Hamamatsu and its surrounding areas thrived along the old Tokaido, the main road which for centuries has connected Tokyo and Kyoto. Today there still stands many cultural properties showing this historical legacy. Hamamatsu Castle, built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, should not be missed.
Situated along the Tokaido road, the most important road connecting Tokyo and Kyoto, old Hamamatsu and neighboring towns initially developed as post stations. Many historical structures from these ancient post stations still remain standing as registered cultural properties to tell the story of their long history.
Since the young Tokugawa Ieyasu built Hamamatsu Castle, Hamamatsu Shuku (the post station of Hamamatsu) notably grew as a castle town. Hamamatsu eventually became one of the biggest Tokaido post stations equal to the Hakone post station.
Here in Hamamatsu, you will never be lacking in interesting places to visit if you want to know more about Japanese history. There are historical buildings around Lake Hamana, such as the checking station in Arai and the waki-honjin (residences used as accommodation for samurai officials) in Maisaka. As with the Kiga post station on Himekaido Road in the northern part of modern-day Hamamatsu, these buildings show us what life was like in the shukuba (post station) town. At Saigagake Museum, visitors can learn about the battle of Mikatagahara. You can also visit the ruins of Futamata Castle, where Ieyasu’s oldest son Nobuyasu was tragically forced to commit suicide by seppuku.
Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hamamatsu Castle
Tokugawa Ieyasu started the Edo government in the year 1600, which began the 300-year Edo period ruled by the Tokugawa Family. 30 years before Ieyasu ruled Japan, he built Hamamatsu Castle in order to fight Takeda Shingen’s attempt to invade his territory. Ieyasu spent 17 years at Hamamatsu Castle, between the ages of 29 and 45 years old. Many of those who took castellany at Hamamatsu Castle were later promoted to important positions in the government. This is why Hamamatsu Castle is later called “shusse-jo”, or the castle of promotion. In 1958, the new castle tower was rebuilt. The tower has now become the symbol of Hamamatsu Castle Park.
Post Stations on the Tokaido Road
Tokaido was constructed in the Edo period. 53 towns along the road were designated as post stations (towns with accommodations for travelers) and Hamamatsu was one of them. Being a castle town around Hamamatsu Castle, Hamamatsu became one of the largest post stations. Unfortunately many of historical structures in the Hamamatsu post station were lost in wars, and today, only the signs and monuments are left to tell of the history of the post station. The building used for the checking station in Arai still remains and it is the only building of its kind today. In the Arai checking station and waki-honjin (accommodation used for samurai officials) of Maisaka, historical exhibits describe the post station culture. You will also find rows of pine trees at various parts of the old Tokaido, showing remnants of its old days.