Hakone Checkpoint

Tokaido had checkpoints at various intervals to ensure that travellers were bonefide and to protect the Shogun in the capital, Edo. Hakone was the closest checkpoint to Edo, so was one of the most severely policed. Perched between the waters of Lake Ashinoko and the steep mountainous terrain of Hakone, Tokaido travellers had no alternative but to submit to inspection.

Dioramas describe life at Hakaone Checkpoint in the Edo Period
Dioramas describe life at Hakaone Checkpoint in the Edo Period

As it was made of wood, unfortunately only foundations now remain of the original Checkpoint complex. But visitors can enjoy a recontruction that has been painstakingly made true to the original specifications. Timber posts of the reconstructed buildings are alligned exactly to sit atop the original foundation stones.

Edo Gate, Hakone Checkpoint
Edo Gate, Hakone Checkpoint

One enters the Checkpoint either via the Edo Gate, if travelling along Tokaido from Edo in the east, or from the Kyo Gate if travelling towards Edo from the west (ie. from the direction of Kyoto). Guard houses, stables, and other practical buildings fill the site. A lookout tower stands high above the main complex on a steep rise, presumably keeping an eye out for any travellers trying to sneak around the Checkpoint undetected. The climb up to the lookout is worth it for a beautiful view across Lake Ashinoko over the top of the Checkpoint buildings to Mt Fuji in the northwest.

Entry to Hakone Checkpoint is included in Tokadio Tour.

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