Shukuba (posting stations) (宿場)

Shukuba refers to urban areas that were established mainly during the Edo period along the Go-kaido Road (Edo Five Routes) and Wakiokan (secondary route that connected the Five Routes) to look after officers who transported luggage from one post station to another. Also referred to as shukueki, they had been maintained as post stations under the system of 'Eki' (staging posts on the kaido) and Tenma (post-horses) since the ancient and medieval times, the Nara period, and the Heian Period.

In addition, towns that were built around shukuba were referred to as shukuba-machi.


Shukuba during the early-modern times were developed by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA after the Battle of Sekigahara, and it began on the Tokai-do Road, then the Nakasen-do Road, and had continued one after another. In 1601, 53 shukuba from Shinagawa to Otsu were established along the Tokai-do Road, and it was here that the Tokaido Gojusan-tsugi (Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido) originated. However, they were not established all at once, but were developed one by one, and it was 1624 when the last Shono-juku was completed.

Shukuba always had designated riders and horses available that would work in relays for official transportation, and when they ran short, sukego (labor which was imposed on neighboring villages to help the primarily imposed village) was sought. In addition, toiyaba (administration office), honjin (officially appointed inn), and waki honjin (sub-honjin) were established for court nobles and samurai to stay and rest. Increasing profit by these official services and business was difficult, but the Edo shogunate made efforts in preserving and developing shukuba by granting various privileges such as Jishimenkyo, distribution of rice as various salary, and loans. Hatago (inns), kichin yado (cheap lodging houses), chaya (teahouses), and shops for civilian travelers also stood side by side, and they earned profit out of the stay, crossing of the travelers, and transportation of goods. There was also a place to put up Kosatsu (street bulletin board).

After the Meiji period, the traffic situation changed due to the start of railway service and so on, and shukuba declined as passengers decreased.

Toiyaba (administration office)

Performed tasks such as providing men and horses to work in relay and gathered sukego.


Samurai and court nobles stayed and rested. It was not accommodations for commercial purposes, and residences of the wealthy in the area were often appointed as honjin.

Waki honjin (sub-honjin)

It was accommodations for samurai and court nobles that were secondary to honjin, but lodged civilian travelers when rooms were available.

Hatago (inns)

Accommodations with meals for civilian travelers.

Kichin yado (cheap lodging houses)

Accommodations with cooking facilities for civilian travelers.

Chaya (teahouses)

Rest houses for travelers where tea, simple meals, and alcohol were sold.

Shoten (stores)

Shops for travelers.


Places to put up a notice board on which bans and notifications from bakufu were written.


Places bent like a crank at both ends of the kaido (road) in a shukuba. These were a kind of chicane to intercept external enemies.

Kido (wood gate)

They were set up at both ends (around mitsuke) of a shukuba, and the area between the kido was regarded as a shukuba-machi. Other than kido, some shukuba-machi had lights that lit all through the night. In most cases, kido were closed at night for security reasons.

Preservation and restoration of shukuba
Nationally-selected Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings
Ouchi-juku on the old Aizunishi-kaido Road (Shimogo-machi, Minami Aizu-gun, Fukushima Prefecture)
Unno-juku on the old Hokkoku-kiado Road (Tomi City, Nagano Prefecture)
Narai-juku on the old Nakasen-do Road (Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture)
Tsumago-juku on the old Nakasen-do Road (Nagiso-cho, Kiso-gun, Nagano Prefecture)
Seki-juku on the old Tokai-do Road (Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture)
Kumagawa-shuku on the old Saba-kaido Road (Wakasa-cho, Mikatakaminaka-gun, Fukui Prefecture)
Hirafuku on the old Inaba-kaido Road (Sayo-cho, Sayo-gun, Hyogo Prefecture)
Ohara-shuku on the old Inaba-kaido Road (Mimasaka City, Okayama Prefecture)
Chizu-shuku on the old Inaba-kaido Road (Chizu-cho, Yazu-gun, Tottori Prefecture)
Wakasa-juku on the old Wakasa-kaido Road (Wakasa-cho, Yazu-gun, Tottori Prefecture)
Ishibe Shukuba no Sato (restoration of Ishibe-juku Station) on the old Tokai-do Road (Konan City, Shiga Prefecture)

[Original Japanese]