Explore Shizuoka – Tokaido

The Tokaido Line is the ancient route linking Tokyo to Kyoto. For centuries Japanese used the Tokaido route to travel, trade and tour between the major centres. Today, the Tokaido Shinkansen is the modern evolution of the historical highway, and throughout Shizuoka, the route is alive with activities and attractions to explore.

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.

Because of this geographical split, the Tokaido route linking the two places rose in prominence and became vital to connecting the two main centres of political and economic power.

Fast forward 350 years to 1964, and the establishment of the Tokaido Shinkansen. The 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 and follows very closely the route of the ancient highway.

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.

Tokaido follows Shizuoka Prefecture’s winding Pacific coastline and expertly juxtaposes the modern and ancient sides 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, almost half, are 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 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 Izu peninsula.

In ancient Japan, horse travel was a luxury, so most travellers on the Tokaido were on foot. The 53 inns along the route cared for weary travellers before their journey continued. 22 of those inns are in Shizuoka, and over time communities built up around these inns. 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 inns and a transfer onto local lines can bring travellers even closer. No need to walk. Enjoy various attractions and activities around Tokaido in Shizuoka and see below how to reserve your Tokaido experience today.

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