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Ōedo Line: Ueno-Okachimachi & Shin-Okachimachi

In Japanese History on June 11, 2015 at 7:26 am

上野御徒町
Ueno-Okachimachi (Ueno-Okachimachi)

Okachimachi

Okachimachi

This is a combination of place names to create a new station name. It’s derived from 上野 Ueno[i] and Okachimachi[ii]. Exploring the Ueno area can literally take a whole day. Keep reading, I’m going to go into a little more detail.

Just follow this straight ahead and you'll Okachimachi. Soon thereafter you'll find Akihabara,

Just follow this straight ahead and you’ll Okachimachi. Soon thereafter you’ll find Akihabara,

新御徒町
Shin-Okachimachi (New Okachimachi)

御徒 o-kachi were among the lowest ranks of 旗本 hatamoto direct retainers of the shōgun. They were so low that they were even allowed to ride horses[iii]. They didn’t even have their own homes. They lived in barracks towns until they married up in rank or sold their samurai status to become merchants. Even though this area looks cheap, that’s a veneer it acquired in the Shōwa Period when the 下町 shitamachi low city area became a black market for domestic and foreign goods. Naw, who am I kidding, it was pretty much a dump of privileged-but-broke-ass samurai and has ever since lived on as a playground for the everyman.

Which is what makes it awesome!

Good old school vibe.

Good old school vibe.

I’ve never been to Ueno-Okachimachi Station or Shin-Okachimachi Station, but I’ve been to the Okachimachi area hundreds of times[iv]. I love it. It retains its Post War charm and is a good refuge for those seeking remnants of the dying shitamachi Edokko culture. At any rate, it’s a great part of town with a lot of vibe. I highly recommend taking a stroll through the area.

I also highly recommend you read my original article about Okachimachi[v].

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This article is part of an ongoing series that starts here.

___________________________
[i] My article about Ueno.
[ii] My article about Okachimachi.
[iii] This was an issue when Henry Heusken was riding horses around Edo. It’s thought that some country samurai who also couldn’t ride horses, saw him flaunting his extra-territoriality – but in fact this was probably just a cultural difference. In the west there weren’t laws saying you couldn’t ride a horse because of your social rank. If you could afford a horse, you could ride it. This didn’t jive with the Japanese mind of the time. You can read about his murder here.
[iv] A bit of literary exaggeration. But I’ve been coming to Ueno up to 5 times a year for the past 13 years. That’s about 60 times. So… yeah… not hundreds of times. lol.
[v] Of course, I have, bitches.

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