JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

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Image search results - "stage"
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Road marker. Established in 1642, Moriyama-juku was the sixty-seventh of the sixty-nine stations or shukuba post towns on the Nakasendo Road. It is the eighth Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Musa-juku in Omi-Hachiman).
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Toriimoto-juku is the sixty-third of the sixty-nine stations or shukuba post towns on the Nakasendo Road. It is the fourth Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Bamba-juku in Maibara), and one of ten Nakasendo stations in Shiga.
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Road marker. Go right for the Nakasendo Road. MAP
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Although the Honjin is long gone, there are a few reminders of its shukuba past. Near Ohmi Railways Toriimoto Station. Map
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Rear of road marker
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Ohmi Railways Toriimoto Station platform
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Marker for the Kabuto-ya inn
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Ohmi Railways Toriimoto Station building
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Old Nakasendo Road and Dobashi Bridge. Supposedly, this is the bridge from where Hiroshige drew his print of Moriyama-juku.
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Ohmi Railways Toriimoto Station building
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Dobashi Bridge
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Toriimoto Station building built in 1931 when the station opened and still in use.
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Tomon-in temple built by Buddhist Priest Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) to protect his Enryakuji temple on Mt. Hiei from demons from the east. 東門院
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Toriimoto-juku is the sixty-third of the sixty-nine stations or shukuba post towns on the Nakasendo Road. It is the fourth Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Bamba-juku in Maibara), and one of ten Nakasendo stations in Shiga.
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Kaeru frog to wish you a safe return. 東門院
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樹下神社
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Site of Honjin Lodge
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Ishibe-juku was the 51st stage/post or shukuba lodging town on the Tokaido Road where even Emperor Meiji once stayed (with an entourage of over 3,000). View from JR Ishibe Station. Ishibe in Konan city is rural, yet it has a few major industries operating.
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Kusatsu-juku was the fifty-second station on the Tokaido Road (following Ishibe-juku) and the sixty-eighth station (following Moriyama-juku) on the Nakasendo Road. During the Edo Period, Kusatsu was an important post town at the crossroads of both roads.The roof is shaped like a Honjin lodge, with a gate. 草津駅
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Nakasendo Road
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Stone for safe childbirth
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Tenmangu Shrine
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Police station
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Tenmangu Shrine
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Plaque
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Road marker
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Road marker: Go left for the Nakasendo Road or right for the Hikone Road.
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JR Ishibe Station, Kusatsu Line
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JR Kusatsu Station
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Site of Musa-juku's Honjin, the town's exclusive lodging for VIPs to stopover or rest. Only the gate remains.
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Yakuimon Gate at the Arikawa machiya home. Emperor Meiji rested at the Arikawa home. A family still lives in this home. 有川家住宅 薬医門
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Main building of the Arikawa home, Toriimoto's most distinguished-looking building. This main building was built in 1759. The Arikawa family were a drug manufacturer. The home was designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2012.
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JR Ishibe Station
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Kusatsu town map. Kusatsu basically developed along the old Nakasendo and Tokaido Roads as they intersected before going on to Kyoto, Shiga's neighboring prefecture.
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Musa's Honjin
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In front of JR Ishibe Station. There are many bicycle garages for out-of-town students who commute from the station to their high school in Ishibe.
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Kusatsu River
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Honjin sign
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Gate in front of Ishibe Station
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Oiwake Guidepost road marker at the intersection of the Tokaido and Nakasendo Roads. The left side says "Left for Nakasendo Road" and the right side says "Right for Tokaido Road."
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Hatago inn called Nakamura-ya, this was the only remaining inn in Musa-juku. Unfortunately, this inn was destroyed by an early morning fire on Dec. 10, 2010. No one was hurt. The inn owners were sleeping on the 1st floor and they escaped.
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Road marker at the intersection of the Tokaido and Nakasendo RoadsThis tunnel goes under the Kusatsu River.
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Inn sign. The 200-year-old Nakamura-ya inn burned down on Dec. 10, 2010.
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Hiroshige's woodblock print of Ishibe-juku (51st post town on the Tokaido) from his "Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road" series. A tea house is depicted.
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Dengaku Chaya tea house reconstructed in 2003 based on Hiroshige's ukiyoe print of Ishibe. A rest place for tourists. Walkable from Ishibe Station. 田楽茶屋The original tea house as seen in Hiroshige's print was located some distance away (nearer to Ritto) from the location of this reconstructed tea house.
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Road marker plaque
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Musa-juku 武佐宿
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Inside reconstructed tea house
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Kusatsu historyBeing a stage town along the Tokaido Road connecting Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto, Kusatsu had over 70 inns for travelers. The best inn was the Honjin, reserved for daimyo warlords, Imperial family members, etc.
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Site of Kojima Honjin and Emperor Meiji marker. The Kojima Honjin was Ishibe-juku's best accommodation suited for feudal lords and emperors.
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Kusatsu-juku Honjin on the Tokaido Road. MAP
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Ishibe was usually the first overnight stop for travelers going from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo). The Honjin is no longer in existence, and only a normal house sits on the site.
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Kusatsu-juku Honjin. the Honjin was the town's most luxurious accommodation catering to society's elite like daimyo warlords, Imperial family members including the emperor, and other dignitaries. National Historic SiteAt stage towns along the major roads like the Nakasendo and Tokaido, the Honjin was the town's most luxurious accommodation catering to society's elite like daimyo warlords, Imperial family members including the emperor, and other dignitaries. It operated during 1635 to 1870. The Honjin is now a museum.

This Honjin in Kusatsu is a very impressive example of traditional architecture. It is designated as a National Historical Place. It underwent a complete renovation and reconstruction during 1989 to 1995. (In case you wonder why such an old building looks so new.) Admission 200 yen. 10-min. walk from Kusatsu Station.
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Woodblock print of Ishibe-juku
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Kusatsu-juku Honjin entrance. This Honjin in Kusatsu is a very impressive example of traditional architecture. It is designated as a National Historical Place. It underwent a complete renovation and reconstruction during 1989 to 1995. Admission 200 yen.
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Entrance to Ameyama Cultural Sports Park, a low hill with various sports and cultural facilities and hiking trails.
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Genkan Hiroma entrance hall straight ahead. It was the entrance for daimyo feudal lords. 玄関広間
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About the Kusatsu-juku Honjin
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Entrance to Shukuba no Sato, outdoor museum of stage town buildings 宿場の里 MAP
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Sekifuda name plates in Genkan Hiroma entrance hall. This is what you see when you enter the Honjin through the Genkan Hiroma entrance hall. The name plate for the warlord staying at the lodge was displayed. 玄関広間This is what you see when you enter the Honjin through the Genkan Hiroma entrance hall. The name plate for the warlord staying at the lodge was displayed here.
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About Shukuba no Sato. Interesting outdoor museum of Edo-Period buildings accurately reconstructed as was found in Ishibe-juku. You can find a farmer's house, merchant's house, inn, tea house, and warehouse. The inside is also quite authentic.
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Kusatsu-juku Honjin corridor. Pass by numerous Japanese-style rooms. 畳廊下畳廊下
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Gate 関所
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Kusatsu-juku Honjin guest book. See the names of Kira and Lord Asano both of whom once lodged at this Honjin (at different times). These two men later became adversaries which led to the legendary chushingura or vendetta of the 47 masterless samurai. 大You can see the names of Kira and Lord Asano both of whom once lodged at this Honjin (at different times). These two men later became adversaries which led to the legendary chushingura or vendetta of the 47 masterless samurai.

大福帳
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Traditional farmer's house 農家
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Jodan no Ma: Kusatsu-juku Honjin's best room in the house. Reserved for daimyo warlords, emperors, etc. 上段の間

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Traditional farmer's house
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Jodan no Ma - Kusatsu-juku Honjin's best room in the house. Reserved for daimyo warlords, emperors, etc. 上段の間
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Traditional farmer's house
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Jodan no Ma - Kusatsu-juku Honjin. The Gyokuza raised tatami mats was where the lord or Emperor slept or sat. 上段の間Reserved for daimyo warlords, emperors, etc.
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Traditional farmer's house
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Jodan no Ma - Kusatsu-juku Honjin's best room in the houseReserved for daimyo warlords, emperors, etc. The room had an elevated tatami mat for the person to sit and sleep on.

上段の間
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Old farming implements (for irrigation)
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Mukae Jodan no Ma 向上段の間向上段の間
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Farmer's house
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Mukae Jodan no Ma. Painting on the fusuma sliding doors by Matsumura Keibun. 向上段の間
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Merchant's house 商家
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Urinal (made of lacquered wood) for warlords. The room has two tatami mats. Right below the urinal is a bamboo mat. Above is a small shoji paper window to provide light.
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Merchant's house
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Toilet (made of lacquered wood) for warlords. This is a separate room adjacent to the urinal. It also has two tatami mats. The walls are plain and not decorated. The toilet had a box which was likely replaced each time it was used. 上段雪隠This is a separate room adjacent to the urinal. It also has two tatami mats. The walls are plain and not decorated. The toilet had a box which was likely replaced each time it was used.

Jodan settin

上段雪隠
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Inn (hatago) 旅籠
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Marker for Emperor Meiji's visit and outdoor garden
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Guest name plates in the inn
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Outdoor garden
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Inn
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Inn kitchen
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Yudono bath room for warlords. The hot water was heated nearby and carried to this room. 湯殿

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Bath for feudal lordsLooks kind of small to me.

湯殿
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Rice warehouse
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Kitchen (Daidokoro doma). Dirt-floored room with wood-heated stoves. High ceiling with no chimney, but the ceiling has a covered opening. 台所土間
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Rice warehouse
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Honjin owner Tanaka's house
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Tea house
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Honjin owner Tanaka's house
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Tea house
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Honjin owner's house
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Ceiling
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Old fire truck
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Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan is a history museum with various exhibits showing Kusatsu's post town history. Admission 200 yen. You can buy a set ticket good for both the Honjin and this history museum. 草津街道交流館
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Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan. Terminals are provided to find information about Kusatsu. 草津街道交流館 MAP
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Tokaido History Museum is adjacent to Shukuba no Sato. It explains the 53 stage towns of the Tokaido Road between Edo and Kyoto. 東海道歴史資料館
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Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan 草津街道交流館
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Tokaido History Museum includes an accurate model of Ishibe-juku's palatial Kojima Honjin.
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Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan. Sample food from the old days, dinner on left and breakfast on right. 草津街道交流館
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Ishibe Town logo
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Photo op room at Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan. You can dress up as a traveler on the Tokaido/Nakasendo Road and take a picture of yourself. You can even sit in the palanquin. A tripod is provided too. 草津街道交流館
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Church house
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Palanquin at Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan 草津街道交流館For photos.
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Church house
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Ukiyoe prints of Kusatsu-juku at Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan 草津街道交流館
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Ishibe High School. Rare to see a Japanese high school whose name is shown in English.
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Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan草津街道交流館
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Model of the town at the Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryu-kan 草津街道交流館
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Waki Honjin souvenir shop and restaurant脇本陣
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Temple with road marker
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Closeup of road marker indicating the Tokaido Road to the right and Nakasendo to the left.
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Bamba-juku (Banba-juku) does not have any train stations within walking distance. The closest is Maibara and Samegai Stations. Buses and taxi available. From Samegai, go on Route 21 until you reach this intersection (3 km from Bamba) where you turn left.
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You will soon see this Hokuriku Highway overpass. Go under it.
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Then you'll see a fork in the road. Take the smaller right road which is the former Nakasendo Road.
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The island in the middle has a Bamba-juku monument.
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Bamba-juku monument marking the location of the Kure Ichirizuka milestone. 久禮の一里塚 MAP
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Old Nakasendo Road to Bamba-juku, the sixty-second station or post town (shukuba) of the sixty-nine stations on the Nakasendo Road.
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Bamba-juku is the third Nakasendo station in Shiga, following Samegai-juku which is also in Maibara.
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Finally a small sign on the left declaring "Nakasendo Bamba-no-juku."
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Marker for site of a Toiya-ba which was a travel logistics office where you can get pack horses, forward your baggage, and find a place to stay in Bamba. 問屋場
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Bamba today is a quiet, rural settlement. It is divided into east Bamba and west Bamba.
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Another welcome sign in Bamba-juku.
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Welcome sign in Nakasendo Bamba-juku. (The orange object is a mailbox.)
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Site of another Toiya-ba.
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Intersection with a Bamba-juku stone monument. A good place to rest and eat your box lunch.
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Bamba-juku stone monument.
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Next to the Bamba-juku stone monument is an old map of Bamba-juku.
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Stone marker with a finger pointing the way to Maibara Port where you can board a boat to go to Otsu via Lake Biwa. This is at the same intersection across from the Bamba-juku stone monument.
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Site of the Waki-Honjin on the right. Now a modern house. The Waki Honjin was the town's second-best lodge. 脇本陣跡
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Close-up of stone marker for the Waki-Honjin. There are no original buildings left in Bamba-juku related to the post town, except for Rengeji temple.
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Site of the Honjin, the town's most exclusive inn for daimyo lords and other VIPs. This is not the original building. Just a private house. Near the Waki Honjin. 本陣跡
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Going further down the road in Bamba.
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Place where Emperor Meiji took a break. It was the site of another Toiya-ba.
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Marker indicating that Emperor Meiji took a break here once.
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On the left of the road is the path to Rengeji temple.
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Path to Rengeji temple.
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Smack dab in front of Rengeji temple is this monstrosity that is the Meishin Expressway.
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Right after passing under the Meishin Expressway, you see Rengeji's Sanmon Gate. 蓮華寺 山門
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Rengeji is famous as the place where Hojo Nakatoki 北条仲時 and over 430 of his men committed suicide after being defeated by Ashikaga Takauji's forces during the fall of the Kamakura shogunate in 1333. This is a monument for this tragic event.
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On the left of the Sanmon Gate is the "River of Blood." When Hojo Nakatoki and 430 of his men slit themselves on May 9, 1333, the blood became a river flowing here. It was during the Genko War when the Emperor Go-Daigo fought the Kamakura shogun
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"River of Blood" sign. In charge of national security, Hojo Nakatoki was the last Rokuhara Tandai Kitakata chief from the Hojo clan in the Kamakura shogunate. When tourists see this sign, they become scared to enter the temple.
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Rest assured, it's very peaceful in the temple. Rengeji's Sanmon Gate (right) and bell tower on left.
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Wooden insignia on Sanmon Gate with the Imperial crest on the left. The temple was originally founded by Prince Shotoku Taishi about 1,300 years ago. He named it Horyuji 法隆寺. After being struck by lightning, it was rebuilt in 1284.
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Rengeji temple belongs to the Jodo-shu Buddhist sect. The founding priest was Saint Ikko. With support from the lord of Kamaha Castle near Bamba, he was able to rebuild the temple and renamed it Rengeji. 一向上人
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Rengeji Hondo Hall, Banba-juku, Maibara, Shiga. Quite a few emperors favored this temple. The 95th Emperor Hanazono (1297-1348) gave the temple an Imperial sanction to receive Imperial prayers. Hence, the temple's Imperial crest. 蓮華寺
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Until 1943, the temple was a dojo for the Jishu Ikko sect. It then converted to Jodo-shu. Admission is charged, I think 300 yen. There's a unmanned collection box near the entrance.
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Red plum blossoms in front of Rengeji Hondo Hall, in early April.
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Inside Rengeji Hondo Hall, left altar.
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Inside Rengeji Hondo Hall, main altar at the center. There are two figures: Amida Nyorai and Shaka Nyorai. Jodo-shu Buddhist sect. 蓮華寺 本堂
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Inside Rengeji Hondo Hall, main altar at the center. 蓮華寺 本堂
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Inside Rengeji Hondo Hall, right altar.
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Rengeji Hondo Hall's framed nameplate. The temple's name was written by Emperor Go-Mizunoo (1596–1680).
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This is the area where Hojo Nakatoki and his men committed seppuku.
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Bell tower. Cast during the time of Saint Ikko, the bell is an Important Cultural Property.
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Inside is a Jizo-son statue worshipped for transportation safety.
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Memorial for victims of the Pacific War.
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Monument for a poem by Saito Mokichi (1882-1953). 斉藤茂吉の歌碑 「松風の音を聞くときは 古への 聖の如く 我は寂しむ」
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Grave of the lord of Kamaha Castle who helped to rebuild the Rengeji temple.
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Way to the graves of Hojo Nakatoki and his men who committed suicide.
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A few steps up a slope.
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Memorial for Hojo Nakatoki and his men. They had lost to Ashikaga Takauji in the battle at Kyoto and were trying to escape to Kamakura, but was caught by Takauji's forces at Bamba.
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Over 430 gravestones. Hojo Nakatoki and his men were besieged in Bamba by Southern Imperial Court forces. They fought back, but lost and slit their bellies in front of Rengeji's Hondo main hall.
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The temple's third priest wrote the names and age (youngest was 14) of the known fallen warriors in a scroll. He also made these gravestones for them. Visuallly, it's very impressive edifice.
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Graves of Hojo Nakatoki and his men from the Rokuhara Tandai. 北条仲時一行の墓
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The gravestones have five levels. In fall, the surrounding maple leaves turn blood red.
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There are more steps which lead to graves of temple priests and Saint Ikko's mausoleum.
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Graves of previous temple priests.
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Mausoleum of Saint Ikko Shunsho.
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Small mausoleum for Saint Ikko. 一向上人の御廟
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Side of the Hondo
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Behind the Hondo hall is a small hill with the Bamba Chutaro Jizo-son statue.
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Bamba Chutaro Jizo-son statue, based on a character in the novel "Mabuta-no-Haha" 瞼の母 by Hasegawa Shin (1884-1963) 長谷川伸. 番場忠太郎
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View behind the Hondo.
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Also behind the Hondo is this Ikko-sugi tree, 700 years old. Named after the temple's founding priest Saint Ikko, it was planted where Ikko was cremated. Over 30 meters high and 5 meters wide. 一向杉
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Temple garden. Best during spring when the flowers bloom.
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View from Hondo hall.
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From Rengeji temple, a short distance away on the Nakasendo Road is this path to Naotaka Shrine.
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Naotaka Shrine, dedicated to Lord Ii Naotaka, the third lord of Hikone Castle. 直孝神社
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Naotaka Shrine torii
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There's no explanation about the shrine.
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Naotaka Shrine
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The shrine has no human staff, but a security camera operates.
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Naotaka Shrine Honden Hall
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Turn left to hike to Kamaha Castle ruins. 鎌刃城
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Map of Kamaha Castle. 鎌刃城
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Path to Kamaha Castle, a mountaintop castle in the distance. Only stone walls remain. 鎌刃城
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Kitano Shrine
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Bamba-juku monument
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A stone found in a river bank. Since it has a hole, it is thought to be a foundation stone for a building's pillar.
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Echigawa-juku was the sixty-sixth station or post town (shukuba) of the sixty-nine stations on the Nakasendo Road. It is the sixth Nakasendo station in Shiga (following Takamiya-juku in Hikone), and one of ten Nakasendo stations in Shiga.In front of Echigawa Station, a sign point the way to Echigawa-juku (go right).
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Entrance to Echigawa-juku at the northern end. Echigawa-juku was the sixty-sixth station or post town (shukuba) of the sixty-nine stations on the Nakasendo Road. Map
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This is a high-class ryotei restaurant called Omi Shonin-tei (近江商人亭). Built in the 1920s, it used to be an Omi Merchant's second home who sold hemp cloth.This is also one location where the film Idai Naru, Shurararabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) was filmed. The Natsume family's dojo scene.
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Nakasendo in Echigawa-juku
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Large intersection has an Echigawa-juku monument.
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The street corner has a pocket park for an Echigawa-juku monument showing an ukiyoe print of the town. A stone marker also points the way to Takamiya-juku.
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The ukiyoe print by Hiroshige shows a bridge across Echigawa River. It was toll-free (Muchin-bashi).
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Meiji Period-style mail box. It's a real mail box so you can deposit your mail here.
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Pocket park in Echigawa-juku.
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Heading south on the Nakasendo in Echigawa-juku.
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Traditional-style building
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Marker indicating that St. Shinran, founder of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Sect, once stayed at this temple.
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Way to Homanji temple where St. Shinran once stayed.
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Gate to Homanji temple.
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Homanji temple Hondo hall in Echigawa-juku, Shiga. 宝満寺
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Statue of St. Shinran (1173-1263) in front of the plum tree which he planted. The temple also has a scroll written by Shinran.
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While traveling, St. Shinran was unable to cross the Echigawa River since there was a flood. So he stayed at this temple temporarily. During that time, he planted a plum tree which bloom red plum blossoms.
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St. Shinran statue and plum tree.
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The plum tree blooms in March.
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Homanji Hondo
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Inside Homanji Hondo main hall in Echigawa-juku, Shiga Prefecture
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View from Hondo hall.
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Some modern buildings along the Nakasendo in Echigawa-juku
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Looks like a former bank building.
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Hachiman Jinja Shrine in Echigawa-juku, Shiga
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Way to Hachiman Shrine.
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Hachiman Jinja Shrine, Echigawa-juku
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The shrine has ties to Prince Shotoku Taishi who hid here from an enemy during a war. In appreciation, he donated rice paddies to the shrine.
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Hachiman Jinja Shrine Honden main hall is a Shiga Prefecture Cultural Property.
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Shops along the Nakasendo
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Manhole in Echigawa-juku, Shiga, with a temari (thread ball) design.
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Another famous building remaining in Echigawa-juku. This is the Takeheiro restaurant where Emperor Meiji once stayed.
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Entrance to Takeheiro. It's not open to the public unless you want to dine there. 竹平楼
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Stone monument at Takeheiro indicating that Emperor Meiji was here.
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