For centuries the Tokaido was the most important road in Japan. In Edo-period Japan (1603-1868) it linked the shogun’s capital, Edo (modern-day Tokyo), with the emperor’s capital, Kyoto. While the standard method of travel was originally by foot, Walter Padgett whisks us through two months along the road via bicycle.
Used for the transport of letters and lightweight goods, travel, and military use, the 303-mile (488 km) coastal road was dotted with 53 government-sanctioned post stations that supplied food and lodging for travelers. Padgett sets out to photo-document the locations of these stations as described in a series of ukiyo-e woodcut prints created by Utagawa Hiroshige, circa 1830s.
Today, the Tokaido corridor is the most heavily traveled transportation corridor in Japan. Padgett seeks out the remnants of a time when wheeled carts on this road were almost nonexistent and heavy cargo was usually sent by boat. Comparing the travel adventure of centuries ago, through Japanese print images, with his own imagistic encounters, Padgett shares the Road.