Akasaka

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Station #36:  In the evenings the inns rocked with songs and drunken laughter, and in some towns gambling was frenzied.  The Director of the Dutch trading mission, Englebert Kaempfer, traveled the Tokaido in 1691 to present gifts to the Shogun.  He found the inns lively and wrote in his dairy: "they set after meals drinking and singing some songs to make one another merry, or else they propose some riddles round, or play at some other game, and he that cannot explain the riddle or loses the game, is oblig'd to drink a glass."  To the left we see a blind masseur about to minister to a traveler's sore muscles.  To the right, the inn's waitresses are putting on make-up before entertaining the guests.  Gilbert and Sullivan used Kaempfer's book when they created "The Mikado."\n\nImage Copyright: Minneapolis Institute of Art Akasaka has one of the best preserved avenues of pine trees.  The trees lined the roads between the stations, providing welcome shade during the hot summers along the humid coast.  Compared to the Hakone pines, these trees are smaller giving a more open feel along the road. The inn featured in Hiroshige's print no longer exists.  None of the 20 or more inns survive.  In fact, only a few rooms of an inn are preserved at a building that was converted to a restaurant.  This room is on the second floor and it looks as if a traveler just stepped away for a few mintues.  To the right is a traditional lamp with a paper shade. The wooden box is a hibachi.  It was lined with metal and had a base of sand with a small fire.  It would provide a bit of warmth on a cold winter day. The brass tipped chopsticks allowed a user to pick up a hot piece of charcoal to light their pipe.