Checkpoints Kyoto

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Checkpoints, barriers around Kyoto

. tegata 手形 "plates to pass a checkpoint" .

Three famous barrieres (sankan 三関)
leading out of/into Kyoto、already known since the Heian period :

Ise no Suzuka 伊勢の鈴鹿(すずか)
Suzuka no seki 鈴鹿の関
Mie prefecture

Mino no Fuwa 美濃の不破(ふわ)
Fuwa no seki 不破の関
Gifu prefecture

Echizen no Arachi 越前の愛発(あらち)
Arachi no seki 愛発の関
Fukui prefecture

Fuwa no Seki 不破関(ふわのせき)
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Arachi no Seki 愛発関(あらちのせき)
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Fuwa no Seki Barrier and the
. Nakasendoo 中山道 Nakasendo Highway .
- - - - - Gifu Prefecture
57. Tarui-juku 垂井宿 (Tarui, Fuwa District)

58. Sekigahara-juku 関ヶ原宿 . ( Fuwa District)

59. Imasu-juku 今須宿 (Sekigahara, Fuwa District)
- - - - - Shiga Prefecture
60. Kashiwabara-juku 柏原宿 (Maibara)

Fuwa no seki 不破の関 at the foot of Mount Fuwa 不破山

This barrier is famous for a waka by Fujiwara no Yoshitsune 藤原良経 (1169 - 1206)

人住まぬ 不破の関屋の 板庇
あれにし後は ただ秋の風

hito sumanu Fuwa no Seki ya no itabisashi
arenishi nochi wa tada aki no kaze

Nobody lives
at the Fuwa Barrier
and the shingled eaves
are left to rot -
here is only the autumn wind.

Matsuo Basho wrote :

aki kaze ya yabu mo hatake mo Fuwa no seki

autumn wind—
just thickets and fields
at Fuwa Barrier

Tr. Barnhill

autumn winds
in the thickets an fields
Fuwa’s fence

autumn winds
like thickets and fields
the indestructible barrier

Tr. Reichhold

autumn wind -
the thickets, the fields and all
at Fuwa Barrier

Tr. Ueda

Thickets, fields,
And all else that is,
Were once the gate of Fuwa –
The autumn wind blows.

Tr. Yuasa

The Weatherbeaten Trip 野ざらし紀行 - Nozarashi Kiko
貞亭元年 - 貞亭2年 - (1684 -1685)
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


..... and then Fuwa was replaced by one more

Out of Kyoto and into the "Eastern Countries" 東国
on the Nakasendo and Tokaido

"The Gate of Meeting Hill"
Shiga prefecture

Oosaka no seki 逢坂の関 Osaka no seki
The Osaka Checkpoint / Barrier

the border between Yamashiro and Omi province.
ausaka 逢坂 / 合坂 "Meeting Slope"

The region to the east of the barrier pass was "Eastern Country" 東国 .
Since olden times, this barrier has been the subject of poetry.

"To cross the Osaka Checkpoint" has been a poetic way to say that there will be a secret meeting lovers.

The Chinese characters signify 逢 au - a place to meet on a slope 坂 saka.

Also spelled with these characters

相坂 - 合坂 - 相坂の関


Tsumoru koi yuki no seki no to 積恋雪関扉

This is a Tokiwazu Buyo, (dance performed to Tokiwazu music). Its common name is "Sekinoto." Only this Buyo part, from the last scene of the long work called "Junihitoe komachizakura," remains.

In the first half of this work, the stage shows the snow-covered Osaka no seki (barrier) where komachizakura (cherry blossoms) are proudly blooming. Yoshimine Munesada lives near the seki, and his lover Komachihime visits him. Komachihime is suspicious of Sekibe, the sekimori (barrier guard).

In the second half of the play, the characters reveal their true identities. Sekibe is actually Otomo Kuronushi, a great villain plotting to take over the whole country, and the courtesan Sumizome is the spirit of the komachizakura. They battle each other. In many cases, the 2 roles, Komachihime and Sumizome, are performed by a single Onnagata actor.
source : unesco/kabuki


知るも知らぬも 逢坂(あふさか)の関

kore ya kono yuku mo kaeru mo wakarete wa
shiru mo shiranu mo Oosaka no Seki

Truly, this is where
Travelers who go or come
Over parting ways--
Friends or strangers-- all must meet:
The gate of "Meeting Hill."

10 - Semimaru 蝉丸
source : etext.virginia.edu

source : yamatouta/utamaku

Semimaru jinja 蝉丸神社 shrine for Semimaru

関蝉丸神社 Seki Semimaru Jinja
With two shrine buildings

Deities in residence

上社:猿田彦命 Upper shrine : Sarutahiko no kami
下社:豊玉姫命 Lower shrine : Toyotama Hime no kami

The shrine was erected in 822.
Ono no Minemori 小野岑守 was an aristocrat of the Heian period, who initiated the two shrines to protect the travelers out of Kyoto.
In 876, they were called the
Slope protecting deities of Omi 近江国「坂神」.

In the Heian period, the poet Semimaru built his hermitage here and is now venerated.

source : nire.main.jp

Shrine Semimaru Gu 蝉丸宮 and the protector deities of Seki, the checkpoint, Sekimorigami 関守神.

Many poems were made as offerings to the deities by travellers, before crossing the pass.
tamuke no uta, tamuke uta 手向け歌, 手向歌, 手向唄
poem as offering

momiji ha o sekimorigami ni tamuke okite
Oosakayama o suguru kogarashi

leaving red maple leaves
as poetic offerings
to the deities of the checkpoint
a winter storm passes
mount Osakayama

藤原実守 (千載集) Fujiwara no Sanemori

源仲政(扶木抄)Minamoto no Takamasa

Many checkpoint villages later had special shrines for poem offerings and protecting deities, 境をまもる神.
sakai no myoojin 境の明神

Sekido Myoojin 関戸明神 deity Sekido Myojin
Seki no Myoojin 関の明神 Myojin Deity to protect a checkpoint
(Sometimes Matsuo Basho at Shirakawa Checkpoint is called like this.)

The market was protected by Ichihime no Kami 市姫の神 / 一姫
Tsubaichi 海石榴市

the bridge was protected by 橋姫の神
Uji no Hashi Hime 宇治の橋姫
. Hashihime 橋姫 / はし姫 "Princess of the Bridge" .
Seoritsuhime 織津比売(せおりつひめ)の神 deity of waterfalls and rapids

. Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Poems 小倉百人一首 .

Ichihime no kami emi tamae kusa no choo

Godess Ichihime
plase smile on me -
butterfly in the grass

Tr. Gabi Greve

Kobayashi Issa

Ichihime Jinja いちひめ神社 / 市姫神社 Shrine for Ichihime
. . . CLICK here for Photos !
Many small Daruma amulets are sold here.

. Semimaru as kami no soshin 髪の祖神 
main deity for hair problems .

story of Sakagami Hime 逆髪姫

. biyoo no kami 美容の神様 deity of beauty - Ichikishimahime 市杵島姫 .


Sekijuku 関宿, located in Seki-cho, Kameyama-shi, Mie Prefecture, is the only place where the past has left a trace of the memories of the Tokaido, the old coastal road between Edo and Kyoto.

Seki-juku, with “seki” meaning checkpoint, was a post town with a checkpoint as the name suggests.
(A 'seki' or 'sekisho' was a barrier station on thoroughfares between provinces, where the movement of criminals, weapons, hostages, etc. could be checked.)

However, it was not a checkpoint in Edo period, but was built in 672 at the time of Jinshin War. It was known as Suzuka no Seki at that time and was referred to as one of Three Great Checkpoints in ancient Japan, along with Arachi in Echizen and Fuwa in Mino. The checkpoints were abolished in 789.

During the Middle Ages, under the control of Seki Clan, the town developed around Jizou-in Temple first as a temple town and later prospered as a post town.

In 1601 (Edo period), Tokugawa government brought back the checkpoint system and Seki-juku became the 47th post town starting from Shinagawa-juku, covering the present areas of Kizaki, Nakamachi and Shinjo in Seki Town, Kameyama, Mie Prefecture.

The area is the only post town along Fifty-three Sations of the Toukaidou where stores and houses from ancient times still remain intact. Since it was designated as an Important Cultural Buildings Preservation District in 1984, the town has been reinventing itself utilizing and preserving unique local historical assets.

Seki-juku post town consist of four boroughs each with unique characteristics; Kizaki, where a line of low rise housing exists: Nakamachi with “honjin” (inns for lords and samurai) , “hatago” (inns for general people) and wholesalers gathered: Shinjo, an area in front of Jizou-in Temple: Kitaura where there are many temples and shrines.

The current structure of the town was probably created by Seki Morinobu, who also constructed neighboring roads and the town of Nakamachi, which lies between Shinsho and Kizaki. As time passed, the streets of Nakamachi and the town itself grew and developed eastwards, eventually becoming the larger town it is today. By the late Edo period, Sekijuku had become the main post station on the Tokaido Shukuba.

In 1984, Sekijuku was designated as an Important Historic Preservation District. The Seki-Jizoin, which was nominated as an Important National Cultural Property can also be found in this district.
The streets of Sekijuku are a precious reminder of the history of the Tokaido.
source : nippon-kichi.jp

Seki 関: 一休和尚と地獄太夫 Priest Ikkyu and the Hell Courtesan Jigoku-dayu
Utagawa Hiroshige I 歌川広重 (1797–1858)

. The 53 stations of the Tokaido 東海道五十三次 .


. Tamukeyama Hachiman shrine 手向山八幡 .

. Kaido 日本の街道 The Ancient Highways of Japan .




Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Written at Sukagawa, when Basho stayed with Sagara Tokyu

sekimori no yado o kuina ni toou mono

the home of the barrier guard
I will ask to the
water rail, yes

Tr. Gabi Greve
about Sukagawa

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

oosaka ya te nareshi koma ni itomagoi

the Kyoto border!
horsemen say farewell
to the horses they've raised

Read the comment by Chris Drake