Sign up for my Newsletter & Podcast!

From past Ejiri to past Mariko
(Thu., Sep. 20, 2001)

 Thursday, September 20th, 2001 (click to see all posts from this day)
 The Old Tokaido

After laundry (!) I returned to Kusanagi station to pick up where I had left off.

Fuchu, Station #19 on the Old Tokaido

The first half of today's walk was city streets, weaving in and out of train tracks, etc. One rather surprising thing about the Tokaido is that--whether city street or hiking trail--it still exists, and often seems to be the preferred route. But today, for the first time (other than at ferry crossings) I reached a part that's gone.

In Shizuoka city, the road crosses and re-crosses a wide railroad right-of-way, and just stops--twice. I had to detour over or under the tracks on other roads. Considering that I was somewhere near 170 kilometers from Tokyo, it's amazing that it hasn't happened before.

Sunpu Castle and Ieyasu Tokugawa

There were no landmarks of note along the way, so I didn't get my camera out until I passed Shizuoka station and reached the site of Sunpu Jo, or Sunpu Castle: one of Ieyasu Tokugawa's main seats.

Little remains of the castle today. It is said that it burned down in a fire started in a pile of pigeon dung (spontaneous combustion?). In fact, I had a funny experience regarding the castle's remains. On that trip to Shizuoka three years ago (mentioned yesterday), I asked my friend Tomoko if we could see "the castle." There's no castle, she said, only a park. I showed her a brochure, and she was shocked!

She had been living in Tokyo for a few years, and what there was to see of the castle--one building--had been built since she moved away!

Nonetheless, the park is quite interesting. The Shizuoka Prefectural Offices are located inside of the castle's old honmaru, or main keep. That means the people of the area are still being "ruled" from the same place!

The castle grounds are also a haven for kids. There were hordes of kindergarteners, high school gym classes jogging, school groups visiting the museum--kids everywhere, including the bird feeder shown here with his dad (yes, dad).

I had a charming encounter with kids as I approached the grounds. I had stopped to check my map against a street map posted on the border of the grounds. (Far from lost, I was just orienting.) Lots of people were passing on the sidewalk, so I didn't take much noticed. Suddenly, I became aware that someone was waiting for me to answer them. (Know that feeling? A sort of psychic nudge?) Looking down to my right, I realized that three girls of about ten years old were patiently waiting, one of them clearly the leader. Think fast: you're standing in front of a map--what question was asked? So even though I knew the answer--I just wanted to validate her kindness in offering-- I responded: "Where is Sunpu Castle?" To my relief, I had guessed correctly: she had asked if she could help me find something. She then proceeded to give lengthy, fast, and fluent Japanese directions to a place that was no more than 20 meters away!

Aside from offices, castles, and kids, the park also has a few monuments. This one--my official shot for Fuchu (Shizuoka)--is a statue of the man himself, first of the Tokugawa shoguns, and founder of the Tokaido Highway, Ieyasu Tokugawa. (Or is that Ed Asner?)

Although actually born at another station farther down the Tokaido--Okazaki near Nagoya (in 1543)--he was sent as a military hostage to Shizuoka at the age of seven. (It was not unusual for "alliances" to be sealed by the retention of family members; remember that later this same man would later require all the daimyo--barons--under him to leave their wives in Edo as virtual hostages.)

In Shizuoka he lived with the Imagawa family where, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, he was "trained in the military and governmental arts and developed a great love for falconry." Hence the bird in his hand (which is worth...?).

After his father's murder and the death in battle of his foster father (it was a bloody time), he returned to his family seat at Okazaki. From there he began the long series of campaigns that led to his being the (ultimately) undisputed leader of Japan's military government.

He successively moved his seats of government to Hamamatsu, then to Sunpu (here--Shizuoka), and finally--after he and Hideyoshi Toyotomi crushed the Hojo at Odawara--to Edo, described by Britannica as "nearly a month's march from Hideyoshi's headquarters near Kyoto."

Two years after becoming shogun, Ieyasu "retired" to Sunpu again, leaving his son Hidetada as shogun. However, he was as active in retirement as before, especially in the area of foreign relations (the Europeans had arrived).

He died at Sunpu in 1616.

An interesting side note: every city mentioned above--Okazaki, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Odawara, Edo, Kyoto--was a station on the Tokaido.

Ieyasu is all over the net. Here's a great--and heavily-linked--starting point.

Abekawa River Crossing

After I left the castle grounds, I walked on through Shizuoka's busy Ginza area, then turned off into less-traveled streets, headed toward the Abekawa River, an area famous for its delicious Abekawa Mochi, a sweet rice-paste treat. The Abe is another "ferry crossing."

They say that Abekawa Mochi was sold under the trees at the crossing. It's still sold in shops on the Shizuoka side of the river today.

A funny thing: On the Tokaido train line, "Abekawa" station is followed by "Mochimune." So when the trains are announced, they say "Abekawa, Mochimune,..." It sounds like an advertisement!

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Fuchu, Station #19 on the Old Tokaido

Hiroshige's print for Shizuoka is of people crossing the Abekawa in various ways.

Mariko, Station #20 on the Old Tokaido

After a bit more urban sprawl, the road turns off into picturesque Mariko, station 20. Here's my "official shot" in front of the teahouse depicted by Hiroshige--or its descendant.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Mariko, Station #20 on the Old Tokaido

This is the teahouse in question. The one I saw looks bigger, grander--but all insist that it's the same one. I visited here with the Maruyamas three years ago, and can still remember the sensation of seeing something so closely linked with the Old Tokaido--part of what led me to do this.

Past Mariko I stopped at this small temple to pray. Chogenji is Rinzai Zen (I seem to be hitting a lot of those by "accident") with a main image of Amida Buddha. The main attraction, however, is that this temple sports a "Mizuko Kannon."

Here is the Kannon with babies. Mizuko--"water babies"--is the term applied to children who have died, especially as the result of abortion. This is big business in the religion racket here in Japan. People pay a fortune in "guilt money" to appease the souls of their dead children and help ease their passage in the underworld. [2019: You can read more about this in my blog post, "My Ancestral Shrine."]

And here, at the same temple, is a charming nude Benten-sama, the only woman of Japan's Seven Lucky Gods, and the patroness of music (hence the biwa, a traditional stringed instrument).

For the first time this trip, I encountered a manned temple with no one who could sign my book. (All other unsigned days were at closed, unstaffed temples--or at shrines.)

Toiling onward, I stopped before entering a tunnel, and took a bus back to Shizuoka station. Tomorrow morning, I will strike off up the mountain over the tunnel, to Utsunoya Pass, said to be the third toughest part of the route (after Hakone and Satta).

    ← Previous Day Back to Old Tokaido Guide Next Day →    

Posted September 28, 2019

No comments:

Post a Comment