the first time in my life, I've changed my underwear! A
shocking announcement to be sure.
Since I can remember, I've worn
Jockey-style briefs (also called "tighty whities"). I
think there was some experimentation with boxers in my teens, but we all
rebel in adolescence.
Anyway, I've been chafing since I
started walking, developing heat rash, etc. So last night while I
was shopping (since I couldn't walk due to the typhoon), I bought a pair
of "boxer briefs," something like short-legged long johns
I gotta tell ya: what a relief.
Well, two days ago--my last walking
day--I hopped a bus into Chigasaki after dark. So this morning I
took a bus back to the same stop, and backtracked a bit to see what I
might have missed. There was supposed to be an ichirizuka
found it--sort of. This is the classic "ato"
as described on the 10th. Nothing here
but a sign saying there used to be something here. Glad I
Here's another new
word for you: namiki. It means a row of trees lining
a street. (I first learned the word because it's the family name
of a beautiful young lady I know--now represented on the Donor's
page.) The Tokaido used to be lined all along the way by namiki
on either side. Here, near the border of Fujisawa and Chigasaki,
this become evident. I can't really tell if this is original;
these trees look awfully young. On the other hand, there's an
occasional granddad, and the location seems right, as they are often in
the center of the sidewalk, on a mound at an unusual level next to the
road, etc.--in other words, not in the style of modern
You be the judge. I have also
included here a plaque bearing a print of namiki posted in front
of a school in Chigasaki.
I was taking a picture, a lovely lady and her 11-year-old dog
stopped and waited--oddly, I thought, as there was no chance that, had
she progressed, she would have been in my shot.
I was right. She was waiting for
a chance to speak. She has been taking low-cost English lessons at
a local church, and wanted to practice. She was delighted that I
had been a teacher at a prestigious language school.
By the way, can you guess the purpose
of the plastic bag she's carrying?
As I continued, I
came across a temple undergoing remodeling. The statue of a monk
out front caught my eye, so I went in and said today's prayers there.
You can learn more about Joshoji on my Words-and-Pictures
page. Also, check out today's journal
for a strange thing that happened to me during my prayers.
This was a wonderful place to say your
prayers, and I would have missed it I if hadn't stopped last night when
More on ichirizuka: now
THIS is more like it. This one is very near Chigasaki station; I'm
staying just the other side of the station. I've begun to notice
Tokaido-related place names, too; this intersection is named for the ichirizuka
the road I encountered what would have been, in the old days, my second
ferry crossing. This one is across the Sagamigawa, now crossed
by Banyubashi Bridge.
A word about bridges in Japan: the
Japanese seem to love 'em. Every bridge has a name. The
Tokaido starts and ends at a bridge. I dutifully record bridge
names on my tape recorder as I cross them--then decide not to bore you
with the details.
As mentioned at my first "ferry
crossing"--the Rokugo crossing at
Kawasaki--these ferries had strategic intent, keeping large armies from
crossing the rivers easily.
On the far side of the crossing--just
inside Hiratsuka city--I spotted this church. Upon closer
inspection, I realized it was a wedding chapel for the large hotel in
front of it.
Many places in Japan claim to be the sites
of the "true happening" of various legends. Hiratsuka
(along with several other places) lays claim to one of the most famous
ghost stories of all: the story of O-Kiku-san. She was allegedly
killed for breaking a valuable dish (though the version told at Himeji
castle claims there was political motivation for her death). Her
body was thrown down a well, where, for years afterward, she could be
heard counting plates and always coming up one short.
Well, according to the JR Tokaido site:
"The model for this character was Makabe Kiku, the daughter of an
official in the Hiratsuka post station, and her grave can be found in
Above is a picture of O-Kiku-Zuka,
means flat and "tsuka" is a mound. So Hiratsuka
was named after a flat mound of earth--a burial mound, in fact, said to
be the grave of Masako (granddaughter of Emperor Kammu) who died
at Hiratsuka in the year 857. (By the way, the building behind the
mound belongs to a neighboring temple.)
Hiroshige's print shows a distinctive
hill, with walkers crossing the bridge in the foreground. I
couldn't work out the shot with bridge in it, but I did my best.
Tokaido: Hiratsuka, Station
#7 on the Old Tokaido
It's clear that
Hiroshige toyed a bit with the shape of Koraiyama, but it's still easily
recognizable as it juts up out of the flat land around it.
Oiso, one leaves the modern highway to follow a lovely tree-lined
residential street--split halfway along by train lines. Along the
way I encountered this pretty little well, called "The
Cosmetics Well" because a lady of the neighborhood used to do her
Tokaido: Oiso, Station
#8 on the Old Tokaido
rain and the sea here. Well, I can't really see the sea from here,
although I know it's near. And as for rain: this is probably the
prettiest, sunniest day I've seen so far!
The left photo is a straightforward shot
of the Shigitatsu-an, or
Hermitage of the Snipe.
great priest and poet Saigyo visited this area in the 12th century, and
wrote this famous poem:
Who has renounced the world
Can know the pathos
Of an autumn evening
(Note the alternative translation from
the JR site: "Even an insensitive one such as I can know what it is
to be deeply moved: A snipe flies up from the water on an autumn
evening." Translating poetry is tough; the book 100 Frogs
gives 100 translations of a single 17-syllable haiku!)
Anyway, poetry lovers built this
"hermitage" here on the Shigitatsusawa
(Snipe Stream) centuries later in appreciation of that poem.
Stones on the grounds bear verses by Saigyo and other poets, like Basho.
Since I couldn't do rain and sea, I
shot my "official" 8th-station photo here (above right).
Along the way today were lots of
shrines and temples--as usual. Here are pictures of some of the
more interesting ones:
multiple torii (shrine gates) are a common sight.
Usually, each signifies a gift from a donor.
loved the simple country look of this place.
really a temple or shrine, these little roadside piles of carved
stone are found everywhere.
Yesterday I was unable to pray at a
temple; your prayers were said in my room. To make up for it, I
prayed twice today: once in the morning and once near sundown.
This little temple, Seichoji, was closed, so I couldn't get my
book signed. And as it's essentially just one building, these are
all the pictures you get. (The
eerie light coming from the hondo windows is the setting sun.)
I had to double back
to find this temple, having missed a turn. I walked up to the
parking area of a park, and was rewarded for my efforts: My first view
of Mt. Fuji on this trip! Fuji-san can be seen as early as
Station 2--Kawasaki--in Hiroshige's print series. (I often saw the
mountain when crossing the same river a bit farther upstream--at
Shin-Maruko--going to work every day in my first two years in Japan.)
And it will become more dominant later in the series. But this was
my first view on this trip, and I'm grateful for it.
By the way: sorry about the foreground
and the power lines, but this ain't the National Geographic.
Well, I did almost 20 kilometers today,
not counting backtracking, getting to and from my room, etc. And
as I approached Ninomiya station, in the happy phrase of the Japanese,
"My knees were laughing." (My friend Tomoko taught me
that when we climbed Mt. Fuji!)