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Aki Meguri Old Tokaido Logbook:

September 7th, 2001 (Friday):
From Kawasaki to Hodogaya

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: Soujiji
No late start today!  At 5:30 I was rolling up my bag and heading down the road.

But I have still been aware of how the logistics hold me back, so I've made a few changes in my style.  You can read more in today's Journal.

First order of business: my "official" photo of the Kawasaki station.  I am standing in front of a monument to the Rokugo no watashi  or the "Rokugo Ferry."  This crosses the Tama River, the dividing line between Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

Of course, there's a bridge there now.  But the paranoid Tokugawa avoided the building of bridges across large rivers, figuring it was harder to move an army across a ford.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Kawasaki, Station #2 on the Old Tokaido

Edo, and now Tokyo, have long been distinguished from the rest of the country.  "Tokyo isn't Japan," new arrivals are often told.  Traveling toward Tokyo is always "up" in Japanese, and away is "down," no matter the true direction.  You can be in the far north of Hokkaido or down in Okinawa, and say "I'm going up to Tokyo."  Even trains are announced as nobori and kudari--going up or down, to or from Tokyo.

And so, this crossing is of great importance, as here one leaves Edo proper--and enters "the rest" of Japan.  I felt it as I stood on the bridge in the twilight last night.

As I walked along thinking about logistics, an important point slipped my mind: I didn't get a signature at the Kawasaki station.  As the Japanese say, Saru mo ki ni ochiru--"Even monkeys fall from trees," or everyone makes mistakes.  I'll try harder in the future (and try to simplify the logistics).  [In fact, I made this mistake so consistently that I finally gave up.  Read more here.]


Walking toward Tsurumi, I came across this beautiful old jinja or Shinto shrine, named Kumano Jinja.  (There are many of these in Japan; the main one is in Wakayama Prefecture, south of Ise.)  It wasn't on my map.  Then I realized--it was between the two pages of the map!  I have to be careful about this..

Imagine this: Route 66 is no more, but an occasional milestone remains.  So someone builds a church to commemorate the site of the milestone.

That's what you're seeing here.  The Tokaido was measured in ri--about four kilometers, the distance a man (apparently except me) can walk in an hour.

Each ri along the highway was marked on either side by mounds of earth planted with trees.  These were called ichi-ri-zuka--"one-ri-mounds."  This small shrine has been situated on one such mound!

Upon reaching Tsurumi station, I sat in Donut-san (my name for Mr. Donut) for a couple of hours and worked on yesterday's homepage, then dumped my  bag in a locker at the station.

 Next stop: Soujiji, near Tsurumi station, where I said today's prayers.  I've made a Words and Pictures page about it.  This is one of the largest temples in Japan--a real contrast to yesterday's little jewel, Honsenji.  This temple is on a grand scale, and has been right in my back yard all this time, but I had never visited it before.

I went into a gymnasium-sized office to have my book signed, and the young student at the desk--after reading my story--had an omamori or amulet made to protect my travel.

After lunch, I continued toward Yokohama.  Along the way I saw a monument to the (in)famous "Namamugi Incident."

Near the end of the Edo (Tokugawa) period, Japan was caught in a vice.  On the one hand was increasing internal tension between the supporters of the Shogun and those who wanted to restore Imperial power.  On the other was the increasing external pressure to open the country to international exchange.

Conservatives campaigned under the slogan "Revere the emperor, expel the barbarians"--meaning Westerners.

In this climate, bad things were bound to happen.  And so one fine day a party of three British men and a woman set out to visit the great temple Kawasaki Daishi.  As they rode north near the village of Namamugi, a daimyo's procession was coming south.  It was customary to dismount and pay reverence to the passing lord, but the Englishmen didn't know this.  Nor did they understand the Japanese commands to do so.

What happened next has been debated.  Did the daimyo give a command, or did the Samurai act on their own?  In any case, the Englishmen were attacked, one fatally.

This is a monument on the site of that early blow to international relations.  (You can read a longer account of this story in an excerpt from the book Drunk as a Lord.)

An odd side-note: the village's name, Namamugi, means "raw (or fresh) buckwheat."  And the area today is the site of a large Kirin beer brewery!

I couldn't possibly show you every old building, marker, monument, etc., that I see.  But here are two nice things from today's walk:

This old building houses a rice shop.

This monument commemorates an old bridge.



The first ward of Yokohama City one enters is Kanagawa Ward.  This name is now well-known as the name of the prefecture, but few realize it was originally the name of  the 3rd station on the Tokaido when leaving Edo.  The building behind me in my official shot of Kanagawa was the site of the main official inn (honjin) at Kanagawa.

Yokohama itself is an upstart, largely developed after the opening of Japan.  But traces of sleepy little Kanagawa remain.

For example, I had my book signed by this railroad employee, Mr. Kiyoshi Hasegawa, in tiny Kanagawa Station on the Keikyu line.  It's vastly overshadowed by the nearby Yokohama Station complex.

By the way, it always pleases me to see how people get involved in what I'm doing: Mr. Hasegawa suggested that he add the station's stamp (used in touring campaigns) for a touch of "authenticity"!

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Kanagawa, Station #3 on the Old Tokaido

The bayside area of Yokohama has been re-engineered to such a degree that the site of this picture cannot be determined.  The cliff-side shops, though, remind me of a story in Ikku Jippensha's Hizakurige, or "Shank's Mare."  It's a comic novel written serially beginning in 1831, about two men roaming the Tokaido.

When approaching Kanagawa, they are beckoned into one of the cliff-side inns.  "There's plenty of room at the back," says the girl.  "Of course there is," replies one of the travelers. "It runs all the way to Awa and Kazusa"--meaning modern Chiba Prefecture on the other side of the bay!

I'll  write more about Yaji and Kita, the travelers, when I meet them down in Shizuoka Prefecture. 

Nearing Hodogaya, I took a wrong turn and wandered up into the hills.  When I get lost, I just figure "Adventure calls."  And sure enough, I caught this great view of Yokohama's bayside area--something I would have missed if I hadn't gotten lost!

At Tennocho Station--which lies within the boundaries of the old 4th station at Hodogaya--is a little park with a fake "bridge" across it.  This commemorates Hiroshige's print, so I did my best to reproduce it for my official shot at Hodogaya.  (Of the several shots I took, I chose this one because of the lady on the right staring at me--not knowing she would be caught doing so on camera!)

All through my "photo shoot," a homeless guy sat and watched what I was doing.  After I took the shot, I tried to get him to sign my station book.  (Park, homeless guy--it seemed natural.)  No luck.  He wordlessly tried to send me to the police station or the train station--anything, I think, to get me to leave him alone.

I'll have to get my book signed tomorrow.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Hodogaya, Station #4 on the Old Tokaido

Remember, You'll have to look closely to see the difference between my shot and Hiroshige's.

From Hodogaya station I returned to Tsurumi, fetched my bag, and headed to Kita-kamakura to stay with Tom and Yuka.  A good bath, a relaxing evening--this is the way to do it!



A Change in Technique

The realities of the road have--as they always do--caused me to make some changes in my approach to this trip.

There is wisdom to be had here.  One of the main points of Buddhism is to see things as they are, not as we wish they would be, or fear that they might be.

So here are the facts that I have faced:

  • I'm not moving as fast as I expected to.
  • The best parts of the day involve praying and walking.
  • The logistics of authenticity are preventing me from having a full experience.

So I am going to adjust my technique.  Before I continue, let me make some things clear:

  • I will still walk every step of the Tokaido and the Shikoku Pilgrimage.  [Actually, I had to trade off the Shikoku walking later; but I did walk the entire Tokaido.  There will be much waffling about "cheating" etc. throughout these pages!]
  • I will still pray for my friends every day, and at every one of Shikoku's 88  Temples.  [I did.]
  • I will do whatever is necessary to make these two things possible.

Now, let me discuss these matters point-by-point.

I'm not moving as fast as I expected to.

On Day 3 on the road, I passed the point where I expected to sleep on Day 1.  Part of this was because of "old business" that had to be taken care of; part was because of a heavy bag; and part was just my physical condition.  For many reasons, then, I am well behind "Schedule."  The Lesson?  Adjust the schedule to what is, not knock myself out to try to force reality into my preconception.

The best parts of the day involve praying and walking.

I love saying the prayers for my friends.  I love moving forward and seeing new things.

I'm not so crazy about carrying too much, or worrying about where to sleep, or feeling pressure to keep moving because of "the Schedule."

The logistics of authenticity are preventing me from having a full experience.

The journey is the destination.  Focusing on the goal prevents us from appreciating now. "Don't worry about tomorrow," Jesus said, "let tomorrow worry about itself.  Today has enough troubles of its own."

I have been trying to do this like it was the 18th century.  The "logistics of authenticity" means not using any trains, or buses, or whatever, for any reason.  But in the past, there were inns on the road; there were cargo carriers.  The 21st century is not set up for walkers.  Trying to do it that way has cost me time, energy, and happiness.  Adjust, adjust, adjust.

I will still walk every step of the Tokaido and the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Absolutely.  But, as detailed below, I will use modern conveniences to support the walk.  For example, I have used the telephone to find lodgings; people couldn't do this in the past.  So isn't it OK to take a train to get to lodgings?  Sure.  I just need to return to the same spot the next morning, and continue walking.

In order to do this joyfully, I will lose some time.  25 kilometers a day is just too much.  Take a look at part of my original letter:

Since coming to Japan, I have wanted to take two long walks: one of about three weeks, following the route of the old Tokaido Highway from Tokyo to Kyoto; and the other of about six weeks, around the island of Shikoku to visit the 88 temples of Japan's oldest pilgrimage.  And since one can walk from Kyoto to the Shikoku ferry in less than three weeks, I've decided to do it all in September, October, and November, in one long trip.

Notice that the Yamato portion was sort of an afterthought.  So I may have to skip portions of that to get the Tokaido and Shikoku portions done in time.  This will allow time to write, or take side trips.

I will still pray for my friends every day, and at every one of Shikoku's 88 Temples.

It's one of the best parts of the day.  My promise to you is important to me, but more than that, I really like doing it.

I will do whatever is necessary to make these two things possible.

In order to walk and pray, I will use what's available.  Here's an example: My friends Tom and Yuka had asked me to stay with them in Kita Kamakura.  Originally I said "no, it's too far from my route," etc.  This morning--after waking up on concrete--I thought, "Hmmm...Tom and Yuka's."  So I put my bag in a station locker, had a great 15-kilometer walk, then took a train back to pick up my bag, and another train to their house.  I walked, I prayed, now I'm with good friends.  What's wrong with that?  Nothing.

I'll do it again.  Or I'll establish a "base" in a city, and day-walk the route using trains from the base.  For example, I might find a room in Nagoya, take a train back to Hamamatsu, walk as far as I can, take a train back to my room, go back to my stopping place the next morning, etc.

This takes care of my two biggest problems: my bag, and finding a room at the end of a long walk.  Japanese hoteliers do not like walk-ins.  But making a reservation without knowing how far I'm going to get is tough.  Doing it this way leaves me free to walk.


When I look at the Logbooks for September 3rd and 4th, I see a lot of negativity.  I want you to know that this page is written in a completely different spirit.  I am writing with a spirit of freedom, and a sense of joy.

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