Follow the Tokaido Highway
MT FUJI POST STATIONS
Highlights of the Area
MT FUJI ON THE LEFT, SENBONHAMA, FUJI RIVER, KAMBARA OLD TOWN
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 13th, 14th, and 15th Post Towns of Hara, Yoshiwara and Kambara are located on the Northern coastline of Suruga Bay and could be called the Mt Fuji Post Stations.
When traveling on the Tokaido Highway this 20 kilometer plus stretch has always been the best place to enjoy stunning views of Mt Fuji – the only difference being that 250 years ago travelers had many days to take in the view whereas todays travelers have less than 5 minutes as they whizz by on the Bullet train.
This stretch of the Old Tokaido Highway starts at the small coastal town of Hara in what is today part of Numazu City.
Hara was one of the smallest Post Station towns on the Old Tokaido Road with the majority of the travelers continuing on to the larger Numazu Juku.
The Hara Post Station is most notable today as part of the long stretch of the Suruga Coast that is covered in pine trees called Senbonhama.
After exploring the Hara Juku area around the station take the local train to Higashi-Tagonoura Station and visit Ukishimagahara Nature Park.
It is a very small marshland area surrounded by a built-up residential area but it is possibly one of the only places in the area that provides a glimpse of what it was like travelling on the Old Tokaido Highway at the foot of Mt Fuji.
For travelers walking from Tokyo to Kyoto after walking along the coast from Hara Juku, the Old Tokaido Highway turns inland toward the Yoshiwara Post Station.
There is a short stretch of the Highway where it faces the North North East and Mt Fuji became visible on the traveler’s left-hand side for a brief moment.
This small section of the Highway was immortalized by Hiroshige when he created one of his most famous woodblock prints depicting the Old Tokaido Road called “Hidari Fuji” which translates to Fuji on the Left.
To visit what remains of Yoshiwara Juku take a small detour from the Main Tokaido Train line at Yoshiwara Station and catch the Local Gakunan Train to Yoshiwara Honcho Station.
THE FUJI RIVER
After leaving Yoshiwara Juku travelers heading for Kyoto would have to contend with the Fuji River – the fastest flowing of all the rivers that had to be crossed along the way.
Although not a Post Station, the ‘Fujikawa Area’ is still a great place to visit for people interested in the history of the Old Tokaido Highway.
Today the area around Fujikawa is popular with photographers trying to get a shot of Mt Fuji with the bullet train crossing the Fujikawa Bridge.
The Fujikawa Service Area on the Tomei Expressway is a popular Expressway ‘Road Station’.
The last of the Old Tokaido Road Mt Fuji Post Stations is Kambara which set the scene for another of Hiroshige’s most famous pieces.
The scene Hiroshige chose to depict Kambara Juku is of 3 villagers making their way through deep snow on a cold winter’s night.
The picture is firstly unique as it is one of the only night scenes that Hiroshige created for his Tokaido series but also, it very rarely snows at all in the Kambara area.
The reasons why Hiroshige created this piece are still debated and shrouded in mystery to this day.
Today there are still a number of buildings from the Edo period remaining in Kambara and only Post Town that is recognized as a historic national road in Shizuoka – be sure to visit Izumiya Rest Stop while you are there.