The Chuma Kaido Road was a highway used to transport salt from Mikawa (Present-day Aichi Prefecture) to Shinshu (Nagano Prefecture) and products from Shinshu to Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka on the way back. “Chuma” was the name of the union organized by carriers using horses. The word is said to have derived from “chinba (a horse for transportation)” or “chukei-ba (a relaying horse).” As a local popular song went “1,000 horses com in, 1,000 horsed go out,” more than 7,000 horses went and returned on the road at its peak.
Asuke Town in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, was a thriving relay station on the Chuma Kaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). Though it ceased to function as a post station in the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912), when railway service of the Chuo Line started, the old streetscapes of the Edo period remain in the central part of the town. The old road retained along the Tomoe River provides a nice promenade for tourists. The Chuma Kaido Road became National Road 153 today and functions as an important transportation route to support the life of local people.
Shokyoto, which literally means “small Kyoto,” is a nickname given to the townscape that is similar to Kyoto. Most of the cities called Shokyoto were built by the daimyo in and after the Muromachi period, who adored Kyoto as the center of politics, economy and culture.
In some cases, Shokyoto was built because the daimyo had a yearning for the sight of home. In other cases, the land features were similar to those of Kyoto; being surrounded with mountains in the three directions, having a river running through the town, or being located in a basin. It is also called Shokyoto because the town has a shrine where the deity was transferred from Kyoto. In the modern times, the places with the features that remind visitors of Kyoto are also named Shokyoto. Such features include townscape, festivals, traditional handicraft, landscape and atmosphere.
Among the places that represent Shokyoto in Japan today, those built because the powerful ruler of the area had a yearning for Kyoto are Yamaguchi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Takayama City in the Hida region (Gifu Prefecture), and Chiran Town in Kagoshima Prefecture and Nakamura City in Kochi Prefecture. Those with the similar land features to Kyoto are the old castle towns in Hagi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Takahashi City in the ancient Bichu province (Okayama Prefecture) and Ashikaga City in Tochigi Prefecture.
Okazaki-juku was the 38th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was in current Okazaki City in Aichi Prefecture. The town of Okazaki was the castle town of the Okazaki domain enfeoffed with 50,000 koku of rice. Located at the point where the Yahagi River and the Otogawa River confluent, the town was also the waterway transportation center in the area.
The town was arranged into the present form by Tanaka Yoshimasa, who was enfeoffed with Okazaki Castle in 1590. He changed the route of the Tokaido Road, which had run in the outskirt of the town, and let it run through the town. Furthermore, he made so many right-angle bends in the road as to be called “27 Bends” to protect the town from enemy attacks. The construction took as long as ten years. Today there is a stone monument showing how this bending road is running through the town.
In the Edo period, the Okazaki domain was specially treated by the Tokugawa Shogunate as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the successive domain lords were selected from Fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals of the Shogun).
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.
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.
Obata in Kanra-machi, Kanra-gun, Gunma Prefecture used to be a castle town constructed around Obata Castle, which was built by the Obata clan enfeoffed with 20,000 koku of rice in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573). The town was flourished under the rule of the Warring-States-period powerful warriors including the Obata clan, the Oda clan and the Matsudaira clan. In 1615, Oda Nobukatsu, the second son of Oda Nobunaga, was enfeoffed with this area and became the founder of the Obata domain. The area had been ruled by the eight generations of the Obata clan for 152 years since then.
The reminiscence of the Edo period can be found in this small castle town. The Ogawazeki, a water channel built about 400 years ago, runs through the center of the town and cherry trees border the channel. On the left side of the street along the channel continue the residences with warehouses. The residences of the Edo-period warriors stand on both sides of the Nakakoji Street, which is as wide as 14 m. Their white clay walls are shining brilliantly.
Obata Cherry Festival is held on the 3rd Sunday in April every year. The magnificent parade of warriors wearing the armor and helmet and riding on horses, the gun troop and women warriors goes through the town. The demonstration of firing a harquebus and the performance of Shimonita Arafune Drums can be seen in the festival field.
Yoshida-juku was the 34th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). It was located in current Toyohashi City in Aichi Prefecture. It was 6 km away from Futagawa-juku, the next station in the east, and 10 km from Goyu-juku in the west.
Yoshida-juku was a thriving post town because it had developed as a castle town of Yoshida Castle and a port town as well. It is said that so many women called meshimori onna (rice serving woman at inns and also prostitutes) working in this post town that there was a comical popular song about the scene of those women attracting travelers from the second-floor windows of an inn.
In the Edo period, the display of fireworks for the annual festival of Yoshida Shrine was very famous.
Fujikawa-shuku was the 37th of the 53 post stations of the Tokaido Road in the Edo period (1603-1868). However, it had already been established as a lodging town in the Kamakura period (1192-1333).
Off the present Tokaido Road, namely National Route 1, which runs to the north of the JR Nagoya Main Line, and located on the old Tokaido Road, present-day Fujikawa is a relatively quiet town. A wooden stake indicating the eastern entrance of the post station remains at the point where the road branches from National Route 1.
As the city government works actively on preserving this old post town, there remain many old structures such as the gate of Waki-honjin, old street lights in Akibayama and houses with lattice windows. About 1 km away from the eastern entrance stands another wooden stake indicating the western entrance, which is in front of Fujikawa Elementary School to the south of Fujikawa Station. A little further ahead is the cross point with the Kira Kaido Road, an ancient road of salt, where a stone monument is erected. The lines of old pine trees remain along both of the ancient roads.