Tokaidochu Hizakurige (Foot Travelers along the Tokai-do Road) (東海道中膝栗毛)

Tokaidochu Hizakurige is a book of comical stories by Ikku JUPPENSHA, with their first printings taking place between 1802 to 1814. The sequel, "Zoku Hizakurige" (Hizakurige, continued) was published between 1810 to 1822. It was a great hit, and it still continues to be read to this day. The main characters, Yajirobe and Kitahachi, called "Yaji Kita" together, still remain popular in the entertainment media that have their origins in this series.

"Kurige" means a chestnut-colored horse. "Hizakurige" means foot travelers who use their own legs instead of horses.

Yajirobe TOCHIMENYA, a resident of Edo Hatchobori (Chuo Ward, Tokyo) and Kitahachi, his freeloader, decide to visit Ise-jingu Shrine to get rid of their bad luck, and they travel the Tokai-do road from Edo to Ise-jingu Shrine, and further on to Kyoto and Osaka. Along the journey, the two of them compose kyogen verses (satirical tanka (poem consisting of thirty-one syllables) verses) and create puns and jokes, play pranks, repeatedly making mistakes and creating a riot wherever they go.

How the book came about
Ikku published many illustrated books of popular tales as a professional writer since 1795, but he had no major hit yet. The first edition of this book of comical stories was published by Jirobe MURATAYA in January of 1802. He got interested because Ikku offered to draw the illustrations as well as to write the final draft for printing himself, making the process inexpensive.

It was a great hit, therefore sequels were published the following year. The title of the books were "Ukiyodochu Hizakurige" (foot travelers on the road in the floating world) and "Dochu Hizakurige Kohen Kenkon" (sequel to foot travelers on the road, first and second volumes), respectively, and the name of the book became "Tokaidochu Hizakurige" from the third volume that followed. The "Tokaidochu" series ended in 1809 with the eighth volume (Sightseeing in Osaka), but there was a follow-up publication in 1814 of a volume on the inception of the trip. The prologue was written last.

Ikku traveled often to do research for his stories. However, he never saw Kyoto, and it is said that he probably used 'Meisho Zue" (encyclopedia of famous places). Many kyogen verses are included. His talent in kyogen, joruri (dramatic narrative chanted to a shamisen accompaniment), kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors), ukiyozoshi (books of the floating world), rakugo (traditional comic storytelling) and senryu (humorous or ironical haiku (poems made of five-seven-five syllables) verses) is utilized in the books. It is hard to say that there is consistency as a long story.

Ikku additionally wrote "Zoku Hizakurige" series, and Yajikita traveled on foot to Kotohira-gu Shrine, Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, Kiso region, Zenko-ji Temple, Kusatsu-onsen hot spring and Nakasen-do Road, and the book finally concluded 21 years later.

Information on publications over time is summarized using information from the first printings.

The publisher was "Tori abura-cho Murataya Jirobe" until the fourth volume. However, for volumes five through eight,"Hongoku-cho Nichome Nishimura Genroku" and "Tori abura-cho Tusuruya Kiemon" of Edo and "Shinsaibashi Karamonomachi Kawachiya Tasuke" of Osaka also participated as publishers. The publisher of the later volume on "the inception" was "Bakuro-cho Nichome kado Nishimuraya Yohachi." Tori abura-cho is present-day Nihonbashi Odenma-cho in Chuo Ward, Tokyo.

Except for the ones in "the inception" by Shikimaro KITAGAWA, most of the illustrations were drawn by Ikku himself.

In an advertisement at the end of volume eight published in 1809, the intention of 're-engraving the first volume because printing blocks have worn down' was already noted. Because the series was a big hit, there were many alternative versions that were published by engraving used printing blocks or re-engraving printing blocks. The reprinting in 1862 is known, and there were repeated reprintings since then.

[Original Japanese]