Station #10: The Hakone Pass was the most arduous stretch of the entire Tokaido Highway. It was steep and difficult to climb, and harbored many roaming bandits. But there were spectacular views of Mt. Fuji across Lake Ashi - if the weather was clear - as in this print. It was also the location of the most feared checkpoint along the road. The "sekisho" or checkpoints were at strategic places to ensure that firearms were not smuggled in and women (wives and daughters of daimyo who were hostages) were not smuggled out of Edo. However, the pass abounded in scenic spots and hot springs resorts which were famous long before the 19th century. A section of the original rock roadway is preserved. Steve and I can attest to its difficulty.
Image Copyright: Minneapolis Institute of Art