Bansho were the guard stations from which officials could keep an eye on the road and monitor traffic. They tend to be found in the larger post-towns, usually located near the masugata where all traffic was forced to slow. They housed samurai `policemen’ who insured that local regulations were enforced. They not only oversaw the post-towns in the performance of their duties (sweeping the road, maintaining it, and providing porters and horses), but they also monitored the behavior of the travelers.
Transgressions could result in trial and execution at the adjoining execution ground. The execution ground was always placed at a prominent position next to the highway with the heads and corpses left on display as a warning for all travelers to see. Passing samurai were permitted to test their swords on the criminals’ remains although the actual cut was performed by the executioner who was typically an outcaste (eta or burakumin). The regime was harsh and executions were not infrequent. In Edo, the various execution grounds are estimated to have seen an average of three executions a day or well over 200,000 public slayings during the Edo period.