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Aki Meguri Old Tokaido Logbook:

September 23rd, 2001 (Sunday):
From Kanaya to Kakegawa

Note: In the original Aki Meguri pages, the Old Tokaido stage had separate journal entries on most days.  These have now been added at the bottom of this page.

 
Today's Words and Pictures: Suwahara Castle, Kyuenji
 
Well, I got a couple of tips regarding shoes and ran them down this morning.  Useless.

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 page.

Hiroshige's 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.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Kanaya, Station #24 on the Old Tokaido

Here, for the record, is Hiroshige's eight-billionth river scene.

As 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 page.

A woman weeding the road Cutting and drying rice stalks

One 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.

Walkers Talkers

Today 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 togetherness.

I also saw lots of people in pairs just sitting and talking out in the good weather.  A marvelous day.

This 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 this again.

But it had its rewards.  Like my first view of Mount Fuji since Oiso.

And 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

Now 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 would be.

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 crying.

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 me!

Legends 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 weeping items: There was also a Weeping Pine along the way.  I think a real folklorist could find some real gems here.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Nissaka, Station #25 on the Old Tokaido

The Hiroshige print mentioned above, featuring the rock and its admirers.

But 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?)

My official shot for Nissaka, station number 25.  Here I am with the stone...maybe.

Nissaka 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.

At the far end of the street is a museum of Edo-period life.  I stepped in for a few quick shots (free admission!).

On 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!

Just 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.

Kakegawa 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 marker correctly:

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 'fusetsu gaki'.

On 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 1798.

There's more at another site:

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.

Here's my official shot for Kakegawa, in front of the castle's Otemon.

One 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!

Here's 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.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Kakegawa, Station #26 on the Old Tokaido

Another river.

That's 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 cheap!)

 
Journal
Entry

Honesty, Veracity, Equanimity

Yeah, I know: it sounds like a university's slogan (an alma motto?).

But it's actually a virtue list.  You know, like the Ten Commandments?  Or the Boy Scout Law?

So here are three ideas that I find really important, and how they relate to my current experiences.

Honesty

It's hardly ever heard, but mostly what I need from you.

Jesus said it's not what goes into a man that makes him dirty, it's what comes out of him.  What we do says a lot about what we are.  So honesty is important.  I think it often needs to be tempered by other virtues--kindness, for example--but in the final analysis it can't be sacrificed to anything.

On the page about "My Mission" is a list of rules for the pilgrim.  Read these carefully:

1.  Do not kill.

2.  Do not steal.

3.  Do not engage in inappropriate sex.

4.  Do not tell lies.

5.  Do not flatter others untruthfully.

6.  Do not speak badly of others.

7.  Do not be deceitful.

8.  Do not be greedy.

9.  Do not get angry.

10.  Do not cause wrongful thinking by others.

Note that three of these (numbers 4, 5, and 7) are directly about honest speech, and number 2 is about honest action.  Number 10 is also peripherally about honesty, though it could be about honestly encouraging others to do something wrong!

Japan is a big country for--how can I say it?--un-honesty.  I don't mean it's a nation of liars.  I mean that wa--harmony--is often more important than directness.  It's an often-told story: The American insists on a two-week delivery date.  The Japanese know that this is impossible.  But instead of a direct "No way, Jose," the Japanese say something like, "Delivery on time is very important" meaning "We can't do it, so we aren't going to promise."  The American hears this as "Can do."  Later, then, he says he's been lied to.  But all the Japanese did is avoid confrontation and maintain wa.

Another important idea is the difference between tatemae and honne.  The first is the "public face"; the second is the true idea or feeling.  Wearing your tatemae in public promotes wa; going around telling your true feelings would destroy it.  So group unity is more important than telling your true opinion.

We do this, too.  If you ask a near-stranger, "How are you?" and he begins reciting a list of troubles, you'll be horror-stricken.  You usually want to hear, "Fine, thanks" and move on.

But the kind of honesty I'm talking about goes beyond such ideas of social custom.  I'm talking about authenticity, about finding the life you want to lead and living it.  I hope that when I die people will say, "He was true to himself.  He followed his bliss."  For better or for worse.

Veracity

If you check your dictionary, you may find yourself thinking, "Veracity and honesty mean the same thing."  But I'm using a special definition for this one.  Dr. Huston Smith, one of the great teachers of the Perennial Philosophy (which I have adopted as my personal "religion") uses the term to mean, "Seeing things as they are," which is one of the great virtues of Buddhism.

Dr. Smith explains it like this:

Think of the mind as a mirror.  In this mirror we see the world.  Notice that the mind is not the world, but a reflection of it.  Now, imagine that every experience we have, every thought we think, leaves its mark on the mirror.  Soon we can't see the world in the mirror; we can only see it dimly through our experiences and previous thoughts.

The job of "true religion" is to clean the mirror, and see things as they really are.  This means suspending judgment and observing closely, without preconception or prejudice.  As Hamlet said, "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

This is a prerequisite for behaving authentically, acting with honesty.

This trip is a microcosm of real life.  On this journey, wishin' and hopin' aren't enough.  I won't get to Kyoto by thinking about it, so the reality of the situation slaps me in the face daily.

Equanimity

Once we see things as they are, we need to accept them as they are.

In the first days of this trip, I expected to use no vehicles.  Accepting the reality of my situation, I had to change that plan.  But in the last weeks before I left, every time I missed a train or had to run to make a connection, I thought, "Boy!  I'm glad I'm not going to to have to do this anymore!"

But I do have to.  And it's a good thing.  Today I arrived at a station at 10:00, and thought that the next train left at 10:12.  Great!  Only 12 minutes waiting.  Then I realized it was at 12:20.  No problem, just 8 more minutes.  When the train arrived, it was a limited express.  The next local train was at 10:56!

Now, how much worrying would a man have to do to make that train come earlier?  Jesus said that by worrying you can't change the color of one hair.  So the only thing to do is accept the situation, and wait with equanimity.

That, by the way, is one of the key elements of the Japanese personality.  From trivial problems like a delayed train to major catastrophes, the response that is ingrained in the national psyche is shoganai--"it can't be helped."  So dealing with the needs of travel helps me, in a small way, to get in tune with this tranquil approach to things.

+++++++++++++++++

These three are my practice: Honesty, Veracity, and Equanimity, all built on a foundation of that Queen of all virtues: Compassion.

 
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