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Kisokaido: Wada - Station 28

Utagawa Hiroshige - Series of the 69 stations of the Kisokaido: Station Wada (29th print) (Wada)             © Trustees of the British Museum

At 1,650m/5000fr above sea level, the forbidding Wada pass was one of the most dangerous parts of the journey. Hiroshige exaggerated the difficulties of the crossing by rendering the steep walls of the pass, the vegetation clinging to them and the mountains in the background as seen in the morning after a nocturnal snowfall. The only spot of colours are provided by the winter clothing (1) into which the travellers are bundled. The sacred Mt.Ontake is the distant mountain on the left horizon.

There were some variations on this print. The key block was damaged at an early stage and there is a break in the line (2) under the publisher’s seal (see below). In the impression, the mountain in the back (3) has an extra grey gradation.

(Source: The 69 stations of the Kisokaido, Sebastian Izzard, Brazillier 2008)


And now ?

Wada ca.1875-1880

Wada ca. 1880, in front of the inn rebuilt in 1861

The upper part of Wada village ca. 1880. Note the thatched roofs and the tiled overhang with the stones.


Wada village is at 49 ri 24 cho (195km/120mi) from Nihonbashi. The station itself is at 800m/2500ft high and winter sports are now the main activity. It was before an important station (as can be seen in these pictures taken in 1880) with one honjin, one waki-honjin and 28 inns where travellers could rest before the climbing to the pass. In 1861, a fire broke and destroyed all the buildings. The honjin with its stables and several inns were rebuilt at that time and can still be seen today. In 2005, Wada merged with Nagawa town.

The section of the Wada pass is the most difficult of the journey and the longest stretch between two stations. The climb is steep and to ease the walk, paving has been placed. At the pass, the view is magnificient, from Usui-pass seen before, Mt.Asama over the plateau and the mountains surrounding Suwa lake and Shiojiri pass towards where we are heading. An old resthouse dating 1828 welcomes the travellers and a special milemarker indicates 50 ri from Nihonbashi.

The road towards Wada

Wada: An old inn (1861)

Wada: Former honjin -  Second gate

Wada: Former honjin

Wada: Honjin stables

Wada: In the village

Wada: 50 ri marker

Wada pass: A resthouse built in 1828

View from Wada pass towards the East with Mt.Asama

View from Wada pass towards the South

The climb towards the Wada pass and the paving stones 

After the pass, towards Shimosuwa