Friday, 4 March 2016

Advent of Spring in Hodogaya Post Station

EMU E233 series passes through a railway crossing near Hodogaya Station

The Tokaido Main Line is one of the transportation arteries in Japan. Connecting Tokyo and Kobe, its route length is 589.5 km. Today, long distance passengers use the Tokaido Shinkansen (new trunk line), but the Tokaido Main Line still keeps a position of an artery of commuter and freight transportation.

What was Tokaido like before the inauguration of the railway? It was a road for travelers. They were feudal loads, samurais (soldiers), merchants, postmen and so on. Their transportation means were horses, palanquins or walking. It took time for traveling, so the government set up post stations every 9 km on average to provide travelers with meals and accommodations.

Hodogaya was the fourth post station after leaving Edo (present Tokyo). It was located at the foot of a small hill on the coast of Tokyo Bay. There were 67 travel inns in the early 19th century. Along with inns, many Buddhist temples were opened for travelers. Jugenji temple was one such temple, opened in the early 17th century. Many travelers visited there to pray for their travel safety.

Today, Jugenji is a beautiful temple with halls and a garden. When I visited there, plum had just blossomed. They were tiny white colored flowers, and indicated the advent of spring. The commuter trains of the Tokaido Main Line frequently pass through the back of Jugenji temple. Whenever a train approaches, an alarm of the railway crossing was triggered. The contemporary traveling is fast and convenient, but a bit busy and noisy.

Jugenji Buddhist temple near Hodogaya Station on the Tokaido Main Line