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LastUpDate: April 1, 2013
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Hakata Culture vol.74


Karatsu Kaido: A Major Artery for Ancient Travelers


Karatsu Kaido: A Major Artery for Ancient Travelers image

A series of roads, or kaido, were built throughout Japan in the Edo Era for both feudal lords trekking to Edo and regular travelers. The most famous road in Kyushu was the Nagasaki Kaido, but there was also another road that ran through Fukuoka City: Karatsu Kaido. The road connected Karatsu in Saga prefecture to Kitakyushu via Hakata, and it was used by the lords of the Fukuoka and Karatsu domains for their trips to Edo. There were five rest areas along the Karatsu Kaido that now lie within the Fukuoka city limits: Hakozaki, Hakata, Fukuoka, Meinohama and Imajuku.


In fact, some experts think this road was in use well before the Edo period. They speculate that it was used by people coming from and going to the Asian mainland in ancient times, thereby serving as a conduit through which Chinese culture spread throughout Japan. The Karatsu Kaido was also an important defense against the Mongol invasions of the late 13th century, and it is said that Hideyoshi Toyotomi marched down the road for his attempted invasion of Korea.


Unfortunately, almost no signs of the old road remain within the city limits of Fukuoka, but many old historic sites, shrines and temples that once lined the road still exist today. There are also some areas along the old route where even machiya (Kyoto-style townhouses)―a rarity in Fukuoka―remain. These include the shopping districts of Hakozaki and Maidashi, the area of Hakata near the Ishidobashi Bridge, Kuromon, Tojinmachi and the shopping district of Nishijin.


Among these old station towns, Meinohama is actively engaged in community development based on the Karatsu Kaido. Local residents established the Karatsu Kaido Meinohama Community Development Council to invigorate the community while working to preserve machiya and the history of the old road. The Council's base is the Maizuru Miso shop, an Edo-era machiya that is now used as a gallery and concert space. Two machiya in Meinohama have been designated as Registered Cultural Properties of Fukuoka City under the city's newly established heritage registration system. The Council also runs local guided tours and various other events, and all are welcome to attend.



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古代から人々の往来を支えた唐津街道

 大名の参勤交代や一般の旅行者のために、江戸時代に整備された全国各地の街道。九州では長崎街道が有名ですが、福岡市内を通る街道もあります。それが唐津街道です。北九州を起点に博多を経由して佐賀県唐津市に至る街道で、福岡藩や唐津藩の参勤交代にも利用されました。現在の福岡市内には箱崎・博多・福岡・姪浜・今宿の5つの宿場町がありました。

 この街道は江戸時代だけでなく、かなり昔から人々の往来に使われていたと考えられています。古代には大陸と行き来する人々が利用し、この道を通じてさまざまな大陸文化が日本各地へもたらされました。中世には日本へ攻め入る元(蒙古)の大軍を防衛するための重要な拠点でもありました。また朝鮮出兵のため、豊臣秀吉もこの道を通ったとされています。

 残念ながら現在の福岡市内には、昔の街道の面影がある場所はあまり残っていません。それでも旧街道沿いには由緒ある史跡や寺社仏閣が多く残されています。また、福岡市内では数少なくなった町家が残っている地域もあります。箱崎や馬出の商店街、石堂橋を渡った先の博多のエリア、黒門や唐人町、西新の商店街などです。

 中でも、唐津街道をテーマに積極的にまちづくりを行っているのが姪浜。「唐津街道姪浜まちづくり協議会」を設立し、町家を保存し、歴史を大切にしながら地域の活性化をめざしています。拠点となっている「マイヅル味噌」は江戸末期の町家で、ギャラリーやコンサートの会場としても使われています。また姪浜地区の町家2軒が、2013年に新設された福岡市の登録文化財に指定されています。地域のガイドツアーなどイベントも多数開催されているので、気軽に参加してみてください。