Oiwake packhorse driver's songs originated here. At the junction of the
Kisokaido and Hokkoku Highways, this post town was always busy. At 1,000
meters above sea level, Oiwake was also the highest point of the Kisokaido
Highway. Like Mt. Fuji, Mt. Asama is a conical volcano with beautiful
slopes spreading at the foot. Onioshidashi, a rugged lava field on the
northern side is a famous sight-seeing spot.
The stretch of highway leading to Odai was through a desolate bushy field
at the foot of Mt. Asama. Today this part is called Nishi-karuizawa. "Hime-no-yado"
(Stage for Princesses), was the nickname of Odai because wives of princes
and daimyos often took up their
Iwamurata was the castle town of the Lord of Naito Bungonomori having
a 15,000-koku fief. At this small
post town, the Kisokaido intersected with the Saku-Koshu Road. This picture
is considered a unique piece among the Kiso Highway Series. The scene
is a fight among blind men.
Shionata, on the eastern shore of the Chikuma River, was the only stage
in the province of Shinshu where travellers often met with interruptions
of ferry service. The river ran broad here, and travellers had to be ferried
across it. A beauty spot here was the Fudo Fall with abundant clear water,
where worn-out travellers had a moment of relaxation.
The post town of Yawata was only 2 km from Shionata. The distance between
the stages was the shortest on the Kisokaido Highway. Besides, Yawata
has the smallest number of inns among all the post towns on the Kisokaido.
The place of this picture is probably about Hyakuzawa which was the middle
point between Yawata and Mochizuki.
In the post town of Mochizuki, our attention is drawn to the two-story
houses lining the street with latticed facade and projecting upper-story
part. To the northeast of the post town was Mimakigahara used as Imperial
pastures during the Heian and Kamakura periods (9th through 14th centuries).
The scene depicts the ascent of Uryu-zaka Hill Road between Yawata and
The post town of Ashida was in a mountainous area. The landscape depicted
is the Kasadori Pass on the way from Ashida to Nagakubo. The bold composition
and deformation employed have something in common with modern paintings.
The Kasadori Pass is said to have commanded a magnificent view of Mt.
Past the Kasadori Pass, travellers walked along a gently downhill road
to reach the post town of Nagakubo. This was a bustling junction stage
with the Wada Pass to the south and the Zenkoji Road branching out form
the Kisokaido Highway. In the centre of the picture is the Wada Bridge
across the Yoda River.
This was one of the hardest parts to pass on the Kisokaido Highway. The
forbidding Wada Pass (1,651 m above sea level) is seen under deep snow.
Today you can visit an inn with beautiful latticework restored as the
Historic Road Museum "Kawachiya" and a honjin inn reconstructed into the
"Nakasendo Wada-juku Honjin" museum.
The post town of Shimosuwa prospered as the sole hot spring resort on
the Kisokaido and also as the intersection with the Koshu Highway. Nearby
were the Grand Shrines of Suwa well-known for the "Onbashira" (Sacred
Pillar Erecting) festival. The picture is a detailed scene of customers
taking a meal in an inn. We have it on hearsay that the man facing away
is Hiroshige himself.