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Fushimi

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  • Japanese: 伏見 (Fushimi)

Fushimi was a riverboat port located just south of Kyoto. Though today constituting Fushimi Ward (Fushimi-ku) within the formal administrative boundaries of Kyoto City, it was historically a separate town. The chief river port near Kyoto proper, Fushimi was a major hub of trade and travel, with numerous gozabune and 10- & 30-koku ships regularly coming and going, loading and unloading cargoes of rice, firewood, charcoal, and other materials. Smaller canal boats carried people and goods up the Takase canal from Fushimi into Kyoto proper. For many western daimyô, as well as for Ryukyuan and Korean embassies to Edo, Fushimi was their "gateway" to Kyoto - the final stop along a maritime and river journey before changing to travel overland into Kyoto proper, or onwards along the Tôkaidô to Ôtsu and then to Edo.

Fushimi first emerged as a prosperous center in the 1590s, as the castle-town associated with Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Fushimi castle. The castle was dismantled in the 1620s, but in the meantime, the Tokugawa shogunate had officially designated Fushimi a post-station in 1604, and established a number of denma toiyaba (establishments overseeing the provision of porters and post-horses) there at that time. The town remained under direct Tokugawa shogunate control for the duration of the Edo period, overseen by a shogunate official known as the Fushimi bugyô. It came to be regarded as the 54th post-station of the Tôkaidô highway (the first on an extension linking Kyoto with Osaka). Bounded by the Takase canal to the west and the Uji River to the south, the post-town encompassed an area roughly 1 km east to west and roughly 4.6 km north to south, within which lived some 24,000 people at the town's Edo period peak; the town boasted over 6200 buildings, of which four were honjin, two waki-honjin, and 39 hatagoya inns.

The town is known as the location of a number of significant historical sites and events, including the Teradaya inn where several famous swordfights or incidents took place in the 1860s, and the Battle of Toba-Fushimi of 1868. A number of domains from western Japan maintained mansions here. The town is also known for the particularly high quality of its water, leading to it being a major center of saké production; the headquarters of the Gekkeikan saké corporation occupies a considerable footprint in Fushimi, and offers tours for tourists.

For a number of years after the Meiji Restoration, Fushimi continued to be a major hub, with steamboats taking over from earlier paddled or rope-pulled vessels. However, with the opening of the Tokaido Line train line connecting Kyoto and Kobe in 1877, and then the advent of the Keihan railroad in 1910, the curtain closed on the rivers as the chief avenues for trade and travel.

Preceded by:
Kyoto
Stations of the Tôkaidô Succeeded by:
Yodo-juku

References

  • Kusaba Kayoko 草葉加代子, Kyôkaidô to Yodogawa shûun 京街道と淀川舟運. Osaka: Daikoro (2019), 50-51.
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