The Year in Review – 2015

Medetē! Medetē! (“Happy happy! Joy joy!” In the Edo Dialect)
Happy New Year, everyone!

an kanji 2015
Japan was 安 (an) “safe” in 2015…

As has become a tradition here at JapanThis!, my first post of the year is a heartfelt ありがとうございます arigatō gozaimasu thank you very much! and a very humble 今年もよろしくお願い申し上げます kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai mōshiagemasu I’m hoping for your support this year, too!

Waaaaaaaaay back in the day, I started writing this blog because I thought it would be fun, but the real fun has been seeing that people actually read it and enjoy it. I’m honored and humbled by you, dear reader. This is my little corner of the internet and I’m so happy that you take time out of your day to come here – regularly or not – and read my ramblings about arcane aspects of Edo-Tōkyō and how they relate to Japanese History.

Katajikenai – thank you very much!

2015 was a year of ups and downs for me. Well, isn’t every year? But looking back on this year, nothing really negative comes to mind[i][ii]. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to look back at what happened here at JapanThis! over the course of 365 days. Whether you’re a longtime reader or if you’ve just started following, I hope you’ll join me in a little stroll down Memory Lane.



In the past, I covered the Graves of the Tokugawa Shōguns, the Execution Grounds of the Edo Shōgunate, the 5 Great Highways of Edo, and the series that almost killed me – until it didn’t – the Rivers of Edo. So, yeah, that river thing… It served as a launch pad for many more articles. Even though the river series was a tough one to research and write, it was rich in 浮世絵 ukiyo-e wood block prints of daily life and 写真 shashin photographs. It was also rich in 地名 chimei place names, the primary vehicle I use to explore the city. So, it should be no surprise that 2015 started off with 3 articles about bridges: Azumabashi, Suijin Ōhashi, and Eitaibashi.

Setagaya Ward is one of the biggest wards in Tōkyō. You’d think it wasn’t historical at all, but it has all kinds of history going on.

It wasn’t really intentional, but 世田谷区 Setagaya-ku Setagaya Ward can be considered a theme. It’s one of the largest of the 23 special wards and… it’s apparently awash with references to horses. In early 2015, I was most definitely fascinated with Setagaya and its obsession with horses.


Then I Did a Real Series….

Then I did something crazy. I decided to follow the entire 大江戸線 Ōedo-sen Ōedo Line station by station around the city. Normally, when people think of a train that loops around the city, they immediately think of the 山手線 Yamanote-sen Yamanote Line. However, I wanted to point out the “other loop train” first because… well, it uses the old the name of the city, 江戸 Edo. The whole series took 32 articles. Coincidentally, the other content for this year was essentially made up of 32 articles so it’s safe to say that ½ of 2015 was spent on a train. I thought this was an interesting way to go around the city. I hope to cover the Yamanote Line at some point in 2016 – maybe in the late summer.


Here’s a Simplified Thematic Breakdown of 2015


Place Name/Link

Chiyoda Ward


Chōfu City[iii]

Chōfu pt. 1
Chōfu pt. 2

Hachiōji City


Katsushika Ward


Kita Ward


Meguro Ward


Minato Ward

Fuda no Tsuji

Setagaya Ward

Baji Kōen

Shinjuku Ward


Suginami Ward


Sumida Ward

People From Honjo

Taitō Ward

Suijin Ōhashi


Articles Outside of the Usual Format

Kiyokawa Hachirō

I revisited the topic of Kiyokawa Hachirō ― arguably one of the douchiest samurai of the Bakumatsu. We looked at a little of his life and, specifically, the mystery surrounding his corpse.

Book Review
Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective

Review of a book about urbanism – compares/contrasts Kyōto and Edo-Tōkyō.

Book Review
Tokyo: From Edo to Showa

Book review of a book about Edo-(mostly) Tōkyō’s urbanism – before urbanism was cool.


Ōedo Line

Every station of a train line that loops around most of the Greater Edo Area (Ōedo).

And So Here We Are…

Setagaya Ward, Sumida Ward, and Taitō Ward got a lot of attention in 2015. From feedback I got last year, people said I didn’t focus enough on the shitamachi areas. This year, it looks like I spent most of my time there. The Setagaya thing was a pure indulgence on my part, but it turned out to be pretty interesting!

We strayed outside of the 23 Special Wards into areas like Chōfu and Hachiōji. In 2016, I’d like explore more areas outside of the 23 wards.


Hits & Misses – the Stats Game

In 2015, the blog beat its former best, 2013, both in terms of views and visitors. I’m not too concerned with what those actually mean or how they’re different. I just know that 2014 wasn’t nearly as good in both regards. Not sure what we did right in 2015, but I’m pretty happy about that. So, thank you very much. 2013 was the year the blog sort of matured, and it looks like 2015 hit another high point. I’m pretty proud of that.

2015 was a good year

Twitter is a hard one for me to follow, since they don’t generate stats the same way Word Press does. That said, I was hoping for 1,000 new followers (ie; double what I had last January) and as of now I have about 1,800 – 200 followers short of my goal. Not bad at all considering I suck at social media[iv]. I used to feel like Twitter was my mullet: all business in the front, all party in the back. But these days, I feel pretty comfortable with it[v].


The JapanThis! Facebook Group got about 200-300 new followers in 2015. On the surface, this looks bad. But considering Facebook actively suppresses posts from Groups that don’t pay for advertising, I think it’s pretty good for such an arcane page. I also get the most direct feedback via Facebook[vi].

Why do I care about these numbers? Well, it’s not about popularity or getting my ego stroked. It’s about getting exposure. I’d write the articles even if only a handful of people read them, but I’d really love it if more people who shared our passion for this subject matter had access to the blog. And while JapanThis! only appeals to a small niche group of people, the more the merrier, I say.


Patreon, Patrons, Donations: What No One Wants to Talk About (Including Me)

Lastly, donations – long time readers know that every article ends with a half-assed request for donations via Patreon[vii]. My articles are and will forever be free. The blog itself has gotten more popular, but the 5-6 people who support it financially are carrying the weight for a lot of people. My Ōedo Line series was published more frequently than my usual publishing schedule and it caused confusion and a lot of patrons reduced their contributions (or completely withdrew their much appreciated donations). There were a few good months in 2015, to be sure. However, the income generated by donations is roughly $15-$35 a month. This is a decline from 2015, when the blog averaged $50 dollars a month. Go figure. lol.

Rewarding Patrons with Videos

One thing I was nervous about was making videos for patrons. I don’t really like public speaking or making videos, I’d much rather hide behind the written word. But I made a few and it wasn’t as bad for me as I thought it would be. I’d like to have more rewards for patrons, but time is a big issue. I’ll continue making videos on and off for patrons, but if there are other things you think would be good ways thank you, let me know. I’m all ears!!!

Speaking of videos, every New Years I watch this Taiga Drama with Mrs. JapanThis. It’s silly tradition that we have. We’ve watched it so many times, we can quote whole scenes like Americans and British people quote Monty Python.

Here’s to 2016!!

Finally, I apologize for the end of the year slow down. This always happens. Things get very busy from Christmas to New Year’s for me – both at work and with family. And actually, the 2015-2016 transition has been my busiest and – in terms of days off – my shortest 正月 Shōgatsu New Year’s Holiday in a long time[viii]. But I have to say, thank you to each and every one of you for reading JapanThis!. I thank you for your support in 2015 and I look forward to exploring Edo-Tōkyō and Japanese History further in 2016.

If you have any questions, suggestions, comments (constructive, rude, or otherwise), make a comment below. I’m always happy when you interact with me.

Happy 2016!

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[i] OK, the 読売巨人 Yomiuri Kyojin Tōkyō Giants lost the Japan Series to the ヤクルトスワローズ Yakuruto Suwarōzu Tōkyō Swallows. That was pretty embarrassing. The team is called “swallows” ffs. But let’s not dwell on negative things.
[ii] OK, I spoke too soon. There was a death in the family. That’s pretty much as negative as it can get and so, technically speaking, we’re in mourning and aren’t supposed to be too festive during  正月 Shōgatsu the New Year Holiday, but it’s 2016 and old traditions are dying off.
[iii] I originally planned a 3 part series, the third one looking at 布田市 Fuda-shi Fuda City, which is possibly related etymologically to Chōfu (and definitely is geographically). Sadly, people weren’t so interested in the topic of Chōfu, so I just let the series end at 2 parts. I’ll do that 3rd article someday, but it’s not very high priority at the moment.
[iv] I think my Flickr page got 5 new followers in 2015. Hahahahahaha.
[v] My NSFW Twitter account is still active, but it’s nothing to brag about.
[vi] This is strange because most posts on there just redirect to JapanThis!
on Word Press.
[vii] There is also a BitCoin option, though I’ve only ever received one donation that way. I get a lot of requests for PayPal, but they make working with Japanese banks a real pain in the ass. If you want to contribute this way, leave a comment or contact me. The more pressure you put on me, the more pro-active I’ll be in setting it up.
[viii] Even on my days off, I’ve been busier than usual – I think going back to work will actually be less stressful lol.

7 thoughts on “The Year in Review – 2015

  1. I love reading your blog, even when sometimes the references are too arcane or when the kanji are way above my level (which tends to drop every year further away from my school days in Tokyo, now almost 50 years ago!) I enjoy the delight you take in tracking down alternative explanations for place names when you could easily get away with just giving the most obvious sounding story. Thanks for your work!

    1. Happy New Year, and thank for acknowledging that I could be getting away with easy explanations. It’s totally true. I could.

      I’m really impressed by your 50 year bond with the city. Respect!
      You witnessed a version of the city that I’ve haven’t. Wow.

  2. Love your blog. Have been reading for two years. Most fascinating. Also helps improve my Japanese. Lived in Tokyo over 50 years ago.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I’m also glad it’s educational for you. I hope you keep reading and I hope I can keep the content quality up at an acceptable level!

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