Follow the Tokaido Highway
Highlights of the Area
ARAI SEKISHO MUSEUM, HANDHELD FIREWORKS
The Old Tokaido Highway became firmly established in the early 17th century as the main thoroughfare for travelers between the new capital of Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto.
The 31st Post Town of Arai Sekisho was a significant Checkpoint / barrier station along the Tokaido Highway.
The original checkpoint building built in 1600 (relocated twice and reconstructed in 1858) is the only sekisho building left in Japan.
At both the Hakone and Arai Checkpoints travelers were required to show their travel documents which had stamps on them with permissions to travel with women (woman were not allowed to travel alone), firearms or prisoners.
The Arai Sekisho was known for its strict security to protect the Edo Government and feared by travelers without the correct documentation, or anyone trying to smuggle contraband or people out of, or into, Edo.
Those caught breaking the law at checkpoints were dealt with severely with punishments that included crucifixion as a means of setting an example and dissuading others from doing the same.
The Arai Sekisho had a wharf on the inland shore of Lake Hamana and was only accessible by boat from neighbouring Maisaka Post Station.
Due to the shear size of Lake Hamana, any travelers trying to avoid the Arai Sekisho faced a lengthy, and challenging, detour.
The Arai Sekisho is accessible from Araimachi Station which is 4 stops from Hamamatsu Bullet Train Station.
The actual checkpoint and museum is easily done in under 2 hours.
The following is an example of a 1 day itinerary starting and finishing at Hamamatsu JR Tokaido Bullet Train Station.
Finalise your itinerary, confirm everything is open and even leave excess luggage for the day.
If you are on the Tokaido trail take the local Tokaido Line train and first stop at Maisaka Station to check out the only remaining authentic ‘Waki-Honjin’ in Japan.
Waki Honjin were the modern day equivalent of 4-star accommodation used by the upper class travelers if the 5-star ‘Honjin’ accommodation were not available.
A visit to the Maisaka Waki Honjin will give you a better understanding of life on the Tokaido – more info.
If you are looking for something traditional and local there are a number of great restaurants near Araimachi Station.
If something a little more Western is prefered, or you are traveling with kids, take the train to Bentenjima, grab a burger & fries at American Diner style Leader and, if the weather permits, enjoy a picnic on the beach.
After lunch and maybe sometime on nearby Bentenjima Beach have a wander around the town of Arai.
Arai is a small town with a lot of character and friendly locals, it is well worth a couple of hours just wandering around – check out this walking tour map for ideas.
If you have time there are a number of other attractions in the area.
For die-hard Tokaido Highway fans it is possible to follow the Old Tokaido to Shirasuka – the last post station in Shizuoka – and visit the beach scene in the Hiroshige Ukiyo E Painting or visit the Onyado Shirasuka Museum.
For more information on other things to do in the area, including Japanese Boat Racing and traditional nighttime Spearfishing experiences check – 5 Ways to Enjoy Lake Hamana.
For a detailed map of Maisaka & Arai and Tokaido Related attractions in English check www.shizuoka-tokaido.biz
Here are some other ways you can experience the Tokaido in Shizuoka.
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The 13th-15th ‘Juku’ on the Old Tokaido Highway could best be described as the Mt Fuji Post Stations.
Follow the Old Tokaido Highway to Hamamatsu Juku – the 29th post station on the road from Tokyo to Kyoto.
Follow the Old Tokaido Highway to Fuchu Shuku – the 19th post station on the road from Tokyo to Kyoto.