Was Kyo-no-nanakuchi (京の七口) customs!? What is "口"(Kuchi) at the end of names for places in Kyoto.
It is found that a lot of names which have "kuchi"(口 in japanese kanji) in the end of names for places or stations in Kyoto. For example, on JR line "Tamba-guchi(丹波口,)" on subway "Kurama-guchi(鞍馬口,)" places like "Kojin-guchi(荒神口,)" "Awata-guchi(粟田口,)" etc.
At these check point, shogunate government took toll charge and imposed a tax on imported goods,then they saved it as their financial resource. The most famous story is about Tomiko Hino who is a wife of Yoshimasa Ashikaga, 8th shogun in Muromachi period. She is known for greedy woman. She earned much money by lending samurai money which was toll charge taken from people. Accordingly it triggerd a battle of Yamashiro-no-kuni-Ikki.
Also, Nanakuchi was strategic point for military.
In 1591, Hideyoshi Toyotomi started making innovation of Kyoto by building mounds (Odoi) to surround central city (Rakushu.) The mounds were 3 meters height and like a castle wall, from north, Kita-Oji to south, Kujo and from east, west bank of Kamogawa to west, Nishi-Oji, they fortified central city. These mounds divided Kyoto into central city and the others.
This is remains of Awata-guchi which is the most important checkpoint connects Edo and Kyoto, and leads to Tokai-do, Tosan-do and Hokuriku-do. It became gate of Shirakawa elementary school. Stone pillar remains beside.
* Do means street in this use of japanese.
Awata shrine near Awata-guchi is known for gurdian god for travelers beacause people who come and go on Tosan-do and Tokai-do used to pray for safety along the way.
Every place of Nanakuchi monuments still exist like this at most of the places, Nanakuchi.
The monument at Kurama-guchi located in western side of Izumoji-bashi, Kamogawa.
"Izumo-ji" the name came from "a way to Izumo" I thought, but it came from a group which moved from "Izumo" and stayed in here.
The monument at Tamba-guchi. At check points called "kuchi or guchi," there was a sign saying "Rakuchu (central city) from here." Also, this monument says "Get off a horse."
A rigorous check was usual when you entered and exited central city (Rakuchu.) It was obviously ristricted for people to go into the city and bring some goods. It is much different from present day.
Monument at Awata-Guchi, Shirakawa (former Awata) elementary school
Address: 52-4 Sanjo-bocho Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto city
Access: 5min. walk eastward from Subway Tozai Line Higashiyama station
Monument at Kurama-guchi
Address:Izumojidate motocho Kita-ku, Kyoto city
Access: Near Izumojidate-bashi stop (City bus)
Monument at Tambaguchi
Address: Sujakubumki-cho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto city
Access: 10min. walk from JR Line Tambaguchi station
Author/Hiromi Hirabayashi Photo/Takashi Ota, Hiromi Hirabayashi