For centuries weary travelers on their journey along the ancient Tokaido Road connecting Tokyo with Kyoto have stopped in Shizuoka.
Today that tradition continues, but rather than just stopping along the way visitors are starting to Explore Shizuoka.
If you Explore Shizuoka you will find a land of mountains, valleys, rugged coastline, long stretches of beach, lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
It is the home of Mt Fuji, famous Samurai and is famous for seafood, wasabi and green tea.
In the late 16th century near the beginning of the Edo period, the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu established Edo (now known as Tokyo) as Japan’s new capital.
However, the Emperor of Japan remained in Kyoto.
The Shogun decreed that Lords from all of the local fiefdoms must spend alternative years staying in the new capital city.
Because of this the Tokaido Highway (literally “East Ocean Road”) linking the Kyoto and Tokyo rose in prominence and became vital to connecting the two main centres of political and economic power.
Along this ancient highway the region now known as Shizuoka had 22 out of 53 post stations around which towns grew and became prosperous due to the increased volume of travelers on the Tokaido during the Edo Period.
Fast forward 350 years to 1964, and the establishment of the Tokaido Shinkansen.
The bullet train line was built at rapid speed and in time for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and signified for many the success of Japan’s post-war recovery.
Originally, the line was called the New Tokaido Line in English.
The bullet train lines follows very closely the route of the ancient Tokaido highway and carry more than 400,000 passengers a day on average.
In Japan, these travelling routes have been popular for centuries, used to facilitate the flow of people, goods, and information between major centres, and this tradition continues today.
Today, the Tokaido route is more than just a shinkansen line and space-age way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto, it is, arguably, the most important of all the travelling routes in Japan.
Literally meaning “Eastern Sea Route” The Tokaido route has a vast array of historical heritage to see and amazing activities to experience.
Intrepid explorers walk the Tokaido route, enjoying the traditional inns and a taste of ancient Japan, or stop off in cities like Shizuoka to experience performing arts festivals and explore the modern side of Japan.
choose a station
The Modern Tokaido Line is represented by the JR Tokaido Bullet train which still follows a very similar path to the Ancient Route.
It can get you from Tokyo to Kyoto in just over 3 hours and there are 6 stations stops in Shizuoka.
Like it was in the time of the Ancient Tokaido Road each of the 6 train stops along the Modern Tokaido thriving towns can be found – each with its own unique characteristics and something for everyone.
The Tokaido Highway (“East Coast Road”) follows Shizuoka Prefecture’s winding Pacific coastline and expertly juxtaposes the modern and ancient characteristics of Japan the country has come to be known for.
The ancient side was captured beautifully by 19th century ukiyoe artist Hiroshige, who painted a scene of each of the 53 nightly inn stops along the ancient Tokaido.
22 of these nightly inn stops (post stations) are located in Shizuoka.
Along the modern Tokaido route, the seaside hot-spring town of Atami entices visitors to the area, and lies only a 45 minute shinkansen bullet train ride from Tokyo.
Atami acts as gateway town to the beautiful Izu Peninsula, a popular getaway for Tokyo residents and international visitors alike.
Flanking the Izu peninsula, is Japan’s deepest harbor, Suruga Bay.
Travellers coming along the Tokaido route would follow the coastline and enjoy superb views of Mt Fuji from across the bay, and it is one of the most iconic images of Japan.
Today, people take cruises across the bay, which leave from near Shizuoka city and travel across the bay to the town of Toi in Izu peninsula.
In ancient Japan, horse travel was a luxury, so most travellers on the Tokaido were on foot.
The 53 post stations along the Tokaido cared for weary travelers along their journey and around the 22 post stations that were in Shizuoka businesses and communities grew and their economies thrived.
Travellers today no longer need to walk, but can still explore the history and activities around those same areas.
The Tokaido Shinkansen stops near a few of these post stations and by transferring onto local train lines can bring modern day travelers to some of the smaller post towns.
Enjoy various attractions and activities around the Tokaido in Shizuoka and see below how to reserve your Tokaido experience today.
Here are some other ways to Explore Shizuoka & the Tokaido Highway.
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