During Japan’s Edo period, an unauthorized crossing of a checkpoint was a capital crime that could lead to death by crucifixion. A few locations were exempt from this rule, and Yagiri in the Chiba city of Matsudo was one of those.
Bordering Katsushika City across the Edo river, the Yagiri area has been known for its farming of scallion and mugwort for centuries. Around the 17th century, some farmers owned land on both sides of the river, so the shogunate allowed them to cross the river border without official permission. This led to the creation of Yagiri no Watashi, or the Crossing of Yagiri.
Initially managed by the government, the crossing was taken over during the Meiji period by the local Sugiura family, who continues to run the business. It’s the only Edo-period ferry that is still in operation in Tokyo today. Though it’s been popularized by the enka song of the same name in 1976, as well as its recurring role in the It’s Tough to Be a Man film series which is set in the neighborhood, the Yagiri ferry remains less of a tourist attraction than a local public transport, a beloved icon of the historic town.