The Tokaido road is the road in Japan that connects Kyoto with Tokyo. It is historically significant for many reasons, but the fact that the two most important cities in Japanese history are at either end of it should be reason enough. Many a daimyo and his entourage has made the journey down the Tokaido, especially during the Tokugawa era.

I think it's a freeway, now.

Tokaido means "Eastern Sea Route". Therefore it is a pleonasm to say "Tokaido road". There were traditionally 53 stations (Tokaido Gojusantsugi) on the road between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. Hiroshige painted every one of these stations in his "53 Stations of Tokaido" series:


Tokaido is the historical name of the area around the "Tokaido road" in Japan: present-day Ibaragi, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Aichi, and Mie prefectures. The characters in its name literally mean "east sea road," and indeed, the region runs along the east coast of Japan. Historically, the major cities in the Tokaido region were Edo, Odawara, and Nagoya: now we can add Yokohama, Chiba, and Tokyo to that list.

The Tokaido road's original path is now used by the Tokaido Shinkansen, the JR Tokaido Line, and the Meishin Expressway and Tomei Expressway, all of which connect Kyoto and Tokyo. At certain points, the three routes run in very close proximity to each other: south of Kyoto, they all run within a kilometer-wide corridor. The Tokaido is by far the busiest transportation route in Japan, and alleviating its traffic was the prinicipal reason the Shinkansen was built in the 1960's.

The states of the Tokaido region were Hitachi, Shimousa, Kazusa, Awa, Musashi, Sagami, Kai, Izu, Suruga, Totomi, Mikawa, Owari, Ise, Iga, and Shima.

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