may have noticed that the starting point--"Miya"--is in quotes.
That's because I didn't actually go there.
At the end of yesterday's Logbook, I was
at the ferry dock for the Shichiriwatashi, the "Seven Ri
Ferry." This used to be the ferry that went from Miya to Kuwana.
Well, it doesn't run any more. So I began my day by taking the train
to Kuwana. Today's completed distance was a whopping 43.9
kilometers! Minus, of course, the 28 of the ferry. So I really
walked around 16 kilometers.
One of the (many) disadvantages of train
travel: in "crossing over" to Kuwana, I also entered Mie
prefecture. I have always known exactly when and where I've left one
prefecture for another, but in this case I hadn't a clue.
Kuwana is a very nice, small city.
The sidewalks are broad, the people are friendly, and the heritage of the
town is well-preserved and sign-posted. One of the first things I
saw today was my old friend Mr. Tanuki. This is one of the classiest
statues I've seen of him.
At the other end of the Shichiriwatashi
I did my official shot for Kuwana, station number 42 on the Old
Tokaido. I'm standing under a torii that marks the spot.
Near here--in fact, just beyond the wall behind me in this picture--are
two restaurants which specialize in the local delicacy: baked clams.
One of the restaurants is located on the site of the honjin or
official inn for this station; the other is on the site of the waki
honjin or secondary inn right next door. They were immediately
adjacent to the ferry dock.
This picture shows new construction; it looks like they're working on a replica of the old ferry
Tokaido: Kuwana, Station #42 on
the Old Tokaido
Hiroshige shows boats coming in to dock;
in the background is Kuwana Castle, subject of the next pictures.
They say that the major reason for this ferry crossing of Ise Bay was that
the numerous rivers flowing into the bay made land travel around the top
difficult. I can testify that the train does indeed cross many
rivers in going around the bay.
Kuwana Castle is gone; all that remains
above ground is this mound, the site of a former tower. (I don't
know the age or provenance of the cannon.)
Kyuka Park was created on
the old castle grounds in 1928. (Both "Kyuka" and "Kuwana"
are alternate pronunciations of part of the castle's old nickname.
It was called "Kyuka Ougi Jo," a kind of fan, because its layout
was fan-shaped.) Completed in 1601, part of the castle was destroyed
by fire in 1701. Then, at the end of the Edo period, Tokugawa forces
held out here against the Emperor's army but were finally defeated.
Although I couldn't find anything that said so, I surmise that the
castle--like many others--was destroyed as part of the Meiji's
One of the castle's primary features was
its access by water. It is situated just a few hundred meters from
the Shichiriwatashi dock, and boats could actually enter and leave
That old system of defensive waterways
now lends beauty to
this park. Where once were fortifications, one now sees gracious
pavilions and delicate bridges. This is truly one of the most charming
places I've visited on this journey.
Some interesting sites in Kuwana: Does
this sign warn that there are Chaplin impersonators ahead? No.
The lettering reads, "Silver Zone," indicating that there are
many seniors on the street here. Indeed, a half-dozen were in sight
as I took this picture!
OK, am I the only one confused here?
The sign says "No crossing," but it's posted at the end of a
crosswalk. (I crossed here.) It reminded me of Stephen
Wright's old gag: "I named [my dog] Stay. When I'd call him I'd say 'C'mere
Stay C'mere Stay...'"
Another Wright line that occurs to me
often during this trip: "Everywhere is walking distance if you have
I don't know if this was a shop, or if
the homeowner here was a major collector, but there were 5 or 6 of these
old temple bells in the front part of this building. It's unusual to
see them on the ground like this. Notice how different the shape is
from the flared-bottomed Western style bell.
Yokkaichi I saw the spires of this church off to the right, and went over
to investigate. This has to be a real church--not a
commercial wedding chapel--right? I mean, it has crosses on
Nope. It's next to a hotel, and
there is no sign indicating the name of the church or anything about a
congregation. It's another "Chapel of Saint Marry," like
the others I've seen. Maybe commercial enterprises are the only ones
that can afford to build such a building. Fewer than 1% of the
population of Japan is Christian, and the Christians that I've
known--other than the Catholics--usually attend home churches.
mystery solved. I had seen several of these wicker carriages around.
I thought they looked too deep for baby carriages. Sure enough,
they're a kind of shopping cart used by older women. Many such women
in Japan are badly stooped; in Tokyo they often use a kind of stroller
made just for them, that doubles as a chair and a cart. But out
here, this style seems to be the mode.
not much to see in Yokkaichi. The JR
site lists only this rice cake shop. Sasaiya was founded in the
early 1500's, and has been making its special "Nagamochi"
rice cake for over 450 years. Wow.
means "Fourth Day Market." Beginning on the 4th of every
month, a six-day market was held here.
It's interesting, then, that the Old
Tokaido here leads into a typical Japanese aa-ke-do: an arcade, or
covered shopping street (complete with a banner celebrating the Old
Tokaido). Imagine the reaction of ancient travelers if they
discovered that a stretch of the old road was tiled, roofed, and air
As I approached today's walking goal, I
had one of those rare and totally unpredictable treats. Lacking any
spectacular or historic temple to pray at, I stopped at one of those
run-of-the-mill, non-descript places. Saishoji is just a gate, a
main hall, a bell, and a cemetery. There are thousands of temples
like it. But a temple is a temple, so I prayed, and then sat down
for a little break
At this point a man came out of the house
on the grounds, came up to me, and started to chat. The usual
questions were followed by: "Would you like some tea?" So
I was invited into the front room of the house (also an office) and had a
nice conversation with the head--and only--priest of the temple.
It seems I keep meeting teachers.
The priest was an elementary teacher for 30 years until, at the age of 53,
he left it to take over this temple. He was very teacherly in his
conversation: though it was all Japanese, he spoke simply, amplified his
ideas, and checked constantly to see if I was following him. Part of
what he said is in today's journal.
He also told me that this was a Jodoshin temple, with--naturally--Amida
Buddha as the main image.
After green tea and a small cake made
from chestnuts, I said my goodbyes and went out to take a few pictures of
the place. This temple is so ordinary that the only picture worth
showing you is the one above: what may be the last morning glory I see in
Japan. (See my haiku
about morning glories the day I left my old home in Tokyo's Shitamachi
And here's today's
goal. You can see that there is a "Y" in the road just in
front of the monuments in the picture. This is not just any old
junction; it's the most famous one on this road. It's the "Hinaga
no Oiwaka," the split in the road at Hinaga.
In the right-hand picture, the pillar on the
right indicates that travelers who take the left fork will be on their way
to Ise Grand Shrine, the most important Shinto site in Japan. Those
who turn right will be headed for Kyoto.
As I approached this landmark, I saw a
man pull up in his car and take out a bunch of empty plastic jugs.
See the little roof in the right-handpicture? It's over a spring that
was just gushing water. I've mentioned before how natural landmarks
often determine human ones; could this point have been chosen for the
diverging of the roads because of the presence of this spring?
the split in the road, I shot my official picture for Yokkaichi.
Though it's about 4 kilometers from the center of the shuku, the
guidebooks all say things like this (from the JR site mentioned above):
travelers left the post station, they almost immediately came upon a large
torii gate..." An hour's walk doesn't qualify as
"almost immediately" in my book!
the way, the size of the photo doesn't make this clear, but I'm scratching
my head as if trying to make a decision in this shot. Har, har, har.
Tokaido: Yokkaichi, Station #43 on
the Old Tokaido
Back in Hamamatsu
I mentioned this print. Then, I had to take my official photo
without my hat because of the wind. Here we see a man chasing his
hat along the Mie River. Tokuriki, author of one of the guidebooks I
use, says the wind is coming from the direction of Ise--it's the
"wind-of-the-gods," he says.
with that, we conclude. I went back to my hostel, repaired my
homepage, and had a great conversation with my one-night roomie, an Aussie
physicist named Sundance. Really.