From the south exit of Kokubunji Station, in Tokyo’s western reaches, a geographical rift propels me downhill, into the depths of the area’s history.

Where the slope levels off, I find a narrow canal of pellucid waters spanned by a small, nondescript stone bridge; dubbed Ishibashi back in 1745. Locals erected a monument in 1832 to thank the bridge’s stones for allowing pedestrians to tromp on them, and also to request that the gods prevent diseases and plagues from crossing into their village. Another memorial boulder nearby is dedicated to Fudo Myoo (a Buddhist deity, also known as Acala), and this, a nearby signboard reads, might account for the current name of the bridge: Fudobashi.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.