Hodogaya was established in 1601 as the 4th stop westward of Edo (now called Tokyo) for weary Tokaido walkers to rest for the night
the territory between the old capitals of Kyoto and Osaka, and the new capital in Edo, played a pivotal role in this part of Japanese history. This is not lost on Clavell, who strategically places his story on the Izu Peninsula
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.
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.
Smack bang in the middle of the Tokaido, is literally how Fukuroi locals describe their town in Japanese.