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A Monk Traveling the Tokaido Road
BooksellerStreet VendorGuardMonkRoninSamurai WomanTeaseller

During the Tokugawa Era, only monks were permitted to play the shakuhachi flute.


Monks of the Tokugawa era were encouraged to visit the major monasteries of their sects (primarily Buddhist) to study the teachings of famous masters. Consequently, they were frequent travelers. When traveling, a monk typically wore a straw hat shaped like an over-sized bowl, covering the upper half of the face, or a hat shaped like a mushroom, which covered the whole face. This helped to mask the monk's identity and kept him undistracted by the sights on the road.

During the Edo era, monasteries were often used as centers of registration for the local population. Villagers were required to support their local temples regardless of their spiritual affiliation. As Japan's culture flourished, many monks turned to the arts, becoming great artists and scholars. Temples often provided schooling for Japanese children.

During the 16th century civil wars, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi fought vast armies of warrior monks aligned with Hogan Temple and Emryaku Temple.

Top and left: Monk/Shunji Jonoshita

On the Tokaido Road
View scenes from the Tokaido Road

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