- Japanese: 興津宿 (Okitsu juku)
Okitsu is known as the setting of Oliver Statler's book Japanese Inn. The Minaguchi-ya waki-honjin (today a local history gallery) in the town was the "Inn" of the title. The town is also the site of the temple Seiken-ji, where Tokugawa Ieyasu had studied in his youth, where the Ryukyuan royal prince Shô Kô is buried, and where numerous Korean embassies had stayed overnight on their journeys to and from Edo. Genrô Saionji Kinmochi and Inoue Kaoru also maintained villas (bessô) in Okitsu, and frequently received prominent politicians and others as guests.
The post-station was home to two honjin and at least four waki-honjin.
As early as the 7th century, Okitsu was the site of the Kiyomi-ga-seki checkpoint, a significant barrier or checkpoint along the ancient Tôkaidô. The temple Seiken-ji was founded in 679 on a hill overlooking the checkpoint; the temple was reestablished as a Rinzai Zen temple in the 1260s. Its main hall today dates to 1702.
During the Edo period, as the early modern Tôkaidô highway system came into place, Okitsu became an even more active inn town, with a honjin and waki honjin serving numerous samurai, court noble, and other elites, as well as religious pilgrims and commoner travels, on a regular basis.
Okitsu Station first opened on 1 Feb 1889 as part of an extension of the Tokaido Line train line connecting Shizuoka and Tsu (both to the west of Okitsu). This line was extended to Kanbara (to the east) in 1898.
Inoue Kaoru established a villa in Okitsu in January 1896, calling it Chôjasô. Saionji Kinmochi established his in 1919, calling it Zagyosô. Today, the Zagyosô has been relocated to the open-air architecture museum Meiji Mura near Nagoya, but a reconstruction of it has been erected and is maintained as a historic house open to visitors.
The town was struck by Allied air raids in 1945, losing more than 30 buildings (including portions of the grounds of Seikenji and of the Inoue villa) in an air raid on July 6, 1945.
The Minaguchiya was first established as a waki honjin'in 1785. It operated in that fashion until 1872, owned and operated by successive heads of the Mochizuki family. In 1876, the inn joined an alliance of institutions associated with pilgrims traveling to Ise Shrine.
The inn burned down in a fire which destroyed some 30 buildings on the western side of the town on 2 Feb 1879. Many valuable inn records were lost in this fire. The reconstruction of the inn was completed on 16 August that same year.
Notable figures who stayed at the Minaguchiya on at least one occasion during the Meiji period include the statesmen Sanjô Sanetomi, Yamagata Aritomo, Inoue Kaoru, and Saionji Kinmochi; poets Ochiai Naobumi and Itô Sachio; authors Natsume Soseki, Masamune Hakuchô, Shiga Naoya, Arishima Ikuma, and Takayama Chogyû; painter Kuroda Seiki; educator and oyatoi gaikokujin Alice Bacon; and Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau Inoue Kowashi. Many of these individuals used Okitsu as a location for recuperation from illness.
Prime Minister Kiyoura Keigo, Speaker of the House Kasuya Gizô, poets Onoe Saishû and Yosano Akiko, and novelist Abe Tomoji were among those who stayed at the Minakuchiya later in the prewar era. The Shôwa Emperor (Hirohito) and Empress Kôjun stayed at the Minaguchiya for two nights in October 1957.
The inn ceased operations in 1987.
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