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Aki Meguri Old Tokaido Logbook:

September 21st, 2001 (Friday):
From somewhere past Mariko to almost Shimada.

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: The Buddhas of the Five Directions (Gochi Nyorai)
Well, today I faced down the third-baddest part of the Old Tokaido: Utsunoya Pass. Naturally, I won.  (Third baddest, but not third worst.  English is funny, ain't it?)

I arrived at the truck stop on the Mariko side and girded for battle.  At that point, modern Highway 1 enters a long tunnel. Interestingly, above that tunnel, there's a Meiji-era tunnel on part of the Old Tokaido.  But true to my Edo-era mission, I took the old footpath that goes over the top of that tunnel.  I missed seeing the Meiji-era brickwork, but as the Japanese say, "Shoganai" (It can't be helped).  You can read Patrick Carey's brief description of his walk through the Meiji tunnel in his book Rediscovering the Old Tokaido.

I started out from the truck stop on a bridge across the new highway.  After a brief climb, the old road turns off, paved in modern colored brick.  Climb again--with great views back (left)--and there's a turn off for a footpath (right).  A brief climb through the woods, and you reach the summit.

Now, this summit is a summit.  On Hakone Pass and Satta Pass, I was never quite sure where the "pass" was.  On this one, it was very clear: a steep uphill portion, a three-meter-long saddle, and you start steeply down again.  Very fulfilling.

The downhill part was mostly hiking path, with a bit of road in the center. Then back onto asphalt and a re-merge with Highway 1. Total time: well under 40 minutes!  To tell the truth, it was a bit anti-climactic.  I could recommend Hakone--up and down again--as a weekend walk.  From Yui to Okitsu over Satta Pass could be a day hike, transportation to and from Tokyo included, and you'd still be home for supper.  But this?  Don't bother, unless you're in the neighborhood.  (But admittedly, the neighborhood is quite beautiful.)

The rest of the day there wasn't much to see.  I mean, if you don't count distant green hills, flowing water, crumbling buildings, and smiling people.  It was mostly just plod-plod-plod along flat land.  (I've gotta get some new shoes.  I passed the 200-kilometer point today; that plus the 100km I did in Chichibu in July--plus some general walking around--has left no more "give" in the soles of my sandals, and it's starting to pain me.  It's all about soles.) 

Okabe is a pretty, small town in a beautiful natural setting, squeezed between hills.  While there are quite a few old buildings, there's virtually nothing of the Old Tokaido above ground level.  If I had known that, I might have done my "official shot" like Hiroshige's, up in Utsunoya Pass.  Instead, here I am in front of someone's gate. The marker next to me indicates that this is the old site of Okabe's honjin (official inn).  It's the best I could do. 

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Okabe, Station #21 on the Old Tokaido

Here is the view of the pass just mentioned. 

Today I said your prayers in a parking lot.  No, really.  I stopped at a "Daily Yamazaki" convenience store between Okabe and Fujieda for a late lunch.  Looking around for a place to sit, I noticed these five guys in the parking lot.  They turned out to be Gochi Nyorai Zo, the Statues of the Buddhas of the Five Directions.  You can learn more about them in this Words and Pictures.  (Because they were in a parking lot, not a temple, there will be no signature in the stamp book.)

If Okabe was bad in terms of visible remnants, Fujieda was terrible!  The 22nd station had a map showing where things were, posted in the center of town; but I couldn't even find markers to indicate the locations!  Hiroshige shows people getting ready for a trip; I suppose I could have shot a gas station or something.

Instead, I went for Alternate Hiroshige.  The prints that I've been showing you are from the Hoeido Edition, the most reproduced of them all. But he did several other series, including one called the Gyosho. 

Hiroshige's Tokaido: Fujieda, Station #22 on the Old Tokaido

The image above is from the Hoeido Edition showing the activity of transport professionals at the Fujieda station. The one below, from the Gyosho series, shows people crossing the nearby Seto River. 

And here I am on the bridge across the Seto, for my official picture at Fujieda, station 22 of the Old Tokaido. 

I pushed on until darkness fell and rain started--the beginning of another typhoon, as it turned out.  I jumped on the train at Rokugo station--about 30 minutes' walk from Shimada, the next station of the Tokaido--and headed back to my room in Shizuoka.


The Body

When I first came to Japan, I trained with 8 other people to teach Aeon-style lessons.  One of my training buddies, Mike, was a veteran bungee jumper.  He told a great story about his first jump.  He said it took a long time to get to the jumping point, and he couldn't imagine what was taking so long.  When his turn came, they strapped him up and told him to jump.  He said OK, stood in the right position--and couldn't move.  It took him minutes and minutes to finally jump.

His feet, you see, were smarter than his brain.

His brain kept sending signals: "Jump!"  And his feet kept answering: "No!"

I'm learning how to listen to my body as I walk.  Joseph Campbell said the brain is "a secondary organ.  It thinks it's in charge, but it's not."  Elsewhere he said that Jung's basic idea about dreams was that they resulted from the organs of the body communicating with each other.

"Let me hear your body talk," indeed.  My feet tell me when to take a break, my throat says when to drink, my belly says when to eat.  Once I do stop to rest, my legs start telling me when it's time to get up and go (I get antsy).  So while the brain thinks it's making plans, it's the rest of the body that's really calling the shots.

Two anecdotes:

When Euro-Americans attend Hopi dances, it's said that the "clowns" sometimes run up to them with big wind-up alarm clocks set to noon, shouting, "It's time to be hungry!  It's time to be hungry!"

And again: Gulliver and the horse-like Houyhnhnms about when to eat and sleep: they did so when their bodies told them to, whereas Gulliver wanted to do it on a schedule.

Do we listen to our bodies?  I think not, as a rule.  But if we do, I think it will tells us what it wants, and distinguish that from what it needs.

Right now mine is telling me I need sleep.  Adios.

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