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Aki Meguri Old Tokaido Logbook:

September 20th, 2001 (Thursday):
From somewhere past Ejiri (Shimizu)
to somewhere past Mariko.

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.

After laundry (!) I returned to Kusanagi station to pick up where I had left off.

The first half of today's walk was city streets, weaving in and out of train tracks, etc.  One rather surprising thing about the Tokaido is that--whether city street or hiking trail--it still exists, and often seems to be the preferred route.  But today, for the first time (other than at ferry crossings) I reached a part that's gone.

In Shizuoka city, the road crosses and re-crosses a wide railroad right-of-way, and just stops--twice.  I had to detour over or under the tracks on other roads.  Considering that I was somewhere near 170 kilometers from Tokyo, it's amazing that it hasn't happened before.

There were no landmarks of note along the way, so I didn't get my camera out until I passed Shizuoka station and reached the site of Sunpu Jo, or Sunpu Castle: one of Ieyasu Tokugawa's main seats.

Little remains of the castle today.  It is said that it burned down in a fire started in a pile of pigeon dung (spontaneous combustion?).  In fact, I had a funny experience regarding the castle's remains.  On that trip to Shizuoka three years ago (mentioned yesterday), I asked my friend Tomoko if we could see "the castle."  There's no castle, she said, only a park.  I showed her a brochure, and she was shocked!  She had been living in Tokyo for a few years, and what there was to see of the castle--one building--had been built since she moved away!

Nonetheless, the park is quite interesting.  The Shizuoka Prefectural Offices are located inside of the castle's old honmaru, or main keep.  That means the people of the area are still being "ruled" from the same place!

The castle grounds are also a haven for kids.  There were hordes of kindergarteners, high school gym classes jogging, school groups visiting the museum--kids everywhere, including the bird feeder shown here with his dad (yes, dad).

I had a charming encounter with kids as I approached the grounds.  I had stopped to check my map against a street map posted on the border of the grounds.  (Far from lost, I was just orienting.)  Lots of people were passing on the sidewalk, so I didn't take much noticed.  Suddenly, I became aware that someone was waiting for me to answer them.  (Know that feeling?  A sort of psychic nudge?)  Looking down to my right, I realized that three girls of about ten years old were patiently waiting, one of them clearly the leader.  Think fast: you're standing in front of a map--what question was asked?  So even though I knew the answer--I just wanted to validate her kindness in offering-- I responded: "Where is Sunpu Castle?"  To my relief, I had guessed correctly: she had asked if she could help me find something.  She then proceeded to give lengthy, fast, and fluent Japanese directions to a place that was no more than 20 meters away!

Aside from offices, castles, and kids, the park also has a few monuments.  This one--my official shot for Fuchu (Shizuoka)--is a statue of the man himself, first of the Tokugawa shoguns, and founder of the Tokaido Highway, Ieyasu Tokugawa.  (Or is that Ed Asner?)

Although actually born at another station farther down the Tokaido, Okazaki near Nagoya (in 1543), he was sent as a military hostage to Shizuoka at the age of seven.  (It was not unusual for "alliances" to be sealed by the retention of family members; remember that later this same man would later require all the daimyo--barons--under him to leave their wives in Edo as virtual hostages.)

In Shizuoka he lived with the Imagawa family where, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, he was "trained in the military and governmental arts and developed a great love for falconry."  Hence the bird in his hand (which is worth...?).

After his father's murder and the death in battle of his foster father (it was a bloody time), he returned to his family seat at Okazaki.  From there he began the long series of campaigns that led to his being the (ultimately) undisputed leader of Japan's military government.

He successively moved his seats of government to Hamamatsu, then to Sunpu (here--Shizuoka), and finally--after he and Hideyoshi Toyotomi crushed the Hojo at Odawara--to Edo, described by Britannica as "nearly a month's march from Hideyoshi's headquarters near Kyoto."

Two years after becoming shogun, Ieyasu "retired" to Sunpu again, leaving his son Hidetada as shogun.  However, he was as active in retirement as before, especially in the area of foreign relations (the Europeans had arrived).

He died at Sunpu in 1616.

An interesting side note: every city mentioned above--Okazaki, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Odawara, Edo, Kyoto--was a station on the Tokaido.

Ieyasu is all over the net. Here's a great--and heavily-linked--starting point.

After I left the castle grounds, I walked on through Shizuoka's busy Ginza area, then turned off into less-traveled streets, headed toward the Abekawa River, an area famous for its delicious Abekawa Mochi, a sweet rice-paste treat.  The Abe is another "ferry crossing."  They say that Abekawa Mochi was sold under the trees at the crossing (see picture).  It's still sold in shops on the Shizuoka side of the river today.

A funny thing: On the Tokaido train line, "Abekawa" station is followed by "Mochimune."  So when the trains are announced, they say "Abekawa, Mochimune,..."  It sounds like an advertisement!

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Fuchu, Station #19 on the Old Tokaido

Hiroshige's print for Shizuoka is of people crossing the Abekawa in various ways.

After a bit more urban sprawl, the road turns off into picturesque Mariko, station 20.  Here I am in front of the teahouse depicted by Hiroshige--or its descendant.

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Mariko, Station #20 on the Old Tokaido

This is the teahouse in question.  The one I saw looks bigger, grander--but all insist that it's the same one.  I visited here with the Maruyamas three years ago, and can still remember the sensation of seeing something so closely linked with the Old Tokaido--part of what led me to do this.

Past Mariko I stopped at this small temple to pray.  Chonenji is Rinzai Zen (I seem to be hitting a lot of those by "accident") with a main image of Amida Buddha.  The main attraction, however, is that this temple sports a "Mizuko Kannon."

 Mizuko--"water babies"--is the term applied to children who have died, especially as the result of abortion.  This is big business in the religion racket here in Japan.  People pay a fortune in "guilt money" to appease the souls of their dead children and help ease their passage in the underworld.  

Shown here are, first, the Kannon, and second a charming nude Benten-sama, the only woman of Japan's Seven Lucky Gods, and the patroness of music (hence the biwa, a traditional stringed instrument).

For the first time this trip, I encountered a manned temple with no one who could sign my book.  (All other unsigned days were at closed, unstaffed temples--or at shrines.)

Toiling onward, I stopped before entering a tunnel, and took a bus back to Shizuoka station.  Tomorrow morning, I will strike off up the mountain over the tunnel, to Utsunoya Pass, said to be the third toughest part of the route (after Hakone and Satta).


The Road

There are some interesting things about this road I'm walking.  To sum them all up, I would say that this road has human dimensions.

Here's what I mean.

Going up Hakone, I noticed that sometimes the cars would be switching back and forth while I went straight up, using stairs.  At other points, the cars were doing a bee-line while my road meandered.  After crossing the Fuji River on my way to Kambara, where the various Tokaidos intertwine, I noticed that often the various roads paid heed to various needs: level for the railway; in a cleared, sometimes elevated right-of-way for the new expressway; and along the hill for my road, the easiest place to walk.

Until recently, the mileage on my road has actually been less than that of the car roads, so we would walk less distance.  And the road never climbs unnecessarily.  A couple of times I've avoided becoming lost by saying, "Wait a minute.  There's no reason for the road to go up here," and casting around 'til I found the correct--level--road.

This human-ness manifests in funny ways.  Often the road parallels a larger road, yet the bus line runs on my road.  It's as if, despite the "convenience" of the newer road, the old bond between the road and (walking) humans can't be broken.

I have walked superhighway and country lane, hiking path and crosswalk.  I have walked on earth, stone, grass, gravel and asphalt.  I have climbed stairs, and pushed through brush.  I have breathed pine incense and truck exhaust.  There is no single defining factor about this road--except its humanness.

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