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Hokkoku Kaido

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  • Japanese: 北国街道 (hokkoku kaidô)

The Hokkoku kaidô, or "Northern Provinces Highway," was a major Edo period highway linking Edo and the Sea of Japan (Jôetsu) region. It followed the Chikuma River for much of the highway's length, running chiefly through Shinano province.

The Hokkoku Kaidô started at Oiwake 追分 (near Karuizawa), where it split off from the Nakasendô. It then followed the Chikuma River 千曲川 west, downstream, passing through Komoro 小諸, Unno-juku 海野宿, and Ueda 上田, and entering the region known as Kawanakajima. The highway then split off from the Chikuma River at Toyono 豊野, and followed the Torii 鳥居River upstream, eventually going through the 666 m. Nojiri-zaka Pass 野尻坂峠 into Echigo province. From there it went north down the valley to Naoetsu 直江津 (Jôetsu) on the coast, where it joined the Hokurikudô ("Hokuriku Road").

Today, National Route 18, i.e. the Jôshinetsu 上信越 [Kôzuke-Shinano-Echigo] Expressway, largely follows the path of the former Hokkoku Kaidô. This modern highway was built a quarter mile east of the historic Hokkoku Kaidô, allowing many sections of historic buildings and streets to be preserved.

References

  • William Coaldrake, "Unno: Edo Period Post Town of the Central Japan Alps," Asian Art 5 (Spring 1992), 9-29.
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