Share this record

No. 29 (廿九) - Hamamatsu (浜松) from the Tōkaidō (東海道) series - The Fifty-three Stations (Gojūsan tsugi no uchi - 五十三次之内)

Identifier: 1847-50 Hiroshige Smoke

Despite the rural nature of this Hiroshige print, Hamamatsu is listed as one of the nine castle towns of the Tōkaidō .


Hamamatsu, the historical significance -

At the age of 29 Tokugawa Ieyasu was the commander of that castle. His chief enemy was Takeda Shingen, aged 51, who was "...proud and corpulent". Ieyasu sent out his scouts "...who were mauled by Shingen's advance guard, and returned rather shaken." Stephen Turnbull speculated that Ieyasu could stay in his castle with the risk of being boxed, which my end with his own suicide, or he could go forth to meet the enemy. He chose the latter. Besides Shingen mains force would have been free to march on Kyōto unmolested.

So Ieyasu boldly led his army out along the road to the north. Three quarters of a mile from Hamamatsu was a stretch of elevated moorland called Mikata-ga-hara. On leyasu's right flank ran the Magome River, while on his left the moor stretched for two miles. He drew up his troops in line abreast, or 'stork's wing' as the Japanese poetically call it. He placed the reinforcements from Nobunaga on his right, with Sakai Tadatsugu on the extreme flank where the ground began to slope. His other 'Shi-tenno' were on the left, and leyasu him-self (sic) retained the main body a little to the rear of centre. Opposing them was the Takeda host, whose advance guard alone nearly exceeded the total Tokugawa number. Behind them stood Shingen himself, with the main body of 15,000 men.

As the two armies assembled it began to snow, and snow was falling steadily at 4 pm when the Takeda advance guard moved up to attack the wings of the Tokugawa. The left held firm, but the right, Nobunaga's reinforcements, soon collapsed, leaving Sakai Tadatsugu isolated.

[More information on this historical episode will be added later.]


"The city of Hamamatsu has for centuries benefited from its location on the Tokaido highway near the midpoint between Kyoto and Edo. During the Tokugawa period, the castle town derived economic advantage from the constant passage to and fro of that steady stream of official travelers (daimyo and their retinue), as well as less official wayfarers (merchants, sojourners, religious pilgrims, and so on) which daily passed through the city. It will be recalled that this is the same route on which the European observer and physician Engelbert Kaempfer found “scarce credible” the number of daily travelers and proclaimed the route to be "on some days more crowded than the public streets in any of the most populous towns of Europe." Even today, when the city is best known for its production of motorcycles and pianos and the local delicacy of unagi (eel), the city is a train stop on the Shinkansen Kodama route — the contemporary counterpart of the Tōkaidō in the Tokugawa period — and remains very much betwixt Japan's ancient and modern capitals."

Quoted from: Remembering Paradise: Nativism and Nostalgia in Eighteenth-century Japan by Peter Nosco, p. 99.


Kitahachi and Yajirōbei of The Shank's Mare by Jippensha Ikku stay in an inn at Hamamatsu.


The original Tōkaidō was established by the Kamakura bakufu (1192-1333) to run from Kamakura to the imperial capital of Kyoto.

Use the form below to email this record to a colleague. The title, identifier, description and a low resolution media version will be included in the email.
To e-mail address (Enter multiple addresses separated by commas)
Your name
Your E-mail Address
Security Question (to prevent SPAMbots)
2 + 7 =