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October 25, 2013
Day 22 - Old Tokaido

During the Edo Period (1603-1867), the old Tokaido Route was the most important route in Japan, linking the imperial capital Kyoto with the shogunate capital Edo (present day Tokyo). The journey on the Tokaido then was usually made on foot or sometimes on horse. Along the way, 53 post towns were built as pit stops to provide for lodging and the replenishment of supplies.

Today, the post towns along the old Tokaido no longer serve their traditional purposes, but sections of some of these towns have been preserved for their historical value. Along the route, you can occasionally see monuments, old structures and other vestiges of the past, presenting scenes reminiscent of bygone centuries.

Today's Report
Old Tokaido

With today's walk cancelled due to the typhoon, my local guide, Noda-san, brought me out to see a different Koka with a couple stops along the route I was supposed to walk.

We started the day at Miho museum, where we had the privilege to view the Negoro exhibition. It was absolutely stunning, and I was constantly wondering how people living so many hundreds of years ago make such beautiful and durable furniture.

After the museum and lunch, we headed to part of the old Tokaido route. Noda-san explained that the houses along the road were asked to maintain their exteriors to preserve the old road atmosphere. Some houses have signs on the wall saying what it used to be back when the road was in use. We went into Tenmakan; and the old Honjin, where we were given a tour of the building. (The old lady who gave the tour, is the wife of the 13th descendent of the owner of the house. Phew, that was a mouthful!)

A diorama of the procession accompanying the important person.

Explaining about the garden beyond the room.

Our last stop for today was the Ninja house in Koka, also the only ninja house in Japan. My conclusion after being visiting, is ninjas are very strong and not very tall. They seldom face their enemy head-on, but use lures and subterfuge techniques to capture their foes. Ninjas also are good at the art of making poison and medicine, which makes for a very convincing front! I also had the opportunity to throw shuriken. Let's just say I shouldn't be fighting anyone using shurikens anytime soon. An interesting fact about shurikens is they aren't thrown over long distances (our guide said 2 metres), and ninjas use them sparingly.

You'll have to read it from right to left.

Throwing a shuriken, I managed to hit the target!

I left for tonight's accomodation, Kamoshika Villa, as the skies grew darker. Noda-san advised me to drive carefully as deers tend to jump out onto the road that leads there. I am happy to say that I didn't drive into a deer and neither did a deer crash into my car.

I'm off to enjoy the onsen, see you all in Nagoya!

I didn't crash into one, but I had some deer meat for dinner.

My room is huge!

Metal shuriken, they really don't fly very far.

I could live in a ninja house. Maybe someday.

Left leads to Tokyo, right goes to Kyoto.

Rain chain.

Noda-san and I, travelling on the old Tokaido road.

Dioramas of what you can see at each of the 53 posts along the Tokaido route.

Also displayed at Tenmakan, 53 different types of local produce.

Gigantic makizushi for lunch. The lens cap is there for size comparison.

Shigaraki is famous for ceramics and these are wood fired kilns.

Broken ceramic pieces are pretty too.

The walkway towards Miho Museum.

Today's Program
Today's Walk: Along the old Tokaido Route between Minakuchi and Tsuchiyama post towns

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Important Notice

Due to yet another typhoon, today's walk has been cancelled.

We start the day at the Minakuchi Castle Ruins, where some stone walls, castle gates, and a reconstructed turret still stand. Our tour travels through the old post town of Minakuchi, along the old Tokaido Route, and to the old post town of Tsuchiyama. Along the way, we pass by residential neighborhoods, paddy fields, monuments marking historical landmarks, temples, shrines and old houses from the Edo Period.

Our day concludes at the Tokaido Tenmakan, a facility used in the past as a horse stable where travelers could take a rest and hire fresh horses to continue with their journeys. Today the Tenmakan is open to public as a museum, displaying interesting paintings and models of all 53 post stations along the old Tokaido Route.

Date October 25, 2013
Start Time 9:00
Start Minakuchi Castle Ruins
Goal Tsuchiyama - Tokaido Tenmakan
Distance 12 kilometers (about 5-6 hours)
Terrain Today's terrain is mostly flat and on paved roads.
Weather Average daytime high: 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Hikone
Access The Minakuchi Castle Ruins are a short walk from Minakuchi Jonan Station on the Omi Railways Main Line, which connects Kibukawa Station (5 minutes, 160 yen, 1-2 trains per hour) in the south to Hikone (75 minutes, 930 yen, one trains per hour) and Maibara (90 minutes, 970 yen) in the north. This page shows more information on how to get to Hikone and Maibara. Alternatively, Minakuchi can be accessed via Kusatsu and Kibukawa by the JR Kusatsu Line when coming from Osaka or Kyoto.

The Tokaido Tenmakan is a five minute walk from the Omi Tsuchiyama (近江土山) bus stop, from where the Aikuru Bus (あいくるバス) can be boarded to get to Kibukawa Station (20 minutes, 250 yen, 1-2 buses per hour).

Lodgings The section of the old Tokaido Route that we travel today is located in Shiga Prefecture. Accommodation can be found around the prefecture, especially in the nearby city of Kusatsu.
Search hotels in Shiga through Agoda, or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 22 has passed.

One of the oldest train lines in Japan is the Tokaido Main Line. What is the westernmost station of the Tokaido Main Line?

3%   Kyoto Station
6%   Shin-Osaka Station
0%   Osaka Station
90%   Kobe Station
0%   None of the above

The correct answer is: Kobe Station

The Tokaido Main Line's westernmost station is Kobe Station. In contrast, the Tokaido Shinkansen's westernmost station is Shin-Osaka Station.

Current Standings: (after 30 days)

28 Points: Csabba, AlexanderStankov
27 Points: gladhiola, almoehi, ZoomX2, mikaelus
26 Points: Rabbityama, Proxy707

More about the quiz

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