last night's debacle, a good night's sleep was just what I
needed--and I got one!
Also, I was given "special
permission" for a morning shower by the nice guy at the
hostel. Things were looking up already.
Having discovered that the Youth
Hostel in Otsu where I planned to stay had shut down for good, I
made a reservation at one in Omi Hachiman. Since I had
splurged on the Shinkansen last night, I took local express trains
all the way to Omi Hachiman, stashed my bag, and continued onward
to Mikumo, and the bus for Tsuchiyama.
first thing to see in Tsuchiyama is Tamura Shrine. It's
unusual to find a shrine named for an everyday person; it's like
finding "Saint Bob Smith Church." But I had good
reason to worship at Tamura Jinja.
Here's what JR
says about it: "The ancient warrior Sakanoue no Tamuramaro
(758-811) gained great renown for his bravery in subduing the
eastern provinces. At that time, he rooted out the bandits that
infested the Suzuka mountains, and this venerable shrine was built
on that occasion." So in a way, I owed my safe crossing
of Suzuka Pass to him (though it definitely felt like some
of the bandits were still watching me!).
with many shrines, this one has steps leading down to a river,
usually for ceremonial purposes. The river is the Tamuragawa,
the same one shown in...
Tokaido: Tsuchiyama, Station
the Old Tokaido
Some of the men in a daimyo's
procession are shown crossing the Tamura.
at the shrine: this horse. Remember my discussion of ema
on October 4th? A few of the grander shrines--Toshogu in
Nikko, for example, or Ise Jingu--keep live horses. And
other old shrines often have statues like these--a reminder of the
days of animal (and even human) sacrifice.
shuku begins with a rather gaudy tourist stop. It
then becomes a nice stroll, which will be even nicer when the road
repairs are finished. Along the way is this amazing museum dedicated to the horse-handlers and other travel
here's my official shot for Tsuchiyama, station number 49
on the Old Tokaido. The diorama inside the museum shows a daimyo's
procession of nearly 100 people. But far more travel on the
road was by foot or--as with my friends here--one man and a horse.
A horseman seldom rode; he led the horse as it carried cargo or a
passenger. So he was a Tokaido walker, too!
know I promised not to belabor you with still more pictures of old
houses. But this one was splendid, and the lighting was
magnificent, and it stands on the site of the old honjin (official
inn). So I couldn't resist.
to Minakuchi, after a long road between.
At the entry to the shuku
are these signboards, which I mentioned when I briefly visited the
museum in Shono.
The Tokugawa government used to post these with official
pronouncements, etc. So my official shot for
Minakuchi is of me reading one. Get it?
Just past these signs, the road
splits into three parts. It's the only place on the Tokaido
where there are parallel routes through a town, all designated as
"the Tokaido." Because they're quite
narrow, I wonder if the alternatives were necessary here, not so
far from the Imperial capital of Kyoto.
Tokaido: Minakuchi, Station
the Old Tokaido
He shows a simple town scene.
The women are shaving and drying gourds, still a local product.
has a large number of very tall warehouses like this one.
Can you guess what they're for? I counted 5 in the town,
including one that's part of the Community Center; and I'm sure
there are more.
This model in a glass case by the central bus stop should give you
That's right: they're
"garages" for the tall floats or dashi (also
called hoko or yama) that are used in festivals.
You can see one in my Logbook for September
through town, I thought this cartoon on a dry-cleaning shop looked
familiar. Anybody recognize this guy? (Hint: he
got into hot water for visiting a particular shrine in Tokyo--perhaps
that's why he looks so uncomfortable?)
last shot of the day: "The Stone of Minakuchi."
That's what the sign said. It said other things, too, but I
have no idea what. Nice stone, huh?
There's a castle turret replica
somewhere in Minakuchi, but it was late and dark and cold, and I
just saw one at Kameyama. So I skipped it; I'll see it next
time I walk the Tokaido.
I promised a sequel to the bus story. Here it is: today, on
my return ride, I met the same driver! He was delighted to
see me, and I him. He told me that he had felt bad
personally and as a representative of his company (no small
company: Japan Railways). So he was relieved to see me
pushing on cheerfully. I'll never forget this guy. (And
he gave me another freebie!)
returned to Omi Hachiman, had a quick dinner near the station, and
took a bus out to the Youth Hostel. The route seemed
strangely familiar; then I realized that I had ridden this same
bus to visit one of the 33 Kannon Temples in Kansai.
The hostel is a beautiful
historic building (picture tomorrow). The only drawbacks:
sleeping ten to a room (and I snore), and no connection for my
computer. So for the next few days I'll probably be
uploading in the mornings, from the station area, as I will with