The Tokaido Road (東海道 Tōkaidō) was an important route during the Edo period. While today it is still an important route connecting Tokyo and Kyoto, the road plays an important part of The Golden Route, which is one popular itinerary for first time visitors to Japan. While the road started in Edo (now Tokyo) and ended in Kyoto, it was extended to include Osaka in 1620's. Today, the Golden Route follows the extended route to Osaka. While back then the road took up to 2 weeks to complete, Golden Route itineraries today usually run for 5-7 days.
Kaidō (街道) were roads which were created during the Edo period (1603-1868). These roads served multiple purposes, including trade, diplomacy and pilgrimage. There were five major Kaido called the Edo Five Routes, which were administered routes from Edo to the outer provinces. The Tokaido Road, which roughly translates to "eastern sea route", was the most important route as it followed the east coast of Japan's main island, Honshu. Similar routes were less traveled, as they went into mountainous areas of the island. The journey stopped at over 50 locations along the coast. While the road may have been traveled by foot or by cart, many of these ancient and historical routes have been incorporated in modern day Japan. The Tokaido Main Line follows the road closely, as does most of the Tokaido Shinkansen, and is what makes this long, almost two-week journey, into a mere 2.5 hour trip. The Golden Route follows the route of the Tokaido Shinkansen, and visits several populous cities across the East Coast, seeing many castles, temples and natural wonders, including multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This itinerary varies, but usually involves travelers arriving at one of Tokyo's airports, then sightseeing Tokyo, before travelling on the Shinkansen to stop at Hakone & Mt Fuji, then stopping at Kyoto for a few days, before traveling to Nara, and flying out of Osaka. Some extended itineraries continue traveling east to include the towns of Hiroshima and Himeji.
Since the growth of the Shinkansen network, other Prefectures have created similar routes for travelers. For example, The New Golden Route is a route between Tokyo and Osaka, but visits cities in the north across the Sea of Japan. While you still arrive in Tokyo, you then travel on the Hokuriku Shinkansen as you site see Takasaki, Nagano, Kurobe, and Kanazawa, before traveling to Omi-Takashima, Kyoto and Osaka via local trains. The Diamond route is a similar route on the Hokkaido island.
- See also: Rail travel in Japan
Most of the stops are located within walking distance of stations along the Tokaido Main Line. A few are near Shinkansen stations, and those not along either of those lines are typically near private railway stations or in the case of Mie Prefecture's stations, other JR line stations. This is convenient for both train travelers and those who actually plan to walk the route on foot but cannot do it all in one trip. It is quite easy to go back to whatever station you ended on last time to continue your journey. Being near stations also means finding accommodations near whatever station you end your day at should not be much of an issue.
East End (Tokyo)
- See also: Tokyo#Get in
The first station from the East end is Nihonbashi Bridge, in the heart of Tokyo.
Your best starting point would be to go to Tokyo Station (Tokyo-eki) in Chiyoda ward, and then leaving the station via the Nihonbashi Exit. Walk north until you get to Eitai-dori Ave (永代通り), then turn right. Follow the road until you get to Nihonbashi metro station intersection, or Chuo-dori Ave (中央通り). Turn left onto Chuo-dori Ave until you reach the bridge.
West End (Kyoto)
- See also: Kyoto#Get in
The first station from the West end is Sanjoo Bridge. You can get there by arriving at Sanjo Keihan station, and exiting via exits 6 or 7. Walk west onto the bridge.
The Tokaido road to Kyoto
- 1 *Nihonbashi – The starting location is Nihonbashi, a bridge in the old heart of Japan. Tokyo Station is only a short walk from the bridge.
- 2 *Shinagawa-juku – (Shinagawa)
- 1 Kawasaki-juku – (Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki)
- 2 Kanagawa-juku – (Kanagawa-ku, Yokohama)
- 3 Hodogaya-juku – (Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama)
- 4 Totsuka-juku – (Totsuka-ku, Yokohama)
- 5 Fujisawa-shuku – (Fujisawa)
- 6 Hiratsuka-juku – (Hiratsuka)
- 7 Ōiso-juku – (Ōiso, Naka District)
- 3 *Odawara-juku – (Odawara)
- 8 Hakone-juku – (Hakone, Ashigarashimo District)
- 4 *Mishima-shuku – (Mishima)
- 9 Numazu-juku – (Numazu)
- 10 Hara-juku – (Numazu)
- 11 Yoshiwara-juku – (Fuji)
- 12 *Kanbara-juku – (Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka)
- 13 Yui-shuku – (Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka)
- Okitsu-juku – (Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka)
- 14 Ejiri-juku – (Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka)
- 5 *Fuchū-shuku – (Aoi-ku, Shizuoka)
- 15 Mariko-juku – (Suruga-ku, Shizuoka)
- 16 Okabe-juku – (Fujieda)
- 17 Shimada-juku – (Shimada)
- 18 Kanaya-juku – (Shimada)
- 19 Nissaka-shuku – (Kakegawa)
- 6 *Kakegawa-juku – (Kakegawa)
- 20 Fukuroi-juku – (Fukuroi)
- 21 Mitsuke-juku – (Iwata)
- 7 *Hamamatsu-juku – (Naka-ku, Hamamatsu)
- 22 Maisaka-juku – (Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu)
- 23 Arai-juku – (Kosai)
- 24 Shirasuka-juku – (Kosai)
- 25 Futagawa-juku – (Toyohashi)
- 8 *Yoshida-juku – (Toyohashi)
- 26 Goyu-shuku – (Toyokawa)
- 27 Akasaka-juku – (Toyokawa)
- 28 Fujikawa-shuku – (Okazaki)
- 29 Okazaki-shuku – (Okazaki) Also part of the Shio no Michi.
- 30 Chiryū-juku – (Chiryū)
- 31 Narumi-juku – (Midori-ku, Nagoya)
- 32 Miya-juku – (Atsuta-ku, Nagoya)
At this point the two routes divert, with the Shinkansen traveling to Maibara, Shinga, while the road traveling down to the Mie Prefecture. The routes connect back at Otsu.
- 33 Kuwana-juku – (Kuwana)
- 34 Yokkaichi-juku – (Yokkaichi)
- 35 Ishiyakushi-juku – (Suzuka)
- 36 Shōno-juku – (Suzuka)
- 37 Kameyama-juku – (Kameyama)
- 38 Seki-juku – (Kameyama)
- 39 Sakashita-juku – (Kameyama)
- 40 Tsuchiyama-juku – (Kōka)
- 41 Minakuchi-juku – (Kōka)
- 42 Ishibe-juku – (Konan)
- 43 Kusatsu-juku – (Kusatsu)
- 44 Ōtsu-juku – (Ōtsu)
The Ōsaka Kaidō Extension
- Fushimi-juku – (Fushimi-ku, Kyoto)
- Yodo-juku – (Fushimi-ku, Kyoto)
- 46 Hirakata-juku – (Hirakata)
- 47 Moriguchi-juku – (Moriguchi)
- 9 *Kōraibashi – The ending location in Osaka is also a bridge, the Kōraibashi.