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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Tokaido

東海道

The Tokaido (lit. "East Sea Road") is Japan's most famous highway and historically links the ancient capital of Kyoto with Edo (present-day Tokyo) along the Pacific coast via Nagoya. The Tokaido officially started in the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo and finished at Sanjo Bridge in Kyoto.



During the Edo Period (1603-1868) the Tokaido inspired the many artists and poets who walked along its route. These included the ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige (1797-1858) who painted the 53 post stations where travelers rested after their day's journey.

Guide books to the various places along the Tokaido were also popular during the period. Some of the original post stations retain fragments of their historical past including Arimatsu and Okazaki in Aichi Prefecture, Futagawa-juku in Toyohashi, a former inn, Horai Bridge in Shizuoka, the world's longest wooden bridge and Kuwana in Mie.

Castles were often built along the Tokaido to control the possible movement of hostile forces, such as Kakegawa Castle in Shizuoka.

The present-day Tokaido is largely followed by National Highway 1 and the name lives on in the Tokaido shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka.



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