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What does Mita mean?

In Japanese History on March 31, 2013 at 11:42 pm

三田
Mita (3 Fields)

Mita is home of Tokyo Tower and some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Tokyo.

Mita is home of Tokyo Tower and some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Tokyo.

It’s another busy day, so I chose 三田 Mita (3 Fields) because I thought it would be easy.
Turns out, this one isn’t as cut and dry as I’d thought.

And it’s kinda complicated….

According to the 10th century book, 和名類聚抄 Wamyō Ruiju-shō (Japanese Names for Things), there was a place here written 御田 Mita. (It’s referred to as 御田郷 Mita-gō, the 郷 gō just means “hamlet” or “small village”). That place name was originally written 屯田 Mita and fell under direct control of the Emperor and his court before the Taika Reform (645). 屯田 was specifically used for production of rice for the Imperial Court in Kyōto.

The Taika Reform enacted sweeping land reforms and it makes sense that place names might change as the use of land changed. For a little while, the area was then used as a 神田 shinden (a rice field affiliated with a shrine), with the rice and/or its proceeds going to 伊勢神宮 Ise Jingū Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture. The kanji 神田 can also be read as mita.

The movie

The movie “Always” takes place in Mita in the 1960’s.

By the middle of the Edo Period, the area was coming to be increasingly written as 三田, which you have to admit is a helluva lot simpler than the older ways. The reason is most likely that 御田 can be read as oden, onta, onda, and mita, while 神田 can be read as shinden, kamita, kanada, kada, kanda, kōda, and mita三田 also has variant readings, but is usually read as mita.*

And here I thought I was gonna get off easy, like Gotanda. I didn’t plan on reading up on the Taika Reforms!

Tsunazaka (Tsuna Hill) in the Edo Period. (the building on the right is the lower residence of Hizen Shimabara Domain)

Tsunazaka (Tsuna Hill) in the Edo Period.

Tsunazaka (Tsuna Hill) in the Now Period.

Tsunazaka (Tsuna Hill) in the Now Period.

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*Some variant readings include: sanda, sata and mitsuda. There’s a Sanda in Hyōgo Prefecture.

  1. Those before and after pics are crazy. The area still looks the same.

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