Print shows travelers in sedan chairs, on horseback, and on foot passing a torii at Mishima shrine near the Mishima station on the Tokaido Road. The Tokaido (East Sea Road) was the most important of the Five Routes of the Edo period, connecting Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Kyoto in Japan. Unlike the inland and less heavily traveled Nakasendo, the Tokaido traveled along the sea coast of eastern Honshu, hence the route's name.
The standard method of travel was by foot, as wheeled carts were almost non-existent and heavy cargo was usually sent by boat. Members of the higher class, however, traveled by kago. Women were forbidden to travel alone and had to be accompanied by men. Other restrictions were also put in place for travelers, but, while severe penalties existed for various travel regulations, most seemed not to be enforced.
There were government-sanctioned post stations along the Tokaido for travelers to rest in. These stations consisted of porter stations and horse stables, as well as lodging, food and other places a traveler may visit. The original Tokaido was made up of 53 stations between the termination points of Edo and Kyoto. The 53 stations were taken from the 53 Buddhist saints that Buddhist acolyte Sudhana visited to receive teachings in his quest for enlightenment. At a few points along the route, there were checkpoints where travelers had to present traveling permits to pass.
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