This morning (March 6), Okada-sensei brought an interesting document into class: A stamp book from the Edo era for pilgrims on the way to Ise Jingu.
If you’ve been around sightseeing spots in Japan, you’ve probably noticed that many have stamps you can use if you want. The idea is that you can collect stamps to remember all the locations you’ve been to. Some people carry small empty books around and stamp them, and in some cases booklets for a number of sites that are somehow connected are available with specific places for each stamp. The stamp book shown here could be seen as a predecessor of that. However, it is not a mere memento.
The columns list places to take a break (休) or sleep (宿) on the way to Ise, sometimes with variations for different possible routes. The top right corner of each column gives the distance in Ri (リ, approximately 3927 meters) to the previous location, making it a travel guide that helps the pilgrim to decide when to go on and when to rest. By stamping visited locations, it doubles as a travel log. And at the appropriate location along the journey, there are even illustrations for the main shrines, 外宮 (Geku) and 内宮 (Naiku), which are traditionally visited in that order, hence the names. Our study program’s schedule ignored that tradition, though.