Monthly Archives: March 2012

Nagoya Study – Walking through the Old Route "Takabari Michi" Part 2: Higashiyama Zoo to Issha



     “You know, there are stone steps below the ticket booth. They’re the remains of the pond’s embankment.” Mr. Hajime Kobayashi said that and the second field study (I’ve already written the first one: ) began. It was held on March 5th. It had been clear up at the first tour, but unfortunately it was raining that day. TS3N1598 

     What Mr. Kobayashi mentioned is that the stone stairways below the ticket office at Higashiyama Zoo is the remains of part of the embankment of a pond called Shin-ike, which is next to Chikusa Sports Center. Today there is a parking lot across from the pond, but it used to be a part of the pond, which was much bigger in the old days. The pond was reclaimed for building a wide and straight road after World War II. There’re some trees remaining by the parking lot still now. It is a relic of a garden of a house which used to be near the pond. TS3N1604

     The participants of the class walked along the wide street named Hirokoji-dori and turned left and entered an alley before Hoshigaoka Station. The area is called Kameiri. “Kameiri” means upper water gate. There used to be a pond called Nigori-ike around here and to be connected to Shin-ike near the zoo. But there is nothing left of the pond now. What welcomed us at the end of the alley was an old-looking temple. It is Renge-ji Temple. It was moved from the temple town of Higashi-ku on account of the modernization of the city.  TS3N1602

     There is a hill around the station. We climbed up the slope and arrived at another temple. Unlike the former one, this Daijo-ji Temple looked very new and was quite big. I often come to Hoshigaoka area, but I didn’t know there is such a gorgeous temple nearby until the walking tour. The temple was built there about 60 years ago. Mr. Kobayashi said, “They were able to build such a big temple in this place because the cost of the land around here was very cheap at that time. I also might have bought a bit of land around here if I had known the subway station and the bus terminal and Mitsukoshi, the department store, were built…”TS3N1607

     We went through the alley behind the station and came to a small shrine. It is Kobo-do. We saw two other similar ones in Kakuozan and Motoyama at the first class walk. You see two modern buildings behind the small shrine on the photo. One of the buildings is a part of Shukutoku University. I come to the university to take Tai Chi class on Tuesdays, but I had never noticed the shrine. TS3N1613

     As I mentioned on my former article (, Kobo-do is related to water. According to our teacher Mr. Kobayashi, there used to be a spring around there, and a villager had a business with the pure water in old days. It was nagashi somen: people catch and eat noodles with their chopsticks as the noodles run down stream water. TS3N1619

     Suddenly a small park appeared before us while walking along the main street after leaving the shrine and the university. Actually this place used to be a part of the main road. It’s become a kind of rest place to prevent it be used a parking lot by drivers and to make the road straight. TS3N1614

     After leaving the small park, we crossed the road and entered the alley. Actually the alley used to be the main street in the old era. The people of the past walked through this road to bring their renders to the castle town, the center of old Nagoya, and to come back to their village. Today the area looks very modern and tall apartment or business buildings are standing along the alley. But the place used to be hills and mountains and had a narrow unpaved path and rice fields.TS3N1615

     I was able to learn many things about my area I hadn’t known through this course of Nagoya Study this time. It’s become an eye-opener for me. There are many things remaining I don’t know in the field. After the disaster last year, many people have become interested in the history of their places and whose old names. Many of the devastated places have names which tell historical disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami, or tell what used to be those places in the old days. It’s a good thing to study about your place not only for fulfilling your intellectual curiosity but also for disaster prevention.

     The class finished at Issha Station, but the place should be called Ichiyashiro, not Issha. Actually Ichiyashiro is its real name. But nowadays most people don’t know about it…なごや学2 en

Nagoya Study – Walking through the Old Route "Takabari Michi" Part 1 : Kakuozan to Higashiyama Zoo


TS3N1568       Have you ever thought of the origin or meaning of your town’s name? “It’s not good to change the names of towns and streets to new modernistic ones at the land readjustment. We should preserve the old names to pass history down generations through them,” Mr. Hajime Kobayashi, a local historian in Nagoya, said enthusiastically at a class of “Nagoya study”, which I had taken since January to March 5th, in Meito Lifelong Learning Center. By curious coincidence, I read an article about the movement for preservation of the name of a town on March 5th and another article about the action for restoration of the names of old streets in Nagoya on March 8th in the newspaper. TS3N1561

     The first article was that some citizens of Yashio City in Saitama Prefecture and specialists began appealing to the city for conservation of the name of a place “Gake” because the authority was planning to change its name to new one with the land readjustment. The reason why the protesters are demanding to preserve the name is because of not only its sound and meaning but also its Chinese character “垳”. The character is only used there in Japan. Another article was that some people in Nagoya had started bringing some old streets’ names back to renew the local history and Mayor Kawamura showed interested in the movement and mentioned setting a project team in the assembly on March 7th

     I might have even noticed those two articles if I hadn’t taken the forenamed class. I studied the relations between Nagoya Castle town and the eastern area, and whose historical structure from Edo period to the present age in the course. I’ve decided to join in the class because I live in Meito-ku, an eastern town of Nagoya, but I don’t know little about my town. There were six classes in the course, in which the first four were lectures in the classroom and the last two were field studies. I’m going to write about the course here, mainly the last two classes out of doors. TS3N1536

     The first field study was held on February 20. It was cold but a beautiful day for walk. The participants, we were about 40 people, walked from Kakuozan to Higashiyama Zoo. But we didn’t walk through the main street named Hirokoji-dori. Instead we tried to trace the old route called Takabari-Michi as possible as we could. Takabari Michi was a route for bringing rice and horses as farm rent (tax) to the center of the castle town from eastern villages in old days. Some participants needed their walking sticks, and so did our teacher. He is 81 years old. So, he said, “Let’s walk slowly like a procession of oiran (courtesans).” But he shuffled very quickly and the pace was amazingly fast. TS3N1538

     We started off at Kakuozan Station. Kakuozan is famous for Nittai-ji Temple, but the name is a kind of the title of the temple. The area used to be called Tsukimi-zaka, which means the hill of seeing the moon. How romantic! But most citizens don’t know the name. Now there is a sign directing the old route of “Takabari-Michi” at the entrance of Tsukimi-zaka, near the station. Because the present main street used to be a mountain, people had to climb up and down Tsukimi-zaka, which was steeper than at present. Nowadays it’s a quiet residential area.   TS3N1545

     At the traffic intersection of Suemori, we slipped into an alley, which used to be a main road. There’s a small shrine called Kobo-do in the route. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the inside because it was on someone’s property. Kobo-do enshrines Kobo Daishi aka Kukai, a Buddhist priest about 1200 years ago, inside. There are a lot of same legends about him all over Japan that he poked the ground with his cane and suddenly pure water began well up. So, probably the shrine has the similar story and relates to water. TS3N1547

     We went through the northern alley behind the present main street Hirokoji-Dori and came to Motoyama, which had been formed as a village when Suemori area had been damaged by the flood in 1767 and villagers had moved in. The area used to be called Honyama, not Motoyama. Both of Honyama and Motoyama are written in the same Chinese Character “本山”. “Hon” means the main. That is, the main function of the village was there. The new name of Motoyama can’t bring down the history.  TS3N1565

     We went across the main street and took a back road to Togan-ji Temple. Now the main entrance of the temple is open to the main road named Yotsuya-dori, but used to be in the back street, where a great image of Buddha sits and welcomes you. Togan-ji Temple isn’t an ordinary Buddhist temple. It has not only the Big Buddha but also a grave of the father of a famous samurai commander Nobunaga Oda, a statue of sleeping Sarasvati, a faith of linga, and Lama religious and so on. TS3N1577

     After the temple we met another Kobo-do nearby. It is blend in present town, and people who live in the neighborhood might not know its existence. The untouched original route of Takabari Michi remains about 100 meters near Higashiyama Zoo. Today, it looks just a dark alleyway, but I became happy to be able to walk the road, imagining of the bustle of old days when I was walking through. TS3N1583-a

     We arrived at Higashiyama-Koen Station and dissolved there. I was overwhelmed by longtime people’s lives in the route I had walked with my classmates and by the idea of that I was a just tiny spot in our long history. The next class-walk was on March 5th and we started off at Higashiyama-Koen Station. I’m going to write about it later on. 

月見坂から東山公園ルート en