Posted tagged ‘Hiroshige’

– encounter 13b – Utsunoya

February 17, 2016

All of our countries have routes that maybe our ancestors didn’t walk on, but which someone used. The indigenous population of Australia have lived on that land for at least 45,000 years. We have a land seeped in history. Only thing is, it isn’t ours. Different climates required different needs, and that which has been well-documented and has physical, tangible remains is maybe more accessible and familiar to the western imaginations, and perhaps provides many people with a touchstone to received and learnt, perhaps cellular, images of the past.

The paths that surround Utsunoya are linked to its history as being a town on the Old Tokaido road, and in fact, some of the original path can still be walked through the hills. To hike through those hills and visit the beautiful park nearby alone is worth it.That is, it’s cool to walk the path, but it would be cool to walk it without knowing it’s history too, though maybe not as cool.

What is suggested for exploration in the Utsunoya area by most websites seems to be a quick walk to Utsunoya from the road stop, if that’s where you disembarked from the bus. I walked up from Mariko basho. . . .

nearby_soba

A sign to a soba restaurant just over the bridge, and in Utsunoya. Hiking is always best rewarded with a lovely bowl of soba or udon.

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This way to the Meiji Tunnel and other attractions.

tunnel sign

Keep going. A map at the entrance of Utsunoya.

 

Hiroshige

A replication of one of Hiroshige’s paintings, or in his style, of Utsunoya, or the Old Tokaido passing by it.

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Through the town itself.

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A few tourists were wandering around, but it was the later afternoon, wet and rainy. No tourists in this photo!

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Many things were shut up.

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It was still beautiful though. A dog barked at me constantly from the safety of his house. I couldn’t find the soba restaurant, but I didn’t look too far. I had a mountain to hike!

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The stairs up to the tunnel.

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Keep climbing.

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Signs. Tunnel, tunnel, tunnel. If you look at the map way up above, there is more than one!

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Signs.

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Signs.

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Signs to the old Tokaido Rd. I would be coming back to this, but was turning left for now.

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Signs to the tunnel.

Utsunoya is picturesque, and a walk through the Meiji-era Utsunoya Pass tunnel, which was the first toll road in Japan is definitely worth it. There is nothing wrong with the traditional itinerary.

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Suruga side

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Suruga side

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Suruga side.

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Looking back at the Suruga side.

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On the way through.

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In the centre.

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Utsunoya Pass, Meiji era tunnel brickwork.

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Okabe side.

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Commemorating the importance of the tunnel, according to this site.

contraption

Again – are these machines used for transporting harvested tea?

Walking through the tunnel, you are departing areas contained within Shizuoka City (Suruga ward), and you exit into areas contained within Fujieda City (Okabe). The recommended itinerary might also tell you to, double back, and then walk up and over the hills along what is left of the Old Tokaido Road.

Old Tokaido Road Sign 2

Clearly marked on the right.

Old Tokaido Rd Sign 3

Less clearly marked, right where you need to turn, as is so often the case in Japan. Even so, I’m grateful for the signs in English when they are there.

Old Tokaido Rd stairs

Walking up to the Old Tokaido Rd.

Old Tokaido Rd jizo

Respects being paid to ancestors and gods,  on the corner overlooking Utsunoya.

Old Tokaido Rd village overview 1

An earlier photo showing how little the village below has changed.

Old Tokaido Rd village

Utsunoya.

Old Tokaido Rd bamboo

Bamboo brushing the curve of the road.

Old Tokaido Rd monument 2

Monument on Old Tokaido Rd, Utsunoya.

Old Tokaido Rd information

Information which I cannot read. It pertained to some foundation stones in the area.

Old Tokaido Rd foundation

These were foundations of maybe an inn. Below were the foundations of maybe a shrine, according to this site.

Old Tokaido Rd crest

Up and over the crest of the Old Tokaido Rd. Heading into the Fujieda shi side of thigs.

Old Tokaido Rd rise 1

And again.

Old Tokaido Rd tree roots 1

I thought that a storm must have blown through here recently. But photos on the Net from a number of years ago seem to indicate that this part of the path is always full of tree litter, and exposed roots.

Old Tokaido Rd tree roots 2

I can imagine monsoonal rain bringing these down in mudslides. They were beautiful, though. Magestic.

Old Tokaido Rd other side

Okabe side.

Old Tokaido Rd other side sign 1

Old Tokaido Rd sign on the Fujieda side of things.

Old Tokaido Rd other side sign 2

An entrance here, an entrance there.

Where you at?

There are a lot of maps around like this. If you can read a little kanji, it will help, but they can also give you a visual sense, even if you can’t.

Old Tokaido Rd other side sign 3

Old Tokaido Rd, Utsunoya, this way AND this way. You can see a haka (cemetery) in the background. That is a mikan (like a mandarin) tree just behind too. It was bearing fruit.

Old Tokaid Road tree roots 3

I retraced my steps. Many magnificent trees, though I don’t know how deeply their roots ran. I turned around to take this photo. I wasn’t walking in this direction.

Old Tokaido Rd stone marker

Stone marker.

Old Tokaido Rd information

Information.

Old Tokaido Rd Suruga side

Coming back to the Suruga side of the Old Tokaido Rd. It was beautiful walking through the hills with the rain tapping on the leaves, and birds singing. The rain was not too heavy, though I definitely needed my umbrella.

Old Tokaido Rd leading to tunnel stairs

If you could (you can’t) take those stairs, it would take you within proximity of the Utsunoya Pass Meiji tunnel.

Old Tokaido Rd Suruga side 2

I wandered once more to the Meiji Tunnel and walked through it.

What I would suggest you do however, rather than just the suggested itinerary, if you have the time, and your purpose is hiking, is to take the Tsuta no hosomichi from just behind the Utsunoya rest stop on the Shizuoka side. This website describes the path

This road is an oldest path for crossing the Utsunoya Pass, which is mentioned in “The Tale of Ise.”
It served as an important road until the old Tokaido was opened in 1590.
Many travelers walked along this path while it was used as an official road since the Heian period.

It is a tough trek though, and I walked past the entrance a few times towards the end of my hike, because I couldn’t actually believe it was the path. This blog post describes it as “incredibly steep.” “Hosoi” means narrow. A post that I can’t find at present says that it would take 25 minutes to climb and 15 minutes to descend. I’m actually terribly at climbing down mountains, and there were a lot of slippery looking rocks at the mouth of the path on the Okabe side, so reversing the route I’m suggesting above could be a good idea too (climb the really steep stuff, descend the more gentle – if there is a gentle descent. I suspect not).

Anyway, I’d pop over to Utsunoya village, do the section of the Tokaido trail which is there, and will also get your heart rate going if you don’t hike much, and even if you do, but it’s not too difficult. Double back, walk through the Meiji Tunnel, take the path that indicates the way to a museum.

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map_overview_rest stop

This will exit at Tsuta-no-hosoimichi park. Turn left.

Once in the park, make sure you cross the bridges and enjoy the river and various structures controlling its flow (see below). The paths over the river lead back to the main trail, so you can enjoy this diversion. There is information around the park about the engineering, and also included slightly in blog post. From there I would continue, looking for the maps and signs for Tsuta no hosomichi and turn here (picture below). This is not my photo. I should have taken it. It’s from a guy who walked the Old Tokaido Rd on a wing and a prayer. The link to his blog is in the caption below the photo.

The entrance is across a small stream and begins with those rocks, or I guess it’s the river. I thought I had enough time to get back to the Utsunoya road stop, Suruga Ku side, but I wasn’t sure. It was about 4:30. The sun sets at 5:30, and though from the map it seemed I should be fine, it was wet, and getting darker, so I decided not to risk it. I was’t sure how long it would take. Photographs on the Internet indicate that I should have taken it though! If you google つたのほそみち入り口 you’ll get some hits. Definitely on my list.

The descent should take you to just behind the Utsunoya rest stop, Suruga side, the point that you started from. If you can get a hiking map from somewhere, there really are a lot of walks in the area, and they seem to loop up. If you can’t, give your self a good few hours (get there earlier, rather than later) and check out the many detailed maps as you go through. Some are bilingual, but not all are.

Bee Hives Utsunoya

Coming into Tsuta no Hosoimichi Park, I walked behind this house. It’s shed is full of bee hives (unused, I guess?? Or waiting to be used.)

Honey for sale Utsunoya

They were selling honey (hachimitsu はちみつ)

Suspension bridge Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park 01

These bridges were fun to cross, and with the gentle (or not so gentle) rain and mist, truly evocative.

Suspension bridge Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park

Another one.

Warrior Helmet Dam (Kiwada River Sabo Dam)

Damming this river was apparently an engineering feat. Actually, the building of all of the tunnels, and “harnessing” of nature, or complementing of nature (?) was. This dam is indicative of a larger dam further up the river (I think! It might be this one) called the Warrior Helmet Dam colloquially. It’s offical name is the Kiwada River Sabo Dam.

Bridge -Suspension bridge Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park

Bridge

Water wheel and other buildings Suspension bridge Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park

I don’t know if these smaller buildings operated as tea houses and so on when the weather was better and it was tourist season.

Buildings Suspension bridge Tsuta-no-hosoi mich park

Buildings, bridges, on the other side of the river.

Making of the dam

Information about the engineering was scattered around the park.

Map of the area Tsuta no hosoi michi park

Map of Tsuta no Hosoimichi Trail. I would have liked to have been armed with some of this information.

Explanation Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park 1

Information about Tsuta no Hosoimichi Park and Path. Click to enlarge.

Explanation Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park 2

Information about Tsuta no Hosoimichi Park and Path. Click to enlarge.

Explanation Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park 3

Information about Tsuta no Hosoimichi Park and Path. Apparently the path had been used officially since the Heian period, and was used prior to the opening of the Tokaido Rd. The Tokaido Rd. opened in 1590,as quoted above.

Looking back at the other side of the river Tsuta-no-hosoi michi park

There’s that little building, below, which I had passed directly on the other side of the river. I’m returning to the bus stop (or hoping to find it) now, after deciding I didn’t want to risk being stuck on a steep narrow path in the middle of the mountain ranges as the night fell.

Older house on the way to the Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop

This older house was on the way to the Utsunoya road stop on the Okabe side (there are two).

Sign Tsuta no Hosoimichi Park

If you’re driving, this is the sign to look out for.

Clouds Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop 1

I think I made the right decision. It was getting close to 5:00, and the clouds and mist were billowing in.

Clouds Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop 2

Clouds, rain, traffic. I’m heading toward Fujieda here.

Clouds Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop

Walking along on the wrong side of the road (for the bus), trying to figure out just how I was going to get home.

clouds Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop

I crossed over a pedestrian walk way, a fair way down, when I saw a bus stop, and it was the right move. On this side, I could have caught a bus to Fujieda, and taken a train back. But it was preferable to get back to Shizuoka by bus from here. The rest stop can be seen in the distance on the right.

Detailed map Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop 1

This was the map I really wanted! Lots of great detail in both languages. Click to enlarge. Exciting figuring things out with the resources at hand, though.

Detailed map Okabe side of Utsunoya rest stop

Information. Times. Click to enlarge.

Tsuta no Hosoi Michi explanation 1

Information. Yup, where I thought, You couldn’t possibly turn there, was exactly where you turned. Photos of the start of the Tsuta no Hosoimichi trail.

Tsuta no Hosoi Michi explanation 2

Information.

Clouds billowing in Utsunoya rest stop Okabe side 1

I found my bus stop. Actually, I walked to the next one, as I had about 20 minutes to wait, but stopped shy of walking through the working tunnel. Masses of cars, the tunnel is quite long, and I’m not sure if pedestrians were allowed.

Clouds billowing in Utsunoya rest stop Okabe side 2

Snake clouds. Trucks resting.

Clouds billowing in Utsunoya rest stop Okabe side 3

Mist and clouds.

Waiting for the bus Clouds billowing in Utsunoya rest stop Okabe side

The bus stop. Sakashita.

Arrival Clouds billowing in Utsunoya rest stop Okabe side

My bus! I was happy to see it. Lights always look pretty shining in the rain.

Aoi beer Golden Ale

A good day hiking was rewarded with a glass of Golden Ale once I returned to Shizuoka. Aoi is a local brewery and this little bar on one of the main streets has only about seven seats. Two were empty when I arrived. It was still early. Lots of individuals (well, 3 out of 5) were women enjoying a beer. Two, myself and the lady to my left, were solo.

Aoi Beer A taste of Green tea

According to my phone, I’d walked 65 flights of stairs. I hadn’t of course, but I’d gone up and down a fair number of gradients. This beer had traces of green tea flavour. I was having a chat to the master and another guy to my right by this time. I might have been onto my third bevvie. A mistake. Still, conversation wasn’t too bad, though my Japanese is pretty rusty nowadays.

Soba-cha

After leaving Aoi beer stand, I enjoyed a cup of soba-cha (buckwheat tea) at a soba restaurant at the station.

Oysters

I finally got my soba at the station. Not very romantic, I know, but very tasty. This was a small side dish of oysters. I ordered far too much.

Kani-soba

This soba contained shreds of crabmeat, and I can’t remember what the other flavours were. Delicious.

extras

It was a set, so tempura and rice too. Far too much, but I ate it all. 16 kilometres all up. Not bad for a half day trip with plenty of sightseeing and stops for photographs.

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– encounters 13, 12 to follow

February 14, 2016
not 55 encounters, or even 20. Station 20, Chojiya, Mariko, Shizuoka Prefecture.

not 12 encounters, but encounter 12, capiche? Look, this blog is not awash with brilliance, as you’ve already ascertained, garnered and gleaned. But it stands to keep memory. There are huge breaks, and in the future there probably will be again. 2013 had a total of about 8 posts.

However, I know I do things, and then I forget that I’ve done them. Maybe that’s okay, the natural order of things. But, sometimes when there’s a six month break, three months,  a fortnight  – looking over what was important at the time, or looking at what I decided to report  does help contribute towards some understanding of the whole, some reflection on the past, some idea of how things (I) change and move on.

Like the Old Tokaido Road.

Now, lots of people walk the Old Tokaido Trail for many reasons. One is that many want to visit the 53 stations as those painted by Hiroshige. One of his prints opens this post. Some just dig the history, and for some, there’s a beauty in getting from point A to B.

Not my photo. Click the link above to go to the source.

I like the latter, but I don’t like to be getting from point A to B along too many heavy highways. Nature, thanks. The Tokaido road connected old Tokyo (Edo) with Kyoto, so as we update, the road most travelled gets converted into highways and byways, and let’s just say that following it, or nearby it, is not always the most pleasant experience in the world.

You can get mighty lost trying to follow it too. Something like the Bibbulmun Track through the south-west of Western Australia is quite beautiful.  But then, unlike the Tokaido, it wasn’t a major trade route as it was established as a walking trail in the 1970s.

Even so, there are plenty of things to see along the way, and if you like side trips, plenty of things to do. Today’s adventure was to visit Mariko and Utsunoya – one a station of the Tokaido Road, apparently, and the other having some of the original Tokaido Road in place, and a Meiji era tunnel (more about that later). I am in no way an expert. I just saw a picture of a tunnel and thought that I wanted to go through it!

Tororo Soup

After you disembark at the Mariko-bashi Iriguchi bus stop, you will soon see this sign for tororo soup (grated yam) at Chojiya (I think!) – or nearby, at least.

See more about Chojiya below

Kiwi fruit stand

In the Shizuoka area, these usually sport a lot of mikan or ponkan (forms of citrus). There were all manner of fruit and vegetables in the Mariko area.

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Near Chojiya.

Mariko-juku

Near Chojiya.

Things are not as clearly marked as you might expect. That is, do a bit more research before you head out if you want to get a full return for your day. As said, you get off the bus at Mariko-bashi Iriguchi from Shizuoka Station. It’s a fairly quick walk to the famous Chojiya.

I should have entered, but I’m not a huge fan of grated yam. The restaurant is famous for its grated yam soup (tororo), and has been serving it since 1596. This building was featured in Hiroshige’s prints (or earlier versions of it), and apparently the restaurant has been in the family for 14 generations. You can see a copy of the print way above.

chojiya

Chojiya – thatched roof.

I chose the fork of the road that was not the wisest. I had a map, but not the best kanji skills. The roads that surround these places are noisy and full of traffic, but off these roads are temples and historical sites. I didn’t take them. I struck out on the Tokaido, heading up to Utsunoya.

wood
I love the smell of pine being cut, sawed and shaped, though I know it is the loss of a tree, and the addition maybe of a house, or some other kind of structure for someone.

path to somewhere

As hinted at above, most of the historical sites, temples and so on, detailed on the map, seemed to be on the other side of the road. I’d taken a road running parallel with  the main road, and took a little diversion that would have taken me who-knows-where as the road was zig-zagged and rose steeply. The sign above was at its entrance. It was peaceful though, and that’s where the tea shots are from.

tea machine

I think these contraptions with cables were or are used to transport the tea once it has been harvested. Pulleys run up the hillsides from them.

tea_01

If I am right, you can see why. The tea often grows on really steep inclines.

tea_02

fruit stand
I don’t really think that these folk grew all of these items (especially not the bananas), but maybe they operated as a kind of neighbourhood deli.

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I did pass this Chonenji Temple, though.

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Chonenji_Temple

All of these guys would be boasatsu (bodhisattva) – or maybe gods, but this one looks pretty evil. I really appreciate their individual foibles all the more now after having viewed Takashi Murakami’s 500 arhats, as outlined in another post.

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In this post (a really interesting read!) – not written by me! but by the Temple Guy, he talks about how

. . .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.

I did write about that on lizardrinking years ago. If you ever go to Osorezan in Aomori ken you’ll see a lot of the mizuko jizo and kanon. They are a common sight in Japan. Osorezan is quite spooky (it literally represents hell). This temple’s gardens were very peaceful.

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Mizuiko Kanon chonenji

The Temple Guy states that the next picture is

Benten-sama, the only woman of Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods, and the patroness of music (hence the biwa, a traditional stringed instrument)

He notes she is naked, which she is. Very peaceful.

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Benten-sama over bridge

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Benten-sama

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Benten-sama

Chonen-ji Haka gate

I walked around to the temple, and was struck by the gothic feel of this gate leading into the cemetery (haka).
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At the top of the hill, overlooking the gravestones, was a large statue of Kanon, the Goddess of Mercy. She’s sometimes a man, sometimes androgynous.

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Kanon

Kanon_Chonenji

Kanon

Coming down from here, I cut through the garden once more, crossed over the bridge that would represent passing from one world to another, and came across this table again. When I first saw it I thought there was a marble egg in the middle. But on closer inspection, I saw it was an

owl

owl. You can’t really see that. I’ll crop the picture if I get the time. Or click on it to see it in a larger size.

I struck out once more along the Tokaido, or close to the Tokaido, or where the Tokaido once might have been.

Kanon from a distance

All three deities.

Chonenji

Goodbye to this boasatsu with a dragon.

Chonenji

And to this one with a sheep.

plum tree

Plum blossoms

Kanon from a distance

Kanon from a distance.

Golden Kanon

A golden Kanon seemingly very near the top of a pedestrian overpass.

Kilometres to ?

Another blog I was reading about the Tokaido road – the guy was heading towards Tokyo – stated that these signs were the distance to Tokyo. In this case it would be to Kyoto, but it seems a bit close. Maybe to Nagoya? Highway 1 – the Tokaido Road – the first highway.

Tokaido sign?

There were many of these kinds of signs about. It’s quite a historic area. Maybe they were detailing the road or some other reference point.

Just around the corner from here I came across the first Utsunoya rest stop – modern day – with lots of maps and signs. There is more than one Utsunoya rest stop! Just beware if you are trying to complete a loop walk.

I probably would have preferred to have spent more time exploring here, than on the walk up to here. However, I’ll study in more detail the small side journeys that can be made from Mariko to enhance the journey the next time I come to the area.

The next post details a tunnel, trees, leaves, rain, earth soft underfoot, birds calling, walking some distance, then losing my nerve, and the delight of unexpected beauty. That is, the Utsunoya part of this encounter 🙂