|After laundry (!) I
returned to Kusanagi station to pick up where I had left off.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 (see picture). 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!
Fuchu, Station #19 on
the Old Tokaido
Hiroshige's print for Shizuoka is of
people crossing the Abekawa in various ways.
After a bit more urban sprawl, the road
turns off into picturesque Mariko, station 20. Here I am in
front of the teahouse depicted by Hiroshige--or its descendant.
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. Chonenji 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."
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.
Shown here are, first, the Kannon, and
second 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
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).