Situated in the center of the Mino plain the post-town of Mieji was frequently subject to flooding in the Edo period. The disruption this caused travelers, not to mention the discomfort, led to Mieji being described as having the worst conditions of any post-town. Nevertheless, at the end of the Edo period the town could still boast eleven inns for ordinary travelers. Whether or not ‘ordinary’ travelers would stay at these inns by choice, however, is not certain. Mieji had by this time developed a reputation of some notoriety, for it was well-known as a den of wandering thieves, gamblers, and other down-and-outs. Like many frontier towns of the old West, on the other hand, there were many who were attracted by the apparent lawlessness and the plentiful ‘saloons’ and their ‘dancing girls’ (meshimori onna).
Just three miles from Mieji is the next post-town, Goto. Literally meaning ‘river crossing place’, the town is nestled under the high banks of the Nagarakawa, the largest and most famous of the rivers flowing through the Mino plain. The fame of this river is due to the cormorant fishing which takes place each night during the summer months. Indeed this is the scene Hiroshige uses to illustrate Goto in his series of wood block prints on ‘The 69 Stages of the Kiso-kaido’. Unfortunately, the town itself has not apparently benefited from the voluminous tourist trade this traditional activity generates. Never a large town, this was really a ‘stop of convenience’ for travelers who preferred to put-off the difficult river crossing “until tomorrow”. In 1815 there were just eight inns, although the number of guests could swell at times when the river itself was too swollen for a safe crossing. Today, modern flood control methods and a new bridge (half a mile downstream from the old crossing point) have taken away the trade from this town. There is little in Goto now to remind pedestrian travelers of old times.
The new bridge draws the quiet old highway onto the busy modern road and, once crossed, the rural landscapes of the Mino plain are left behind. Ahead, Gifu Castle, perched precariously atop the hills to the east, broods over the old post-town of Kano, tucked neatly into the valley below. Kano is a name of the past, however, since the town has now evolved into Gifu City, the capital city of Gifu prefecture.