|(East Sea Road)|
The Five Routes, the T?kaid? being the southernmost route
|Established by Tokugawa shogunate|
|Length||514 km (319 mi)|
|Most important road connecting Japan's two largest cities|
|The Five Routes|
|Restrictions||Permit required to travel beyond each check station|
|West end||Sanj? ?hashi in Kyoto, Japan|
|East end||Edobashi in Edo, Japan|
The T?kaid? road (), which roughly means "eastern sea route," was the most important of the Five Routes of the Edo period in Japan, connecting Kyoto to Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Unlike the inland and less heavily travelled Nakasend?, the T?kaid? travelled along the sea coast of eastern Honsh?, hence the route's name.
The standard method of travel was by foot, as wheeled carts were almost nonexistent and heavy cargo was usually sent by boat. Members of the higher class, however, travelled by kago. Women were forbidden to travel alone and had to be accompanied by men. Other restrictions were also put in place for travellers, but, while severe penalties existed for various travel regulations, most seem not to have been enforced.
Along the T?kaid?, there were government-sanctioned post stations for travellers in which to rest. These stations consisted of porter stations and horse stables, as well as lodging, food and other places a traveller may visit. The original T?kaid? was made up of 53 stations between the termination points of Edo and Kyoto. The 53 stations were taken from the 53 Buddhist saints that Buddhist acolyte Sudhana visited to receive teachings in his quest for enlightenment. The route passed through several provinces, each administered by a daimy?, the borders of whose regions were clearly delineated. Numerous checkpoints had been set up by the government where travellers had to present travelling permits to pass or be turned back.
There were almost no bridges over the larger, fast flowing rivers, forcing travelers to be ferried across by boat or be carried by watermen porters. Additionally, at one point in Nagoya the road was barred by several rivers and voyagers had to take a boat across the sea for 17 miles to reach Kuwana station. These water crossings were a potential source of delay: In ideal weather the entire T?kaid? journey on foot could be made in about a week, but if conditions were bad a trip might take up to a month to complete.
Travel, particularly along the T?kaid?, was a very popular topic in art and literature at the time. A great many guidebooks of famous places were published and distributed at this time, and a culture of virtual tourism through books and pictures thrived. Jippensha Ikku's T?kaid?ch? Hizakurige, translated as "The Shank's Mare", is one of the more famous novels about a journey along the T?kaid?.
The artist Hiroshige depicted each of the 53 Stations of the T?kaid? (shukuba) in his work The Fifty-three Stations of the T?kaid?, and the haiku poet Matsuo Bash? travelled along the road. The T?kaid? goj?san tsui (Fifty-Three Pairings along the T?kaid? Road), created in 1845, is one of the most well-known and fascinating examples of woodblock prints inspired by the road. Japan's three leading print designers of the nineteenth century - Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, and Kunisada - paired each T?kaid? rest station with an intriguing, cryptic design.
Due to the harsh and punitive Tenp?-era reforms which attempted to impose a strictly defined morality, prints of celebrity actors, courtesans, and entertainers were outlawed during this time. Crafted to outwit the artistic restrictions imposed by the reforms, the woodcuts in the Parallel Series became popular visual puzzles that were frequently reproduced. Because of the ingenious approach to the T?kaid? theme, the T?kaid? goj?san tsui has been praised as one of the most innovative and important works from the late Edo period. Its three designers followed their individual interests and strengths, and yet shared a common composition - dominant figures against distant landscapes. They used a variety of motifs, including stories from kabuki theater, poetry, famous tales, legends, landmarks, and local specialties.
In the early 1980s, inspired by Hiroshige, American artist Bill Zacha travelled the Tokaido stations. He created a series of 55 serigraphs, each depicting one stop along the Tokaido way, and printed 100 copies of each design. These were collected in the 1985 book Tokaido Journey, along with Bill's recollections (in both English and Japanese) of travelling the road and the people he encountered.
The British painter Nigel Caple travelled along the T?kaid? Road between 1998 and 2000, making drawings of the 53 stations along the T?kaid?. His inspiration was the Hoeido Edition of woodblock prints entitled The Fifty-three Stations of the T?kaid? by Utagawa Hiroshige. These drawings by Nigel Caple formed the basis for a series of paintings and culminated in a touring exhibition and lectures during 2001 and 2002. Locations included Hertfordshire University and The British Museum. The exhibition was part of the UK's Japan Festival 2001.
The video game T?kaid? Goj?san-tsugi, released by Sunsoft for the Famicom in July 1986 and later ported to other Nintendo platforms, features a firework maker protagonist who must travel the T?kaid? to visit his fiancee, while thwarting attacks from a rival businessman.
The 2012 board game T?kaid?, designed by Antoine Bauza, is set in the Edo period. Players can take on the roles of artists travelling the East Sea Road, assembling, among other things, panoramas of its views as they journey toward Edo.
In 1619, the ?saka Kaid? (?) was established as a spur of the T?kaid?; it had four stations of its own after ?tsu-juku. This addition extended the route to K?raibashi in Osaka. This spur was also called the Ky?kaid? (), or it was described as being a part of the 57 stations of the T?kaid?.
Today, the T?kaid? corridor is the most heavily travelled transportation corridor in Japan, connecting Greater Tokyo (including the capital Tokyo as well as Japan's second largest city Yokohama) to Nagoya (fourth largest), and then to Osaka (third largest) via Kyoto. The Tokyo-Nagoya-Kyoto-Osaka route is followed by the JR T?kaid? Main Line and T?kaid? Shinkansen, as well as the T?mei and Meishin expressways. A few portions of the original road can still be found, however, and in modern times at least one person has managed to follow and walk much of it.