Visiting Seki Post Town

The best preserved of the 53 stations along the old Tōkaidō.

Japan, Mie, Tōkaidō, Post Town, Museum, History

On Thursday, December 14, I visited Seki-juku (Seki Post Town) with a friend.

We rode our bikes to Tsu Station and then took the JR Kisei Line to Kameyama, where we had to change trains to the Kansai Line. The Kansai Line going to Seki Station was a very short (single-car) diesel multiple unit (DMU) train, model KiHa 120.

Train leaving Seki Station headed for Kamo

As it was a very small local train, we couldn’t pay with our Suica IC cards, which we didn’t know at first, so we had to correct it when returning.

The train runs to Kamo Station in Kyōto Prefecture, where passengers can switch to the Yamatoji Line to Nara and Ōsaka, which is technically part of the Kansai Main Line connecting JR Namba Station in Ōsaka with Nagoya Station. It seems like the Kintetsu lines out-competed the Kansai Main Line, resulting in that split.

Seki-juku was the 47th of the 53 stations of the Tōkaidō, the most important of the five Routes of the Edo period in Japan, connecting Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo).

Model of Sekis’ townscape in 1671

Following the Meiji Restoration, the modern town of Seki developed around it, and it became part of the city of Kameyama in 2005. Many of the historical buildings have been preserved, and the area was designated as Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings in 1984.

It is apparently the best preserved post town of the Tōkaidō.


Walking through Seki-juku, it was pretty quiet, with only a few people walking around, creating a calming atmosphere.

First, we went to Chōkantei, a building inside Hyakurokuritei Park, where you can take the stairs to the roof to see the town from above.

view from Chōkantei

Next, we visited the Sekijuku Hatago Tamaya Historical Museum, which is an Edo Period inn that has been preserved to show the conditions for Japanese travelers in the Edo period. We were told that it housed 200 people back in the day, something you can hardly imagine now.

The inn was well-preserved, and the interior was nicely arranged to showcase the different aspects of the inn. As I walked around each area of the museum while feeling the tatami mats under my feet, it almost felt like I had been transported to a time in the distant past. Although the calm atmosphere must be quite a contrast to the bustling post town that Seki-juku was in the Edo Period, I was able to imagine the inn filled with people. I appreciated the fact that I could see the things in their natural environment, where they were used, instead of in a regular museum display.

A futon (bed) with a wooden headrest as seen in the Sekijuku Hatago Tamaya Historical Museum

I think I prefer my pillow over a wooden headrest.

In the back, after going through the courtyard, there was also a small separate room with a collection of old Ukiyo-e by Utagawa Hiroshige. What impressed me was the use of color and how vivid especially the blue color still was after all these years.

We then visited the Seki Machinami Museum, which showcased the Edo period townhouses, the tools and materials used, as well as the changes in the townscape of Seki-juku over time. The model of the town I included a picture of at the beginning was in this museum. It is another one of the traditional buildings that has been preserved in its original state and opened to the public as a museum.

I thought about how these houses always had a nice little courtyard, adding to the aesthetics of the place.

The last museum included in the 500-yen combo ticket was the Seki no Yama Kaikan. It was the residence of Mitani Kōichi, a potter of Seki Banko ware, the representative modern industry of Seki-juku. However, his company went out of business in 1921 due to a lack of materials and craftsmen. We were also shown a hole in the ceiling, which was used to let in light because they didn’t have glass windows like today.

The Seki no Yama Kaikan displays and teaches about the floats that have been passed down in Seki-juku, locally called (seki no) yama, and about the history and culture of the Seki-juku Gion Festival. We learned that there used to be 16 floats, but now there are only 4 left. Two of them were displayed in the museum. I think that the declining population means less interest and fewer funds to maintain the floats and the festival, which is a shame.

As we wanted to see the Torii from Ise Grand Shrine, we headed east to the “beginning” of Seki.

Torii at East Fork

The reason for this Torii is that it is the beginning of the Ise-betsu Kaidō, which leads on to the Ise Kaidō used by people pilgrimaging to Ise Grand Shrine.
It is quite a big Torii – it is from Ise Grand Shrine after all – and the road passes through it.

Then we walked back to see Seki Jizō-in and eat lunch.

Said to have been established in 741, Seki Jizō-in is quite the historical temple.

The main hall, the aizome hall and the bell tower were built in the 17th century and are designated as Important Cultural Assets.

We had lunch at Aizuya right next to the temple.

I took the recommended meal set (osusume teishoku) for 1800 yen.

recommended meal set at Aizuya

It includes okowa – steamed sticky rice with chicken and vegetables, soba noodle soup, sweet white beans and a variety of vegetables and fruits that are currently in season. The taste of both the rice and the soba noodle soup was amazing, and the combination of the different ingredients was just right. I wish I could eat it more often.

To end the trip, we went for a foot bath at the Koman no yu. There was a sign that it was closed from December 15 until January 9, so we were lucky to be there the day before it closed.

Koman no yu footbath

Before we left, I bought some shiratama dango to take with me.

It was a really nice trip, and I would recommend it to anyone in the area. Even the power and network cables were buried to support the historical look of Seki-juku and there is a branch of the Hyakugo Bank inside a building just like the other historical buildings there, which makes it look like it’s a traditional business from there. It is nice to see initiatives to preserve the history of the area, and I hope that it will continue to be preserved for future generations. The very nice museums that have been created in recent years are a good sign.

alcohol vending machine and egg vending machine

We also saw a vending machine selling alcohol and one selling eggs, which I thought was interesting.