|My day started and
ended with kindness from old women.
Remember that I was lost last night?
Well, I found the station at last, but it wasn't where I expected it to
be. So this morning I walked back from that station to last
night's end point.
The station was right where it should
have been. But where I ended up wasn't where I thought it was!
Get it? I thought I was on
Aobadori last night, and that the station was mis-marked on my map, and
was in actuality well south of Aobadori. But I wasn't on Aobadori,
which runs right next to the station--just as the map says. Lesson:
Where the map and I differ, I'm almost always wrong. (Actually,
ALWAYS so far!)
So I spent my first 45 minutes
backtracking to the wrong place, then back-backtracking to the right
But along the way, something cool
happened. A skinny, toothless old lady in a big floppy hat passed
me on a bicycle. She smiled and bowed at me so much--while
riding--that I thought she was going to fall off. She didn't,
though, and rode on past.
Well, a few minutes later, she rode
back up behind me. "Tomato tabeta?" she asked.
"Do you [want to] eat tomatoes?" And she proceeded to
give me ten tomatoes, of varying size and quality, as a
kind of osettai.
If I hadn't gotten lost etc., etc.,
blah-blah-blah you know what I mean.
Well, here it is at long last, the
picture you've all been waiting for: [fanfare] My official shot of
Yoshiwara. Far from the center of the shuku, but still within
its bounds, I am at a monument to the ferry that used to cross the
Fujikawa River here. The marker is on the grounds of a small
shrine, named "Suijinja" or Water Shrine.
Yoshiwara, Station #14 on
the Old Tokaido
Another pines-by-water scene. The
print shows Fuji on the left, as mentioned yesterday.
All during my time at the shrine, I
could here the river thundering nearby. When I actually got
to the bridge, I was stunned by how wide the river was, and by how much
water was pouring over this little falls. It was
After crossing the river, one jogs
right-and-left quickly and heads up the slope to a beautiful, quiet
neighborhood named Fujikawacho. The road follows along a hill,
about halfway between the bottom (which in the past must surely have
been submerged by the sea) and the top; then up a slope, and along
Here where the mountains squeeze up
against the sea, it's clear that there are actually five Tokaidos:
there's the Old Tokaido, the one I'm walking; there's the "Old
National Highway 1" which I sometimes walk on as part of the Old
Tokaido; there's an expressway, "New Highway 1," and there are
two train lines, the regular Tokaido Honsen, and the Tokaido Shinkansen
("Bullet Train"). There's a picture of four out of these
five on tomorrow's page.
On this part of the walk, the Old
Tokaido passed both over and under the expressway, passed under the
Shinkansen tracks, and came down and paralleled both the "Old
National" and the Honsen--all in the space of 20 minutes! The
five are woven together here like a rope.
I thought the underpass for the
Shinkansen looked rather old. It was, in fact, built in 1963--the
year before the Olympics brought hordes of sightseers to Japan.
Though the Olympics were around Tokyo, surely a lot of visitors took
side trips to Kyoto. Japan was ready for them. What will
take me a month can be done in under 2-1/2 hours on the Shinkansen!
And now back to the walk. Here is
one of the two Iwabuchi ichirizuka, with charming looks
befitting the Fujikawacho neighbor. Both ichirizuka are
From the ichirizuka you can see
the roof of this house, so I walked over and took this shot. It's
some kind of community history center, from what I could gather.
Local government being what it is,
signage practices change when you enter a new neighborhood, and some
seem quite funny to me.
This one means "Grannies and
Children Ballroom Dancing Ahead."
And I don't know where to begin with
this one. How about the fact that it's an advertisement placed
in the back of a garbage collection bin? Then what about using
Napoleon to advertise English lessons? I mean, he wasn't exactly
well-known for his love of the English!
Yes, another ichirizuka.
But this one intrigued me because the house behind it surrounds it on
three sides. Respect? Maybe.
Kambara station couldn't be more
different from Yoshiwara. From the east gate marker
(shown here) to the excellent signs (alas in Japanese) along the way, to
the well-preserved buildings, respect for the past clearly has been a
Several deep lots display these old okura
or storehouses. Some--like the one on the left in the second
picture--are now located in back yards.
Here is my official shot for Kambara
station, number 15 of the Old Tokaido. I am walking in front
of a beautiful old house on the site of the honjin, or official
[Does this look familiar? With a
change to the attitude of the stick, it was the model for the
"Temple Guy" figure found on these pages!]
Kambara, Station #15 on
the Old Tokaido
Although this is a well-loved print, it
is doubtful that it ever snowed in Kambara. I may add snow to my
official shot later! (One good fake deserves another.)
Here's another in my growing collection
of unique dosojin--figures
of great interest to me, since they protect travelers.
On to the official shot for
station number 16: Yui. This is a kind of museum in Honjin Ato
Koen--"Official Inn Site Park." In fact, it's the
first authentic honjin area I've seen--and I first saw it over
three years ago with my friends the Maruyamas, whose house I'm writing
this in tonight. In the car coming from the station, I told my
buddy T-chan that this is the first extended conversation I've had in
English in NINE DAYS!
Next to the honjin museum is the
museum dedicated to the woodblock prints of Hiroshige. When
I visited before, I saw a full set of authentic Tokaido prints, and
more, such as a demonstration of ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock)
If you're in the neighborhood, this
place is a must. Here's
A couple of times I've mentioned Yaji-san
and Kita-san, the main characters in Ikku Jippensha's comic novel
about the Tokaido, Shank's
Mare. Here I am with them, looking at something shocking.
(As nearly as I could tell, they were looking at the menu of the
restaurant they stand in front of. Was it the pictures? or
the prices?) The building they stand in front of also houses an
Edo-Tokaido museum and a gift shop.
This picture is also a candidate for
"official shot." Which one do you like better, this or
the one in front of the honjin?
Yui, Station #16 on
the Old Tokaido
[Note: Hiroshige used
Satta Pass as his scene for Yui. Although I reached the station of
Yui today, I wouldn't reach the pass until tomorrow. So I have
given Hiroshige's illustration twice: once today, and again tomorrow.]
This is Satta Pass, which
I'll tackle first thing tomorrow.
prayers involve a good story. As I walked up to the temple
behind the honjin park in Yui, I passed an old woman
gardening. I said my prayers as usual, and when I was finished she
approached and said, "Your prayers were good, weren't they?"
I said thank you, and asked where I could have my book signed.
"Oh, I'll do it," she said. She was the priest's wife!
So she took me into the offer, showed
me the interior of the hondo, and answered the usual questions:
the temple is named Daihoji, it is part of the Myoshinji subsect of
Rinzai Zen, and the main image is Nyoirin Kannon. I later learned
that this is "Wish-fulfilling Kannon"--a good one to express your
wishes to! In a room behind the main altar--filled mostly with
plaques bearing posthumous names--is another sequestered statue of Bato
Kannon, or "Horse-Headed Kannon," useful especially to animals
These "hidden Buddhas" are
pretty common in Japan, being revealed only once in so-many years.
Imagine my surprise, then, when she offered to take me in again and show
them to me! I was so touched.
So we went in, and I saw the Nyoirin
Kannon. This is a gold lady about a foot high, with six arms, and
seated on a lotus. I now know that the arms are there to grant the
various wishes she hears.
The Bato Kannon was more unusual.
Every one that I've seen has a fairly standard-looking Kannon, with a
sort of horse's-head hat coming up from the crown of her head. Not
this one. It was a fearsome black six-armed creature looking much like Fudo
Myoo. This one had flames coming out of the top of its head
like a crown. And within these black flames was the white relief
of a horse's head.
Of course I couldn't take pictures.
But these images are etched firmly in my mind.
"adventure" to relate: Leaving the shuku area, I walked
through Yui station to get a map, then started toward Satta Pass.
Because of the time I spent at Daihoji, I reached the bottom of the pass
after dark. I really wanted to see the view, so I decided to break
off and continue tomorrow. Heading down to "Old Highway
1," I noticed a bus lane marked on the street, but no signs or
timetables. So I waited for over a half-hour, then decided to walk
on down the road and take my chances.
I entered a restaurant a few hundred
meters down the road, and explained that I needed to know the name of
the place so I could call a taxi. As I secretly hoped, the lady in
the restaurant called one for me! Fifteen minutes later I was at
Okitsu station, where I had stowed my bag this morning.
The lady cab driver, by the way, had
seen me walking through Yui station, and I had seen her chatting with
another driver. She said they had commented on me not being
Japanese! Small world.
So Tomoko and her brother brought me
home, I played with my 2-year-old buddy Luka (Tomo's boy, who calls me
"Jay-Jay"), had a shower and some dinner, showed the family my
homepage (and the dead tanuki picture from day-before-yesterday),
and now it's bedtime.