Kyo no Nanakuchi (Seven Entrances to Kyoto) (京の七口)

The word Kyo no Nanakuchi (Seven Entrances to Kyoto) was used to collectively refer to the entrances of roads leading to Kyo (Kyoto).

The locations and names of the entrances indicating the Seven Entrances are not clearly defined, because they differ depending on historical materials.

Origin of the name Seven Entrances
Although 'Kuchi' (literally meaning a mouth) --a word that refers to the entrances of Kyoto--seems to have been used to refer to the entrance in the late Kamakura period, we can see their descriptions in historical records of the subsequent Muromachi period as a seki (choking station); during the Muromachi period authorative organizations such as the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), temples, and the Imperial court (or nobles) started to establish checking stations called 'Nanakuchi no seki' at the entrances to Kyoto and other locations to levy travelers sekisen (tolls).

Some records say that a total of seven checking stations were established by the bakufu and Imperial court. For example, "Kennaiki" (diary of Tokifusa MADENOKOJI) says that the Imperial court established the following seven checking stations of Mizushidokoro (a government office) and assigned officials to levy taxes: Yase, Imamichi. Tojiguchi, Hossho-ji, Toba, Shichijoguchi, and Nagasakaguchi.

The locations of checking stations, however, differed from organization to organization.

The number of checking stations differed occasionally; check stations for taxes by Kuraryo (Bureau of Palace Storehouses) were establilshed at Awataguchi, Oharaguchi, and Shinomiyakawara in 1333, but after the Onin War they increased to include Kowataguchi, Sakamotoguchi, Kuramaguchi, Nishiguchi (Sagaguchi), Minamiguchi, Yodoguchi Settsu Akutagawa, Nasshozeki, and Tatsumiguchi.

In more recent years in the Edo period, the word 'Nanakuchi' came to be widely used to refer to entrances to Kyoto.
Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI built Odoi or embankment around Kyoto as a part of his reconstruction of Kyoto, which is considered to have helped people easily imagine the entrance to Kyoto as 'kuchi' --an opening between the walls--and contributed to common use of the word 'Nanakuchi.'

For this reason, it is believed that Hideyoushi TOYOTOMI provided seven entrances when he built Odoi, but "Sanmyakuinki" (diary of Nobutada KONOE) says that there were ten entrances. Also some claim that historical materials imply that there were extra entrances are no longer included in the entrances to Kyoto. The most widely accepted theory is that 'Nana' (Seven) does not come from the number of the entrances but from a concept of an ancient administrative division called five provinces and seven circuits (Gokishichido) -- Kyoto is the center of Gokishichido and the entrances lead to seven circuits, or provinces.

Entrances typically cited as Seven Entrances to Kyoto

Cited below are typical entrances often included in Seven Entrances to Kyoto, and are named in clockwise order from the north along with relevant information such as locations of the entrances from which roads extend and the place-names that remain to this day.

The Kurama kaido leading to Kurama ran from this entrance. The entrance of the Odoi was west of the Izumoji-bashi Bridge (the Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River water system)). The place-name 'Kuramaguchicho' remains. The road extending west of this entrance is named Kuramaguchi-dori Street.

The Wakasa Kaido (also known as Saba Kaido), a road leading to Wakasa via Yase and Ohara extended from this entrance. The entrance of the Odoi was west of the Kawaramachi-Imadegawa crossing. The place-name 'Oharaguchicho' still remains around Teramachi-Imadegawa.

Kojinguchi, Imamichi no shitaguchi
A road corresponding to the current Kyoto prefectural highway/Shiga Prefectural highway No. 30 Shimogamo Otsu Line (also known as Shigagoe, Imamichigoe, or Shirakawagoe) extended from this entrance to Lake Biwa Nishiomiji via the Shiga Pass that runs from Kitashirakawa to Sufuku-ji Temple. The name of a Kawaramachi-dori Street crossing, 'Kojinguchi' still remains. The entrance of the Odoi was west of the crossing.

The Tokaido and the Nakasendo extended from this entrance. Though Odoi was built west of Sanjo Ohashi Bridge over the Kamo-gawa River (west of the Kawaramachi-Sanjo Crossing), a check station was established on the east bank of the Kamo-gawa River in and after the early-modern age and thus the place name Awataguchi remains near Keage.
Awata-jinja Shrine located near Awataguchi has been worshiped as the 'god of departure.'

Fushimiguchi, Gojoguchi
The Fushimi kaido, which is said to have been built by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, extended from this entrance to Fushimi. The entrance of Odoi was located around Gojo Ohashi Nishizume.

The Takeda kaido leading to Fushimi via Takeda (Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City) extended from this entrance. The Takeda kaido was developed during the Edo period. The entrance of Odoi was located at Hachijo-agaru, Higashinotoin Street.

Tojiguchi, Tobaguchi
Extended from this entrance were the Saigoku kaido continuing west via Yamazaki and Nishinomiya and the Toba kaido leading to Yodo via Toba. The entrance of Odoi was located at Senbon higashi-iru, Kujo Street.

The Sanin kaido leading to Tanba via Kameoka ran from this entrance. The entrance of Odoi was located at Shichijo agaru, Senbon Street. The name Tanbaguchi continues to exist as the name of a station (Tanbaguchi Station) on the JR Sagano Line (Sanin Main Line). However, when the railway was elevated, the station was relocated north to an area south of Gojo-Senbon Crossing.

Nagasakaguchi, Kiyokuraguchi
The Nagasakagoe, a road leading to Sugisaka via Kyomi Pass, ran from this entrance. The road continuing to Shuzan and Wakasa served as a highway toward Shuzan until the opening of the Shuzan kaido (Current National Highway Route No. 162). The entrance of Odoi was located at Kyudoi-cho, Takagamine, Kita Ward.

[Original Japanese]