In early modern Japan, both merchants and tourists frequented the Tokaido road often. Among the 53 post-stations along the way from the capital city of Edo to Kyoto, one important one was the Totsuka-juku. If you were traveling west from Edo, Totsuka was the 6th post station where travelers would be stopping. The Totsuka station was roughly 13 ri (51 kilometers) from the city of Edo.(1)
While the importance of this post-station was not realized in 1603 when only 33 of the 53 post-stations were given official statuses, a year later in 1604 Totsuka also got official status to operate as a post station and to serve travelers.(2) This importance was realized due to the long 16-kilometer distance between the Hodogaya and the Fujisawa stations, which was reduced by the Totsuka station in 1604.(3) Similarly, over the next 29 years after 1603, 20 more stations were given official statuses to make the Tokaido system more efficient.(4)
Historical evidence suggests that due to the large distance between the Fujisawa and the Hodogaya, Totsuka station began to become a popular stop for travelers to stop and take breaks or even stay there overnight. A traveler Inoue Tsujo’s itinerary along the Tokaido from 1689 is an example of the schedule that travelers followed along the Tokaido in Early Modern Japan.(5) The itinerary shows that he traveled for the whole day from Edo for 51-kilometers and then stayed the night at the Totsuka station which was which could not have been possible in 1603. The travelers would have either taken the overnight stay either at Hodogaya or at Fujisawa which were respectively, either too near or too far. This increasing importance of Totsuka as a popular stop among travelers is also shown by the aggressive behavior shown by post stations to protect their economic interests.(6) For instance, the Fujisawa station complained to the bakafu that Totsuka station was not operating legally which resulted in Totsuka being ordered to stop operating.(7) Later when the Totsuka station promised to oblige by the laws and was given the permission to resume operations, the Fujisawa station continued to file complaints in an attempt to eliminate the Totsuka station and gain sole rights to post operations in the 16-kilometer stretch from Fujisawa to Hodogaya.(8)
Today, the Totsuka station still serves travelers in the city of Yokohama as a train station. It is present in the Totsuka ward of the Yokohama city. The station continues to uphold its historical significance of being a popular and busy transiting zone in the city as 4 different train lines and 20 bus routes pass through the Totsuka station, which serves as a central position in the city.(9)
1 Constantine Nomikos Vaporis, “Overland Communications in Tokugawa Japan (Travel, Transportation, Pilgrimage)” (Ph.D diss., Princeton University, 1987), 370.
2 Constantine Nomikos Vaporis, Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 19-21 .
3 Vaporis, Breaking Barriers, 21.
4 Vaporis, Breaking barriers, 19-21.
5 Vaporis, “Overland Communications in Tokugawa Japan,” 370.
6 Vaporis, Breaking Barriers, 21.
7 Vapori, Breaking Barriers, 21.
8 Vaporis, “Overland Communications in Tokugawa Japan,” 18.
9 Google Maps.
Vaporis, Constantine Nomikos, Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 19-21 .
Vaporis, Constantine Nomikos, “Overland Communications in Tokugawa Japan (Travel, Transportation, Pilgrimage)” (Ph.D diss., Princeton University, 1987), 18, 370. https://search.proquest.com/docview/303616441?pq-origsite=summon
Google maps. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Totsukafirstname.lastname@example.org,139.5342039,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x6d1f4638a214c4e3!8m2!3d35.4007664!4d139.5342039