Friday, November 27, 2009

Iroha-Saka Highway in Japan - 1950s

It's not often that I happen upon vintage Japanese postcards here in Italy so I my eyes were quickly drawn to this uncirculated 1950s postcard when I saw it the other day on a market stall. There are no indications as to the postcard publisher or the date of issue, but from the style of the bus winding its way up the Iroha Slope to Nikko I'm guessing it's a mid 1950s to early 1960s card at the latest.

As luck would have it I have an email friend - Gaye Rowley - who lives in Japan and is an expert on all things Japanese. She explained a little more about the name of the road - I-ro-ha are the first three letters of the Japanese syllabary, so the name of the highway would be like the "A-B-C Slope" in English. It is so called because there are as many twists and turns in the road as there are letters in the syllabary!

Gaye was also able to translate the text in the bottom right hand side of the postcard:

Nikko, Iroha Slope
From Umakaeshi (meaning "the place on a mountainside where the horse can no longer carry you and you have to dismount") up to Chuzenji (a famous temple), there is a modern sealed road called "Iroha Slope" because of its twists and turns. During the maple-viewing season, it provides the best views in Nikko.

Thanks Gaye!

Find more vintage postcards at Marie's Cpaphil Vintage Postcard Blog and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.


Beth Niquette said...

That is a totally cool postcard. I enjoyed reading your post today--thank you for sharing! Happy PFF!

Christine said...

So, did I understand correctly...Umakaeshi translates into an entire sentence? I love old Japanese postcards. I have a lot of them. They're beautiful, but I don't usually post them because I often don't have a clue what they are.

Beth Niquette said...

Thank you for letting me know about Annee! How funny is THAT?! Thanks for letting me know.

Mary said...

I lived in Japan from 55-57, so it is fun to see something that may have been current then.


Happy PFF.

Postcardy said...

I never see old Japanese postcards. The bus looks a lot like our school buses which haven't really changed much in the last 50 years.

MrCachet said...

I spent just over a week in Tokyo in September of 1970. I didn't purchase any postcards, and probably should have!

Sheila said...

I don't believe I've ever seen vintage Japanese cards though I'll admit I've never really looked. I'm told postcards aren't especially popular in Japan and not so easy to find, though I've no idea how true that is.

Margo said...

very interesting card. I love the way "I-ro-ha" sounds so exotic but means something as simple as "a,b,c".

Irene said...

How interesting, a Japanese postcard in Italy.