|My friend Shie says
there's kind of a proverbial idea in Japan: that Winter comes "rain
by rain," each storm changing the weather one step closer to Winter
. Today it's officially Autumn, and it feels like it.
The typhoon blew itself out before
morning, leaving behind a gorgeous day: clear blue skies with cotton
candy clouds, cool and breezy--that rare perfect day in Japan. A
day for walking.
Too bad I didn't have a chance to do
I went off on a futile quest for shoes.
I can easily find shoes in Japan that are long enough for my
feet, but seldom are they wide enough or deep enough (top to bottom).
I spent hours in various stores, and ended up buying a cheap pair of
sandals no more comfortable than the ones I had.
It sounds like I'm complaining.
I'm not. I had a great time, experienced top-flight service like
only Japanese department stores can provide (even calling competitors to
see if a certain style and size were available), walked several
kilometers in beautiful Shizuoka on a fine day, had many funny
encounters with everybody from high school kids to old ladies--a great
It was so late, though, that I
considered going back to my room and working on the home page. I
had a good excuse, didn't I? But I couldn't. I just had
to walk. It's in my blood now.
So finally, at 3 p.m., I was on the
trail again from Rokugo station. Late, yeah, but I was busy all
day! (Besides, I walked the entire Tokaido today. Read on.)
As I wrote yesterday, I stopped about
30 minutes from Shimada. Sure enough, by 3:30 I blew into town.
Not seeing much in the center of town
that looked like Edo, I opted to do a picture with an old friend, Mr.
Tanuki. You may recall that the author I quoted on Sunday
the 16th wrote: "Standing by the road side on its hind legs
[the tanuki] distends its belly (or rather Scrotum)..."
Talk about an extended scrotum! Look at this guy! Hey, I
imitated his gestures and facial expression, but THAT was as far as I
Why didn't I try to copy
Hiroshige's print? Well, frankly, I think he fell into a rut along
in here. No fewer than 19 of his prints (in the Hoeido edition)
show people crossing water, whether by bridge, boat, or ford.
(Your count may differ.) This is not surprising; there is a
lot of water to cross.
But Shimada is station #23, and he
shows crossings for #19, 23, 24, 26, and 28! That's 50% of the 10
prints ranging on either side of this one. So I went with the tanuki.
However, as you'll see below, I, too,
got caught up in the spirit of crossing.
Hiroshige's Tokaido: Shimada, Station
the Old Tokaido
This print and the next one (Kanaya)
show crossings of the Oigawa River. One of my guidebooks (Tokaido,
by Tomikichiro Tokuriki) says that when the Oi was in flood it was
impossible to cross. Records indicate that one winter it was
closed for 28 days. Tokuriki adds that crossing fees were set by
the water level, below the chest being cheapest, at the chest next,
between the armpits and the shoulders the most. Above the
shoulders and traffic was halted.
I stopped here at Daizenji for your
prayers. It's a small temple of recent construction, but the
foundation is quite old. It's a Jodo temple, the main image being
(naturally) Amida Nyorai.
I had a long, wonderful talk with the
priest's wife, about religion, culture, lifestyle, etc. It was fun
switching back-and-forth rapidly between English and Japanese. I
reflect on this more in today's journal.
By the way, the priest at this temple
has a "day job," so his wife keeps a number of pre-signed
stamp pages on hand. This is a common practice in various parts of
the country. I wonder why they didn't have any at Chonenji in Mariko day
|A map of the
Now, here's where I became captivated by
this river crossing thing. As one approaches the river, the Kawagoshi--riverside
area--is largely intact as a historic park. The area used to have
at least 10 inns, and several offices for the transportation business;
some of these are still there.
It gave me a strange thrill of
anticipation to be walking toward the river on the authentic-looking
street, instead of on a busy highway leading to a bridge. (That
was a bit to the north.)
When I reached the actual riverside, I got
Back on September 17th, I visited a
temple called Shouinji. On the Words
and Pictures page, I mentioned that "Many temples have
mini-pilgrimage circuits. These are part of 88 statues
representing the 88 temples of Shikoku." This deserves
elaboration. A temple will set up a series of statues--at Shouinji,
for example, 88--each one representing one temple on a pilgrimage
circuit. Wannabe pilgrims can then visit one place and gain merit
for having done the entire circuit.
including a little Nihombashi
||The road goes
Well, at the riverside in Shimada, one
can do--the entire Tokaido! The religious idea of
substitutionary merit has been applied to the old road. There are
55 plaques with Hiroshige's pictures, and 55 stones engraved with haiku,
as well as 55 signs showing the haiku in clear writing. So
even though I started at 3:00 today, I did the whole Tokaido!
I finally reached the river's edge.
This is an unusual shot for me; I'm usually looking at rivers from above.
Here I'm looking back at the bridge on the
River Oi. (Everybody whistle.) According to one pamphlet
this bridge is 850 meters (2,762.5 feet) long. That's
over half a mile! It was by far the longest bridge I've crossed.
No wonder crossing this river was such an enterprise in the old days.
After a mosey through a quiet
neighborhood, I started climbing toward Kanaya train station.
Tomorrow's walk promises several saka (slopes) and some ishidatami
(stone paving), as well as a weeping stone. Tune in.