Why is Konan called Konan?

Kōnan (South Harbor)

Shinagawa Konan Exit
Heading to the harbor!!!

A lot of people who come to Tōkyō stay in Shinagawa. It has central access to the city by train and fast access to the Shinkansen (high speed trains) to the rest of Japan and fast access to the airports which will take you around Japan, Asia, and the world. It is also home to numerous hotels and guest houses. The area is rich in history and yet bustling with lively eateries and global businesses.

Shinagawa Intershitty
Shinagawa Intercity: One of Tokyo’s Nouveau Yamanote in the old Shitamachi

Shinagawa, traditionally a下町 shitamachi low town area famous for manufacturing, has seen a massive revitalization since 2003, when the 港南 Kōnan South Harbor area was developed and some Shinkansen routes were diverted here.

Shinagawa Station has 2 main exits; the Takanawa Exit and the Kōnan Exit.  The Takanawa Exit leads to the old town. There are hotels and department stores in the immediate vicinity and you can walk to historical sites associated with the 赤穂浪士 Akō Rōshi the 47 Rōnin, the first 宿 shuku post station of the old Tōkaidō, and all of the treasures of Minato Ward. The Kōnan Exit leads to a massive business and residential district setup on the highlands in traditional 山手 yamanote high city style and a convenient and bustling commercial district for drinking (but not whoring) in the valley below.

escalator down to the South Harbor
escalator down to the South Harbor

What you won’t see is a harbor.

In the Edo Period, Shinagawa was on the sea. As we said before, the Tōkaidō was the Eastern Sea Route to Kyōto. And it was, indeed, on the sea. 土佐国 Tosa no kuni Tosa Province had a residence in the area (Tosa being a costal domain, it makes sense) meant that Sakamoto Ryōma spent time here and most likely saw the Black Ships from Shinagawa.

whale shinagawa
As you go through the gates you can remember that this was once a harbor. They have a whale tail gate. Not so many whales in Japan now, though. lol

So why is there no sea here??

Where’d this alleged harbor go?

Landfills, baby.

From the Meiji Period until quite recently, 江戸湾東京湾  Edo Bay became Tōkyō Bay and all of this landfill extended the coastal area way out into the sea in islands linked by channels or just straight up new land mass.*

By the way, if you wanna  see some pix that go from the Shinagawa Station area and down the old Tōkaidō road, you might wanna check out this page: Shinagawa walking guide.



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* PS, In earthquake prone Japan, I don’t recommend living on any of these landfill masses.


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