Hacchōbori/Hatchōbori (872.72m Moat)
(two ways to write it in the Roman alphabet, I prefer the former, Hacchōbori, but the later, Hatchōbori, is more common in the Romanization rules used in Tōkyō street signs and train signs, etc.)
I had a seriously busy weekend, but I’m trying my best to keep updating this blog Monday through Friday, saving all my free time for research. Next month, I’ll be changing projects, so my weekends will become tight. Not sure what will happen. I think I’ll still have time for updates, but please bear with me if the posts get shorter. I won’t compromise the integrity of my research into these topics, but I might choose easier place names when I have no time.
As always, I want to hear your questions and am happy to take your requests. The more of those the better, actually. I love your questions because they take me out of my own head and let me see what my readers are interested in. So please, keep ‘em coming.
Today we’re talking about 八丁堀 Hatchōbori, the Eight-chō Canal.
This is another generic place name; like Gotanda, like Ueno, like Nakano.
The place name was originally written as 八町堀. The name was made of 3 kanji: 八 hachi, 町 chō a unit of measurement (1町=109.09m), and 堀 hori (channel or moat). The station and the area is near Edo Castle, so it’s obvious that this was a reference to the castle. It’s not a defensive moat, it’s a canal. In the Edo Period the best way to transport goods within a city was often by a small boat on a canal. This canal happened to be about half a mile long. Good for it.
Why did the middle kanji 町 become 丁?
The second character is just a simplified variant of the first. Both forms are used in modern Japanese.
Most of the channel was filled in during the 50’s and 60’s, but some of it remains and still has a few boats in it.
There was an old TV show set in the Edo Period called 八丁堀ﾉ七人 Hatchobori no Shichinin The Hatchōbori Seven. I’ve never seen the show (and hadn’t even heard of it until now), but supposedly it ran for 3 years. The show featured seven “detectives” who lived in Hatchōbori. I don’t know if there’s any truth to “police” living in this area or not. But it looks like those weird samurai TV that are made for old people.