Hakone

Click on any photo to see a larger version
Station #10:  The Hakone Pass was the most arduous stretch of the entire Tokaido Highway.  It was steep and difficult to climb, and harbored many roaming bandits.  It was also the location of the most feared checkpoint along the road.  The "sekisho" or checkpoints were at strategic places to ensure that firearms were not smuggled in and women (wives and daughters of daimyo were hostages to the shogun) were not smuggled out of Edo.  However, the pass abounded in scenic spots and hot springs resorts which were famous long before the 19th century.  A section of the original rock roadway is preserved.  Steve and I can attest to its difficulty.\n\nImage Copyright: Minneapolis Institute of Art Right before the checkpoint, the road levels out beside Lake Ahsino.  The magnificent cedar trees that lined the Tokaido are preserved here, still soaring high above those who walk in the footsteps of the Edo travelers. After years of research and excavation, the checkpoint was reconstructed to its original dimensions.  Visitors no longer dread entering the gates where Edo travelers were subjected to careful inspection of the required passports and searches of luggage and clothing.  Anyone caught sneaking around the barrier was immediately executed. From the lookout on the hill above the checkpoint, we can see the entire complex.  The daimyo at Odawara castle was responsible for the officers and inspectors. The guards in the tower were constantly on the lookout for bandits and travelers who tried to avoid the checkpoint. Inside the checkpoint, mannequins show the many duties of the guards.  However, Steve became fascinated with the area that showed the living quarters for the lowly foot soldiers.  Apparently they did their own cooking. They seemed to have a break room where they could smoke while not on duty. Is he reading government regulations?  There seemed to be edicts from the Tokugawa government for everything - from how to dress to what to eat.  But perhaps he's just reading one of the humorous novels popular in Edo times.