Gyotoku, the town of salt and Mikoshi
Gyotoku, as the largest salt producing area on the shores of Edo Bay in the Sengoku era was further developed to demonstrate characteristics of the first ‘Gyotoku salt industry’ in the eastern provinces by Ieyasu Tokugawa. He encouraged the protection of the salt industry because “salt is the most important commodity for the military” in the Tokugawa Shogunate territory.
In 1632 (Kanei Era), the Onagi and Shin Rivers were developed for transporting salt. Edo castle and Hon-Gyotoku were directly connected by boat by the Edo, Naka and Sumida Rivers.
After acquiring the exclusive rights for this route in Hon-Gyotoku, a port was made, and the “Gyotoku Ship” and “Nagato Ship”went into service. Hence human passengers and other supplies were transported in addition to salt.
From the Bunka-Bunsei Era (approx. 1804-1830 CE), it became popular to worship at the Naritasasn temple in Edo, and Gyotoku was booming as a port town and shukuba(→a post town where an inn was located in ancient Japan).
This area was called “Gyotoku-Senken-Tera-Hyakken”as there were many temples and shrines. Buddhist artisans, shrine carpenters and furniture makers gathered together and created a local manufacturing industry with their combined skills.
About 80 percent of the total number of Mikoshi were produced in Gyotoku, and about 43 Mikoshi were produced each year at around 1955 when it was at its peak.