I got a couple of tips regarding shoes and ran them down this
But it was another spectacular
day, weather-wise, so it was with great excitement that I go off
the train at Kanaya and headed up the slope. Two
slopes, actually. First the upslope of Kanayazaka and its
partner the downslope of Kikugawazaka; then the torturous
(but beautiful) Sayo-no-Nakayama Pass.
As the road leaves the station
area, my old friends Yaji and Kita--in the official Shizuoka
Prefecture rendering--showed up on a street sign. I've been
seeing them since I left Kanagawa Prefecture at Hakone Pass, but
never so prominently.
The sign says more than just
"The Old Tokaido Road"; the last two characters say ishidatami:
the stone paving that I first met on the Hakone climb, and which I
featured on a Words and Pictures
image for this station is another &%#$" river crossing
(see my rant about this yesterday),
so I decided to do my official shot for Kanaya on the ishidatami.
Tokaido: Kanaya, Station
the Old Tokaido
Here, for the record, is
Hiroshige's eight-billionth river scene.
I started up the road, I saw this cute, small rokudo, or
six-sided hall. It is dedicated to the ishidatami
(like putting a shrine in the ichirizuka).
Near the top of the slope there's a
turn-off to the remains of another great mountain castle, Suwahara
Castle. There's not much here above ground--but it's what's
below ground that counts: over a dozen moat excavations. Check it
out on this largely wordless Words and Pictures
woman weeding the road
and drying rice stalks
of the pleasures of walking out in the countryside is seeing
people doing jobs you never imagined. The left picture is of
a woman weeding the ishidatami. The right two show the cutting and
drying of rice stalks. It was cool: the machine the man is
using automatically ties and cuts off the stalks, then throws them
out to the side. Other workers then pick them up and hang
them to dry.
was Sunday. Moreover, this stretch of road is one of the 10
portions being heavily promoted for walkers by Japan Railways (JR)
for the 400th Anniversary of the Tokaido. Thus, I was definitely
not alone today. I met a nice couple from Edogawa, Tokyo
(Hi!), and a few more besides.
Most walkers were man-and-wife in
their fifties or sixties. I also saw a few younger couples,
some family groups, and a few sets of grandparents with one
grandkid. It gave me a warm feeling to see this type of
I also saw lots of people in
pairs just sitting and talking out in the good weather. A
is Tea Country. I walked through tea fields, past tea shops
and tea factories and tea shops in tea factories. JR's flyer
for this stretch of road shows tea growing.
What nobody mentions is that this
is Sayo-no-Nakayama Pass. Remember the ratings? Hakone
is supposed to be the toughest climb, with Satta Pass number 2 and
Utsunoya Pass number 3.
I disagree. For some
reason, Sayo-no-Nakayama seemed second only to Hakone (which is in
a class by itself). I would rather do Satta twice than do
it had its rewards. Like my first view of Mount Fuji since Oiso.
the beautiful Kyuenji, home of the Night Weeping Stone (sort of).
Here's a Words and Pictures about
the temple itself. I said your prayers here today, but there
was no one around to sign my book or answer my questions, so the
place is a mystery.
The stone at Kyuenji
about that stone. The yonaki-ishi, or Night Crying
Stone, is a major deal in the area. As you'll see below,
it's the subject of Hiroshige's print for Nissaka. There's a
stone and a legend.
Well, two stones and two
legends. At least.
For the moment, though, let's
pretend there's one of each until we sort this out.
Here's the essence of the legend:
Long ago, a pregnant woman was attacked on Sayo-no-Nakayama Pass.
She was robbed and killed. A stone nearby began to cry
loudly, and someone found the woman, delivered the baby, and
ensured that it would grow up safely.
Now, some say that a priest found
the baby; others say villagers. Some say the priest raised
the child, others that he gave the child to the villagers to
raise. It's all a bit muddled, as any good oral tradition
Most agree that the baby was
raised on a special "Nursing Syrup" that you can still
buy near Kyuenji temple.
Most also add that the child grew
up and avenged his mother's murder.
So much for the legend(s).
Now how about the stone?
Well. Hiroshige shows it in
the middle of the road; a modern marker identifies the spot.
That much is agreed.
But the stone was moved,
according to one source in the Meiji Period (1868-1912).
But to where? My picture
shows the stone at Kyuenji. But other sources say it's
behind Izumiya, a tea shop over on Highway 1. (Here's
a picture of that stone.)
Shizuoka Prefecture's homepage
honestly states: "There are actually two stones that are
called the Crying Stone." Dang! What if I took my
official picture (below) with the wrong one!
But I like my stone. Legend
says that Kobo Daishi--patron of the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route,
where I'm heading--is the one who moved the stone to Kyuenji.
Another legend says that he engraved it with a prayer to stop the
I think my stone wins.
Besides, my little guidebook says
the stone was moved by a priest to his mistress's tea shop to
attract more business. Sounds like the stone on Highway 1 to
aside, take another look at that stone. It's round.
Like, real round. It's a natural anomaly of some
sort. There's a second round stone next to the Crying Stone
at Kyuenji. And here is another round stone, next to this building at a little shrine called
Hakusan Jinja a little ways past Kyuenji.
So this area breeds these
peculiar round stones. One (or two) were especially large,
and a story got attached. The Sayo-no-Nakayama area is into
There was also a Weeping Pine along the way. I think a real
folklorist could find some real gems here.
Tokaido: Nissaka, Station
the Old Tokaido
The Hiroshige print mentioned
above, featuring the rock and its admirers.
once again, HIROSHIGE IS A BIG FAT LIAR. Look at the mild upward
slope in this picture, and compare it to his! (Maybe he had to
squeeze to fit everything into the frame?)
official shot for Nissaka, station number 25. Here I am with
itself--at the bottom of Sayo-no-Nakayama Pass--is a
well-preserved street of old buildings. The site of the
former honjin (official inn) is now a school.
the far end of the street is a museum of Edo-period life. I
stepped in for a few quick shots (free admission!).
down the road: I told you before that the Japanese love bridges.
Well, this approach to a shrine across the river is somewhat
atypical--after the grand gateway leading to it, those are simply planks
across the water!
after entering Kakegawa, I encountered these men moving a dashi,
a kind of parade float used in festivals. The hooded figure
on the top is Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Ieyasu Tokugawa's main
rivals. (Learn more
about him on Richard Hooker's remarkable Japanese history
site.) No one could explain to me why his face was covered.
The festival will be October 5-7;
the dashi had just been taken out on this fine Sunday
afternoon for cleaning and preparation.
is a very atmospheric castle town. The approach is famous
for its nanamagari "seven turns," a defensive
measure--and a bane to Tokaido walkers!
Near the highway, on my way to
the castle, I encountered this grave. The marker gives the
name (in Japanese syllabic characters) "Keisuberuto Henmii."
From what I could make out, this was a foreigner from Dejima (the
foreign compound in Nagasaki). He died along the way, as a
delegation was required to travel from Dejima to Edo once a year.
Update 2005: Wow! I
finally found a reference to this on a
page about Dutch/Japanese relations, and I apparently read the
Contacts between the
Dutch and Japanese authorities also took place during the annual
'court journey'. Just as regional Japanese leaders, the Dutch
Opperhoofd from Deshima had to pay annual tribute to the Shogun in Edo
and provide a detailed report on affairs in the outside world, the so-called
this annual epic journey that could take up to three months the
Opperhoofd was usually accompanied by the VOC surgeon and some
employees together with the Oranda-Tsuji and civil servants of the
Nagasaki authorities - a total of some 150 to 200 persons. The
procession with the 'Red Haired Barbarians' attracted many curious
onlookers - the trip was known as the 'Edo Sanpu' and completed some
170 times. Partly over land to Shimonoseki in north Kyushu, the
mission proceeded on by boat to the Hyogo/Osaka area and continued to
Edo via the Tokaido-route. A poignant reminder of their passing is
the grave of Opperhoofd Hemmij in the small city of Kakegawa, dated
There's more at another
But Kakegawa is home to a mystery, a
whodunit? which remains an enigma to this day.
Gijsbert Hemmij, the opperhoofd, or
director of the Dutch East India Company's trading post at Deshima,
Nagasaki, became ill, died and was buried in Kakegawa, in June 1798.
He was on his way back to Nagasaki after the customary visit to Edo.
Rumours at the time suggested that he
had committed suicide... Yet another version of the rumour is that the
Shogun's law enforcers poisoned Hemmij...
... On the other hand, the poor man
may just have been sick. It has been suggested that his symptoms were
close to those of typhoid....
The opperhoofd's well-kept tomb sits
prominently in a small graveyard attached to the Ten-nen-ji Temple in
Kakegawa, just one street north from and running parallel to the old
Tokaido Highway, which the late director's colleagues took back to
Nagasaki after burying their chief.
A three-page pamphlet...describes the
tomb and includes it in the itinerary of a two-hour walking tour of
Kakegawa's main sights.
An answer to the mystery may well be
buried in some dusty archive. Or, more likely, it lies with Hemmij in
his lonely roadside tomb. Strange things happened on the Tokaido, and
Kakegawa to this day is home to a dark secret.
The ellipses are mine; read the
page for the rest of the story.
my official shot for Kakegawa, in front of the castle's Otemon.
of these girls volunteered to push the shutter for my official
shot, when she saw me preparing to run for position. We had
a quick chat afterward, and I took this picture. Thanks, girls!
a long shot of the castle keep, from near the Otemon. (You
can also see it above the right-hand girl's head in the picture above,
to give you some idea how far away it is.) There
are lots of pictures of this castle on the web; here's
one with a brief explanation of the castle's history.
Tokaido: Kakegawa, Station
the Old Tokaido
all! Tomorrow I'm moving my base from Shizuoka to Araimachi,
beyond Hamamatsu. I've walked over halfway there, so it's
time to relocate. (Besides, it's a youth hostel--very