Saba-kaido Road (鯖街道)

Saba-kaido Road is an historical name of the road developed for fish and shellfish captured in Reinan for delivery to Kyoto. It came to be called 'Saba-kaido (mackerel road)' because the mackerel was the most common seafood product.


The street refers to the section between present-day Obama City, Fukui Prefecture and Demachiyanagi Station, Sakyo Ward in Kyoto City, corresponding to the National Highway Route No. 27 (between Obama City and Kaminaka, Wakasa-cho), National Highway Route No. 303 (between Kaminaka Wakasa-cho and Hozaka, Takashima City) and National Highway Route No. 367 (between Kutsuki, Takashima City and Sakyo Ward in Kyoto City).
(The route to Kyoto did not follow the present-day National Highway Route No. 367 but was instead a mountain track via Omione Ridge.)
In a broader sense, any road through which seafood was carried was called the saba road.

Mackerel captured in Wakasa Bay and sprinkled with salt were said to become delicious while being carried to Kyoto overnight without sleep, and they became popular among ordinary people in Kyoto, who would wait for them. This is why the roads on which mackerel were carried came to be named mackerel roads.
Carriers kept walking without sleep, saying, 'Kyoto is only 18 li (about 70 kilometers) away.'

Today, many shops dealing in mackerel sushi are found along National Highway Route No. 367. Also, the Saba-kaido Marathon, a race that courses along the route of those days (76 km between Obama City and Demachiyanagi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City) is held each year. This race is also known as the Ultra Mountain Marathon or the Sabakaido Maranic (marathon and picnic), because the majority of the route is unpaved with dramatic changes in elevation.


Kumagawa-juku, an important preservation district for groups of historical buildings


Japan now imports large amounts of mackerel from Norway.
Some refer to the air route from Norway to Japan as 'the modern-day mackerel road.'
There is no need for concern about Anisakis (parasites) in today's mackerel because the fish is sent cooled, not salted.

[Original Japanese]