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From Iwata Station to Hamamatsu
(Tue., Sep. 25th, 2001)

 Tuesday, September 25, 2001 (click to see all posts from this day)
  • Stations:
  • Other places visited: None
  • "Prayed" at: Totomi Kokubunji Ruins
  • Stopped at: Hamamatsu
  • Slept at: Hamanako Youth Hostel, Araimachi
  • Kilometers covered: 14.1
  • Total kilometers so far: 252.3
  • Words and Pictures: Old Stones (at Totomi Kokubunji)
 The Old Tokaido


Because the youth hostel is said to be a 25-minute walk from the station--and because of that 25 kilo bag--I took a taxi to the youth hostel last night. Returning on foot to the station this morning, I was surprised to discover that I was walking the Old Tokaido, right past the Arai Barrier--which I'll visit tomorrow. Although virtually all of my lodging has been near the Tokaido, this is the first time I've used it to get back to the station!

I returned to Iwata by train. This little guy was having the time of his life; he'd watch for a while, then run back and give his mom a breathless--and loud--report, then run up and watch some more.

Mitsuke, Station #28 on the Old Tokaido

From Iwata station, I took a bus back toward Mitsuke to Totomi Kokubunji.

As Buddhism took hold in Japan during the Nara period, Emperor Shomu began a drive to build one monastery and nunnery in each province of the growing country. He is the same Emperor who, in 745, instigated the building of the Great Buddha in Nara, which I'll visit next month. The Great Buddha is at Todaiji, which was the head temple of the provincial temple system. These temples were called "Kokubunji." Koku means country, and it was the designation of a province. (Shikoku, where I'll go for my pilgrimage, means four countries--and it has four Kokubunji temples.)

Because this was the first Kokubunji of the trip, I took my official shot for Mitsuke here. (Even though the name "Mitsuke" refers to the fact that it's the first place from which you can see Mt. Fuji if traveling from Kyoto, I couldn't see Fuji, so this is it for official photos. Also, Hiroshige did another river crossing--no way.)

A little more about provinces being called countries: of course in the early days for all practical purposes it was true--they were separate countries. National unification didn't come until Hideyoshi and Ieyasu in the 16th and 17th centuries. But Shomu's move was a step in the right direction. However, to this day many of my friends talk about returning to their "country" for the holidays. (Being a pain in the neck, I often say: "Your country! Aren't you Japanese?" Yuk, yuk, yuk.)

By the way, another reading of the kanji (Chinese character) for koku is kuni.

I said your prayers here, but the guy who was supposed to sign my book left a few hundred years ago! Also, I reflect on this place in today's special illustrated Words and Pictures.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Mitsuke, Station #28 on the Old Tokaido

The crossing of the Tenryugawa. See below for more about this river and its bridge.

More Ozymandian sights (again, see today's journal-like Words-and-Pictures): This tree near Iwata station is all that remains from a temple that was located here several hundred years ago.

This statue is wearing clothes used for traditional matsuri (festivals). I guess it's tolerable that they used a Western-faced model for traditional clothing, but why did they have to pose her like she was doing the Lambada?

At long last, SHOES! I passed this place the size of a small Wal-Mart with a sign stating "Shoes and Bags." I went in and found New Balance tennies my size! My feet are mildly relieved, but the big plus is that there is less wear-and-tear on my ankles, knees, and hips. YAYYY!!!

And in the parking lot, as well as right across the street, are monuments to ichirizuka (milestones--see more here). A truly Tokaidoan store.

Hamamatsu, Station #29 on the Old Tokaido

So I get to the Tenryugawa (a cool name: Heaven Dragon River). The closest bridge to the old ferry crossing has absolutely no place to walk. The next one north has a narrow lane. It's a long bridge, so I'm a little nervous. But I get across no problem. I take a seat for a few minutes, get up, cross at the light, and there's where I almost get creamed by a car. When I say almost, I mean ALMOST. This lady was turning right (North Americans, think "left"; they drive on the wrong side here, like most of the world). There's a lot of traffic going straight through the signal, me along with it. She sees a break in the cars and jumps on it--straight at me. She was within a meter of me when I did the world's fastest moonwalk--running backwards--and bowed to let her pass. Oddly, I was whistling at the time and never missed a note.

Anyway, this long bridge is just a bit upstream from the ferry crossing shown in Hiroshige's print (above). The one I show here is the older, southern bridge--the one with no walking lane.

Once something comes up, it seems to come up again and again: here's a wall painting of a kago (see yesterday's Logbook).

I vowed to drink no alcohol on this trip. Is it starting to get to me, or does this building near Hamamatsu Station look like a beer bottle to you, too? (PS: There's a bad joke here. The Japanese word for beer--biru--sounds a lot like the common word for building--biiru. So is this the biru biiru?) [2019: Turns out it's supposed to look like a harmonica!]

Approaching Hamamatsu, I stopped in a chain restaurant called Gusto for a late lunch/early dinner (linner?). The wind started to blow while I was inside; I saw parked bicycles turning circles around their kickstands. (Funny, I thought, I'm watching gusts while sitting in Gusto. Har, har, har.)

By the time I got to the station, I was seeing bikes being knocked down. So instead of fighting the wind and heading up to the castle (well off the Old Tokaido), I decided to do my official shot next to this marker for the honjin (official inn). It's on a busy corner, in front of a department store.

You won't usually see this: an official shot with my bare head exposed to the elements. But the wind was so strong that it was the only way. You can see my "shirt" being ruffled by the wind. Also, if I seem to be laughing, it's because I am. I'm watching a man chase a baseball cap down the street. (If a baseball cap went that far, imagine what my hat would do.) Somewhere, James Thurber laments the passing of men's hats as a fashion element, because they brought so much joy to other people on windy days! Hiroshige thought so too; his print for Yokkaichi (#43, to be seen later in the trip) shows a man chasing a hat like mine.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Hamamatsu, Station #29 on the Old Tokaido

Well, at least they're not crossing water! These guys are having a smoke break next to a pine. "Hamamatsu" means "beach pine."

That's it for today. Tomorrow I'll walk from Hamamatsu to--I hope--this hostel where I'm staying. Then set out straight from here the next day, with no trains--luxury!

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Posted October 2, 2019

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