighboring towns such as Naruto-juku and Arimatsu-juku was in high demand, and the town held huge horse fairs attracting hundreds of traders and their horses. Andou Hiroshige, a famous woodblock print artist, captured a scene from the horse fair in his masterpiece, Fifty-three Sations of the Toukaidou.
Chichuu-juku was once a quiet farming village until it was designated as a post town after the Battle of Sekigawara.
Visitors can take an interesting walk through the town imaging the hustle and bustle of the crowds hundreds of years ago.
Narumi-juku was the 40th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road, which connected Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Kyoto in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was located in current Narumi-cho, Midori-ku, Nagoya City in Aichi Prefecture. Narumi-juku thrived on tie-dyed cotton fabric that was produced in Arimatsu located between Narumi-juku and the next post station, Chiryu-juku. Many shops selling tie-dyed cotton products stood along the road, which was depicted in Ando Hiroshige’s “The Fifty-three Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.”
In Seiganji Temple in the town stands the oldest stone monument in memory of the master poet, Matsuo Basho. The old battle field of Okehazama, where Oda Nobunaga established his reputation in the Warring States period (1493-1573), is located just past this town.
Having traveled about 350 km from Edo, a traveler in tie-dyed haori coat might have set out for the 13 km walk to the next Miya-juku post station, thinking of the remains of the warriors’ dreams as Basho did. This must have been a divine favor that only a traveler can enjoy.
Minakuchi-juku (presently Koga City in Shiga Prefecture) was the 50th post station of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). Minaguchi had been flourished as a lodging village for the pilgrims to Ise Shrine since the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Then, it developed into a castle town of the Kato clan in the Edo period. Located at the southern foot of Mt. Kojozan, the town was divided into two parts; the area to the east of the stone bridge was a post town with a three-forked road, while the western part was a castle town, where a street bents at a right angle. Minakuchi Castle was also known as “Hekisui (deep blue clear water) Castle,” from its reflecting image on the surface of the water moat. The specialty products of the town are rattan work, tobacco pipes, and a dried gourd shaving, which was depicted in Hiroshige’s “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido Road.” The town was so flourished and bustling as to be called “The No.1 place to gather people on the Tokaido Road.” Today, there are several historical spots including the castle ruins and the old street light, which remind you of the town’s prosperity in the old days.