A New MobilityIn the late 16th century the Shogun (Tokugawa Ieyasu) commissioned the construction of five roads. The standard way of traveling was still walking. However, rest stops evolved along the route.
The most important road was the Tokaido that linked Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). There were 53 government sanctioned rest stations along the way. They provided rest, food, horse stables and temples for religious observance.
The Tokaido was governed by a set of travel rules with severe penalties. For example, women couldn't travel alone. This rule wasn't strictly enforced. People required permission to travel. Travel documents were checked at rest stations.
Edo-era Travel BrochuresThe rest stations of the Tokaido were illustrated in Hiroshige's famous art collection: The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido.
During the Edo-era the price of paper dropped dramatically (it was produced by farmers in the winter). Woodblock printing technology made art books affordable for the masses. Travel prints were amongst the best sellers.
For the first time, the common people could see Japan (through the eyes of great artists). It drove people to travel.
Things have ChangedToday there is a shinkansen (bullet train) line named after the Todaido road. It takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to make the 465 kilometer journey from Kyoto to Tokyo.