Sunpu Ninety-six Towns” refers to the townscape where the foundations were laid during the Imagawa period and developed during the Tokugawa period.

The ninety-six towns along the old Tokaido highway were the center of many people’s gatherings.

What is Sunpu?

Sunpu, a shortened form of Fuchu in Suruga Province, is the city where the national government of Suruga Province was located.

The name is an abbreviation of Suruga Province Fuchu, but it was called Sunpu or Fuchu for a long time after the Ritsuryo period and until modern times, and during the Edo period, the name Fuchu simply referred to Sunpu.

After the Meiji era, the city showed its reverence to the new government because it was associated with the Tokugawa family.The name was changed to Shizuoka after the city’s Mount Shizuhata.

This is the area that forms the center of Aoi Ku in Shizuoka City.

What is Suruga Province?

Suruga Province is the former name of the country that covers the central and eastern parts of Shizuoka Prefecture.

It was bordered to the west by the Land of Totoumi and to the east by the Land of Izu.
In ancient times, people only needed to know the names of places within their own sphere of activity, and it was the central government that needed extensive country names.

Totoumi was the name of the distant Omi, the Sea of Danube (Totsu Awaumi → Totsu Oumi Tohotoumi). (Awamia is Lake Biwa.)
The name of the country is said to have originated from the fact that the flow of the Fuji River is extremely fierce and swift.

History of Sunpu

During the Ritsuryo period, the provincial government of Suruga Province was established and it became the center of Suruga Province.
Although no kokufu has been found, the most likely location is near Hase Town, Aoi Ward, located on the north side of Sunpu Castle.

Sunpu flourished as the castle town of the Imagawa clan from the Muromachi period to the Warring States period.

The Imagawa clan built the city of Sunpu on the model of the capital of Kyoto, and even today the names of places and towns are the same as those of Kyoto.
Many court nobles and cultural figures who fled the devastation of the capital of Kyoto moved to Sunpu, and the area was called “the capital of the eastern provinces” or “the capital of the eastern provinces,” where the Imagawa culture, one of the three major cultures of the Warring States period, flourished.

However, after the defeat of Imagawa Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, the Imagawa clan fell into decline and Sunpu was burned to the ground and temporarily devastated by Takeda Shingen’s attack on Suruga.

Later, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who spent his childhood in Sunpu as a hostage of the Imagawa clan, established Sunpu as his home in 1585, built the castle, and restored the city to its former prosperity.In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu was transferred to the Kanto region, and Nakamura Kazuuji under Toyotomi Hideyoshi entered Sunpu, but after establishing the Edo shogunate, Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to go into hiding and once again resided in Sunpu Castle.

Masufu Ninety-six towns

During the reign of the great lord Ieyasu in Sunpu, a town called “Sunpu Ninety-six Towns” was developed and the population was said to be 100,000 or 120,000, making it a metropolis on par with Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka) and Edo (150,000).

The term “Sunpu Ninety-six Towns” is commonly used in various documents on towns in the Edo period, such as “Sunpu Kueki”, “Sunkoku Zasshi”, and “Suruga Kokushi Hoi”.

This term refers to the total number of towns when the town was divided (urban development) in 1609, the year after Tokugawa Ieyasu entered Sunpu Castle as the great lord.It is also the generic name for the Sunpu Castle family.Craftsmen, merchants, and other townspeople were assigned to each castle town according to their occupation.
There are some ancient town names dating back to the Nara period and some from the Imagawa period.

The name of the town conveys the philosophy of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, who bet on the creation of a new castle town based on Fuchu, which was built by the warlord Imagawa clan.

The Keicho town layout was a major land readjustment project. It stopped the cul-de-sac style of the Warring States period and created a Kyoto-style (grid) corridor, which is the foundation of Shizuoka City today, more than 400 years later.

The population of Sunpu at that time was said to be 100,000 or 120,000, making it a major city on par with Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka) and Edo (150,000).

The names of towns from this era are still preserved in Shizuoka City in a coherent manner and are a valuable cultural asset.