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From Okazaki to almost Narumi
(Mon., Oct. 1st, 2001)

 Monday, October 1, 2001 (click to see all posts from this day)
  • Stations:
  • Other places visited: None
  • "Prayed" at: Shorenji
  • Stopped at: almost Narumi
  • Slept at: Nagoya Youth Hostel
  • Kilometers covered: 21.4
  • Total kilometers so far: 336.0
  • Journal: "Are You Japanese?"
  • Words and Pictures: Chiryu Shrine
  • Words and Pictures: Statuary
 The Old Tokaido

DANG, I had a terrible day. So why do I feel so good?

It was raining so hard when I left here this morning that I was soaked through before I got to the nearby station. Also, I had been unable to publish my web page both last night and this morning, so I left "home" with unresolved Internet problems (which actually still exist as I write this, but will obviously be solved by the time you read it!)

Okazaki, Station #38 on the Old Tokaido

I took a local train to be sure I didn't miss the stop I wanted (big mistake, time killer) and arrived much later than I wanted to. The rain had stopped, however, so I was able to get my official shot of Okazaki, station number 38 on the Old Tokaido.

Okazaki is revered as the birthplace of Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. You can read his abbreviated life story in the Logbook for September 20th. The top of the (reconstructed) castle where he was born is behind me, above the trees.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Okazaki, Station #38 on the Old Tokaido

Hiroshige shows the castle in the distance, with the Yahagi Bridge in the foreground. More on this in a minute.

Aside from the castle (and the 27 turns mentioned yesterday) , the other big deal at Okazaki is the Yahagi Bridge. Tokuriki calls this "the longest bridge on the entire length of the Tokaido." He must mean historically, because I've crossed a dozen bridges longer than this one.

Like Hiroshige, Tokuriki includes a sketch of the bridge and castle together. What I want to know is, where the heck was he standing? Here's a shot of the bridge; can you see that roof the arrow points to? THAT's the castle! I wanted my official shot to include both, but that would have required a lot of 'splainin'.

One more thing about the bridge: Tokuriki (darn 'im) refers briefly to what must be a well-known story: "[Yahagi Bridge] is famous as the spot where Hachisuka Koroku found the young Hideyoshi sound asleep." I confirmed with a nearby shopkeeper that this statue at the end of the bridge commemorates the event, but I can't find any account of the story. Does anybody out there know it?
[Update, 2005: I have found scant mention here and there that Hachisuka was a bandit leader who became one of Hideyoshi Toyotomi first followers. Still no further mention of the meeting at Yahashi Bridge.]
[2019: Got it! (Sort of.) Apparently a young apprentice named Hiyoshimaru had run away from his master, and was sleeping on the streets. One night, as he slept on Yahagi Bridge, he was awakened when the ruffian  Hachisuka Koroku and his gang tripped over him in the dark. Fearlessly, he demanded an apology... and I can't find the rest. However, it can be assumed the apology was tendered, as the boy grew up to be Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the bandit became one of his faithful retainers.]
Now, after yesterday's debacle, I was taking no chances on finding a place to say your prayers. So I stopped at the first historical temple I could find. This is Shorenji, also called Yanagido.

Yanagi means "willow"; you can see one in front of the main hall. A sign out front says "Saint Shinran" was connected with this temple (we met him in Chigasaki), so I assume the temple is (or at least was) Jodoshinshu, and the main image Amida Buddha. The temple also claims to have an image and articles belonging to Nobuyasu, the first son of Ieyasu.

As I left Shorenji, it started to rain. Then it started to rain hard. Then it dumped buckets. I broke out my "rain jacket" for the first time, and moved on.

And got lost. I took a wrong turn in the rain and wasted almost 90 minutes. But I saw some cool birds: quail, a kind of pheasant, white egrets, and something the size of a large pigeon with distinctive black and white markings. These guys knew they were trespassing (they were in planted fields) so when I tried to get my camera out they took wing (except for the pheasants, who ran for cover). No pictures, but great memories, despite the fact that I was BLOODY LOST.

(Anyone wanna buy a road map of the Okazaki area? Used only one day, still slightly damp.)

OK, found my way again. It's a long walk from Okazaki to Chiryu--nearly 12 kilometers--so I got bored. The intermittent rain did make things a bit interesting, but...

This is one of the best ichirizukas I've seen recently; most of them are just ato (sites).

As I walked on toward Chiryu, I heard a funny clink! Turning around, I discovered that I'd dropped a goddess.

On my backpack hang a bell, a small mouse, and several omamori or charms. Some were given by friends, or by people I've met along the way. But one I bought a long time ago, at the Asakusa Kannon near where I used to live. For a long time I kept it in my coin purse. But since I started walking, I hung it on my bag with the others.

This type of charm is usually a piece of paper or a small medal inside a brocade bag. You're not supposed to ever see what's inside; it's a matter of faith.

This one was a medal of the Kannon. I guess the bag was glued, not sewn, and the glue let loose because of the rain. So clink! and my beloved Kannon-sama hit the ground! I'm going to put her in a safe place in my bag and never look at her again. The broken bag is still hanging where it was. [And in January, 2005, it hangs there still--though the Kannon-sama herself was left behind on top of a locker in the youth hostel at Nagoya five days later!]

Chiryu, Station #39 on the Old Tokaido

At the edge of Chiryu these megaliths have arisen. New Stonehenge, or elevated highway supports? You be the judge.

This horse statue is located quite near one of the horse markets for which Chiryu was famous (see Hiroshige below). Also in the area was a coffee shop called Hakuba--"white horse."

And to finish off the approach to Chiryu, here's a lovely wedding chapel, the "Cathedrale de Sainte-Marie." Mary is apparently the patroness of weddings in Japan, perhaps as a pun; I saw a chapel in Okayama once called "The Chapel of Saint Marry."

And now, my official shot for Chiryu. I couldn't find any horses to pose with, but near the center of town was this tree reminiscent of the one in Hiroshige's print, so I went for it. (Do I look like a man who's been in wet clothes all day?)

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Chiryu, Station #39 on the Old Tokaido

Hiroshige shows the famous horse market. Tokuriki points out that, although Hiroshige is usually pretty accurate, he couldn't have seen this market, as it's at a different time of year than when he visited. As I've said before, HIROSHIGE IS A BIG, FAT LIAR.

This monument, a couple of big trees...

...and a playground are all that remain of Chiryu Castle.

All that's left to show you are a couple of Words and Pictures pages.

The first is a Words and Pictures page of pretty Chiryu Shrine. This place is famous for its snake-repelling powers. It also has a charming two-story pagoda; take a look.

And finally--and weirdly--I was walking along and came across a bunch of statues in front of a closed shop. You gotta see this one to believe it, perhaps my most bizarre Words and Pictures page of the trip.

Well, I kept on a-goin' 'til I couldn't see no more. I think I have about an hour to go before I reach Narumi. Tomorrow should be an interesting day, with some cool things to see and a 28-kilometer ferry ride (unfortunately, the ferry is gone, so I'll do it by train). Read more about it tomorrow.

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Posted October 4, 2019

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