After landing at Narita on Sunday May 9 afternoon I took a side trip to Sawara before heading into Tokyo later that evening. Usually I arrive on flights from Portland that land too late in the day for a side trip but the short flight from Seoul got me to Narita much earlier and so I checked my luggage in bag storage for a few hours and took the JR train to Sawara. Since I have been exploring blogging I thought I should blog about an explorer and Sawara is the home town of an 18th century Japanese explorer geographer named Ino Tadataka.
To get to Sawara required catching the Keisei train to Narita City and a short walk across the street and around the corner to the JR Narita Station where I caught the JR Narita Line local bound for Choshi and five stops later I arrived at Sawara. Just a block away from Sawara Station is a tourist information center where I obtained a map of the town showing the route to walk along the canal past many wonderful old wooden buildings still in use as shops and restaurants and homes.
My destination was the Ino Tadataka Museum and former residence of Japan’s great cartographer. A few years ago I saw some of his maps in an exhibit at the Ueno Museum and I had wanted to visit his home town ever since. He was born in 1745 and did not start his geographical career until the age of 40 or so having acquired financial success as a merchant in Sawara. After he proved his abilties in astronomy and surveying work by producing very accurate maps the Tokugawa Shogunate decided to support his expeditions around Japan and production of a complete map of the country that was eventually published after his death in the atlas of Japan known as “Dai Nihon Enkai Yochi Zenzu.” The small museum tells the story of Ino’s life and work and across the canal from the museum is his home preserved as a museum as well.
As I crossed one of the “twelve bridges” in Sawara town I saw people riding on canal boats called Sappa-bune that carry tourists now instead of trade goods. Then I checked out some gift shops in really old buildings and found an ice cream shop that had just run out of Macha Tea Ice Cream. I got a chocolate cone instead and returned back to the station to head into Tokyo. It was well worth the trip and I returned the way I came to get my luggage and catch the Skyliner at 6:45pm getting to my hotel in Tokyo about 8 pm.
The next morning I walked around Shinobazu Pond and over to the University of Tokyo campus to meet an old college friend from Waseda University days. Daniel Foote is now professor of law at the University of Tokyo and the first foreigner to receive tenure in the law school of Japan’s most prestigious university. We caught up on things over lunch and I left Dan to his study of legal reform and caught the train from Ueno to Urawa where I met Wacom colleagues and spent the week in business meetings.