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2007/10/3


亀山宿 Kameyama-juku Kameyama-juku

Jp En

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.
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2007/6/21


御油宿 Goyu-juku Goyu-juku

Jp En

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.
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庄野宿 Shouno-juku Shono-juku

Jp En

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.”
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坂下宿 Sakashita-juku Sakashita-juku

Jp En

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.
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土山宿 Tsuchiyama-juku Tsuchiyama-juku

Jp En

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.
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大津宿 Ootsu-juku Otsu-juku

Jp En

Otsu-juku in present Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture was the 53rd of 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road and the 69th of 69 post stations of the Nakasendo Road; that is, the last post station on the long way from Edo to Kyoto. Since the honjin (the lodging for daimyo and the nobility) was built in 1602, it had developed in to a large town with 100 sub-towns and the population of 18,000. It was the largest post station on the roads with 2 honjin, 1 sub-honjin and 71 inns lining along the street. The town was also the important point of traffic, where commodities via Lake Biwa were collected and distributed.

The famous Ukiyoe artist Ando Hiroshige depicted tea houses along the street, where travelers drank tea to relieve their thirst. The place where the tea houses were located was known for the clear spring water called “Hashirii no Shimizu,” which still springs out of the well in the precinct of Gesshinji Temple.

Hashirii-mochi, which was served with Japanese green tea at these tea houses, is a soft rice cake ball with bean jam in it. It is still loved by both local people and tourists. Contrary to the prosperity at the time, Otsu-juku at present is a quiet town, where only the stone monument tells us the thriving atmosphere in the old days.
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2007/6/4


瀬田・石山の清流 Seta Ishiyama no seiryuu Seta, Ishiyama’s Clear Stream

Jp En

   Seta, Ishiyama’s Clear Stream refers to a particular view of the Seta river; Seta river runs through Shiga Prefecture's Otsu city.  This is one of the 8 great views of Biwa Lake.  The flowing Seta River, lit up by the rays of a setting sun, forms a backdrop for the Kara Bridge, one of the three major Japanese bridges.  
   Historically, this so-called ‘Seta’s evening sunlight’ has been an especially popular sight among Shiga's famous views.  It is famed as one of the Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi) of Ando Hiroshige.  Another famous view in the area that appears in many literary works and Ukiyoe paintings is ‘Ishiyama’s Moon in Autumn'.
Even now, an old-fashioned houseboat is popular among sightseers.  You can enjoy the unique beauty of all four seasons at Ishiyama temple or along the Seta river; in the Spring, cherry blossoms, during early Summer, azalea, in peak Summer, cool breezes, in Autumn, fall foliage, and in the Winter, a snowy landscape.
  The many boats and canoes that now congregate near the Kara Bridge creates scenary very different from the Ukiyoe that Hiroshige painted.  However, the scene of boats passing by the bridge in the evening is still quite beautiful, much like a scene straight out of a movie.
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池鯉鮒宿 Chiryuu-juku Chiryuu-juku Post Town

Jp En

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.
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