Mariko has been a post town since the first Shogun, Yoritomo, granted the area to local warriors in 1189. Chijoya was established as a teahouse there in 1596. In 1601, Tokugawa, who established Edo as Japan's new capital, introduced the post horse system whereby elite and urgent travellers could exchange tired horses for fresh horses at frequent intervals along Tokaido. This encouraged Mariko's rapid development as a post town, busy with couriers, feudal lords, and travellers.
Mr Yamamoto is the thirteenth generation manager of Amasake Chaya. Together with his wife, their quaint little establishment serves thirsty Tokaido travellers with the sweet, warm, amasake their family has been serving for four centuries.
Four centuries ago exactly, the second Edo Period Shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada, ordered the planting of sugi (Japanese Ceder, Cryptomeria japonica) along both sides of Tokaido to shade travellers as they made their way around the shoreline of Lake Ashinoko towards Hakone Checkpoint. 420 of these magnificant specimens remain, towering straight, fat, and proud into the Hakone sky along Ceder Avenue.
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.
Kodama Tokaido Shinkansen slides smoothly into Kakegawa station. Out the window, the white walls of the castle atop a hill-top grab attention. Kakegawa Castle is important in Japanese history, being part of the story of the growing power-base of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan's most famous Shogun who started the Edo Period and set up a new capital in what is now modern-day Tokyo. Also in the castle you can see the 3 leaf ensign of Yamauchi, the local lord assigned to Kakegawa Castle by Tokugawa. The ensign looks vaguely familiar for a reason - it is the base for Mitsubishi's three-diamond brand.
Smack bang in the middle of the Tokaido, is literally how Fukuroi locals describe their town in Japanese.
Ninomiya lived at the end of the Edo Period (19C) in a small town near Odawara (Tokaido Station #10). Ninomiya is a stop on the modern Tokaido local line. On adulthood, his name became Ninomiya Shotoku, and he espoused the virtues of fours principles - diligence, sincerity, modesty, charity.