宇津ノ谷峠(藤枝側)Tsuta no Hosomichi, the “ancient road of literature” admired by many famous literary figures

Tsuta no Hosomichi (“The Narrow Road of Vines”) is a road crossing over Utsunoya Pass that was used from ancient times to the Middle Ages. It became widely known in Japan because it was featured in “The Tales of Ise”, written by Ariwara no Narihira in the early Heian Period. “The Tales of Ise” includes a poem written by the protagonist Narihira at Tsuta no Hosomichi crossing over the Utsunoya Pass, “On the mountainside of Utsu in Suruga, I can see you neither in waking life nor in my dreams.” This poem is understood as expressing the protagonist’s feelings for a loved one whom he cannot meet because they are so far away, inspired by the lonesome scenery of Utsunoya Pass, which is thick with vines and maple trees and not a person in sight. Many poets and noblemen were entranced by this sorrowful poem and the events behind it. “Tsuta no Hosomichi” became quite famous as a place with poetic associations (utamakura), and many poems were written about it thereafter. The uniquely lonesome atmosphere and scenery of Tsuta no Hosomichi are featured not only in waka poems, but also in the world of kabuki plays and ukiyo-e art.

Tsuta no Hosomichi Park has a monument introducing famous poems composed there. It is well worth taking a hike along the pass while reminiscing about the poems written here.

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