Nishigahara Ichirizuka (milestone)

Japanese milestone|Beautiful Japanese culture!| Nishigahara Ichirizuka


Do you know about Japanese milestones? The Nishigahara Ichirizuka is one of the National Historic Sites. At 4T-AMKY, Teachers and Students write about Japanese culture, food, history, many spots to visit, and other stuff. Enjoy reading and knowing about deeper Japanese culture!

Nishigahara Ichirizuka (milestone)


Ichirizuka is a mound placed every 1 ri (about 3.927 km) on the side of a major kaido (road) as a milestone for travelers.

Nishigahara Ichirizuka, located in Oji, Kita-ku, Tokyo, is the second Ichirizuka of the Nikko Onari Michi (Nikko Onari Road). It is located in the same position as it was established in the Edo era. It is said that that mound was almost removed during the Taisho Era (1912-1926) due to road repair work, but it was saved by the efforts of local residents, led by businessman Eiichi Shibusawa and others. On March 8, 1922, it was designated as a National Historic Site.

Nikko Onari Michi is a road taken by the shogun to visit Nikko Toshogu Shrine, which enshrines Ieyasu Tokugawa. It is a journey of 5 inns, 12 ri (about 47 km) starting from Edo Nihonbashi until it joins Nikko Kaido, one of the Five Kaidos.

Today, the section from Kandabashi in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, now called Hongo-dori, to its intersection with Meiji-dori in front of Asukayama Park in Oji, Kita-ku, Tokyo, falls under Nikko Onari Michi. The road between Edo and Iwatsuki is also called Iwatsuki Kaido because it was the route taken by the feudal lords of the Iwatsuki domain during Sankinkotai (a system under which feudal lords in the Edo era were required to spend every other year in residence in Edo).

It was during the Edo era (1603-1867) that Ichirizuka mounds were maintained nationwide. It began in 1604 at the order of Ieyasu Tokugawa, and starting from Nihonbashi in Edo, an ichirizuka was established at every 1 ri (about 4 km) on each major kaido (road) in Japan, which was completed in about 10 years.

The size of the Ichirizuka is about 9 m square. It was built by heaping up the earth to a height of about 1.7 m. Enoki or other trees were planted on top of the Ichirizuka so that travelers could rest in the shade of the trees. The planted trees also had the role of preventing the collapse of the mound with their roots. Enoki trees are also planted on Nishigahara Ichirizuka, but unfortunately the ones from the Edo era have withered away and new ones have been planted to this day.

The original form of an ichirizuka was to be placed in pairs on both sides of a road. However, most of the existing Ichirizuka are often found only on one side of the road. Some of the existing pairs of Ichirizuka mounds across the street are valuable cultural assets and are designated as national historic sites, and Nishigahara Ichirizuka is one of them.

There is a large green median in the middle of the large four-lane road (two lanes each direction) and on the mound there is a “Historic Site Nishigahara Ichirizuka,” monument. But unfortunately, I could not approach it because there is no traffic light and a no-crossing sign.







一里塚が全国的に整備されるようになったのは江戸時代です。1604年に徳川家康の命で始まり、江戸の日本橋を起点として全国の各街道の1里(約4 km)ごとに一里塚が設置され、10年ほどで完了したということです。

一里塚の大きさは約9 m四方です。高さ約1.7 mに土を盛り上げてつくられました。木陰で旅人が休息を取れるように一里塚の上には榎(えのき)などの樹木が植えられました。また、植えられた樹木は塚の崩壊を根で防ぐ役割も持っていました。西ヶ原一里塚の上にも榎が植えられていますが、江戸時代のものは残念ながら枯れてしまい、新たな榎が植えられて現在に至っているそうです。