About Japan This!




Thanks for checking out my little corner of the web. I’m really glad you’ve come here. I put a lot of time and effort into this site and I’m the first to admit… it’s really nerdy. But I hope my passion for Japanese history and culture is something you share or learn to love, too. While various topics get discussed, I’m basically exploring the etymology of Tōkyō place names and then use that as a launch pad to explore the history of the area.

I’m an American living in Tōkyō for nearly 11 years now.  The first time I visited Japan, I fell in love with the Japanese people, Japanese language, Japanese history and Japanese culture. In 2008, I had a little time on my hands I decided to start this blog, Japan This!. In the beginning it had no focus. It was just a repository of thoughts and advice about Japan. But over the years, it’s taken on a life of its own. It’s my greatest passion at the moment.

If you’re interested in the history of the blog,
check out my 2013 interview with Metropolis Magazine
Shibusawa Eiichi in 1866 and then in 1867.
Shibusawa Eiichi in 1866 and then in 1867.

Update 2017: If you are a writer or blogger of any kind and you use my articles for your research, I kindly ask that you at least link to my original article or japanthis.com. This is all independently researched and much of what I write about is not common in English. Contact me in the comments or on the JapanThis! Facebook Page. I don’t bite and I’m super understanding.

Meet Edo-Tōkyō

There is a word you will see in almost every article: 江戸東京 Edo-Tōkyō. This is a concept bandied about by historians who study the history of this great city. Edo was the name of a samurai fief on the coast of present-day Tōkyō Bay. It eventually became the capital of the Tokugawa Shōgunate – the name being derived from the name Edo Castle from which the shōguns ruled during the Edo Period; this era’s name deriving from the greatness of the city. It was arguably the largest city in the world at the time and possessed the largest castle world.

Although “Edo” is quite an ancient place name, it was the hub of Japanese culture for roughly 250 years (let’s say 1600-1868 for convenience). In 1868, the shōguns were overthrown and a new imperial government bent on modernization and industrialization was established. To erase the city’s samurai past, the de factō capital was renamed to Tōkyō. That said, little changed in those early years for the average person on the street. So, when talking about the history of the city we have to consider the small fishing hamlet it once was and the mindboggling international metropolis that has become. This historical continuum is described as Edo-Tōkyō[i].


How to Use JapanThis!

I use WordPress for this site for a few reasons. The most important reason I use it is because it has an amazing search features. The current theme I use is cool and except for the default font in articles, I love it. But it may be a bit confusing for new subscribers when my articles are really long[ii].

On a computer, at the top of the page you’ll find some categories I use for reference. These include eras of Japanese history, sankin-kōtai, etc…[iii] Before 2016, I hope to update all these categories with even better reference material.


On a computer, at the bottom right hand side of the screen you’ll find a list of the most recent 50 articles, but if you use the search field located at the top of that list you should be able access more than 250 articles about Edo-Tōkyō history. So if you’re interested in, say, Tsukiji or Marunouchi, just type “tsukiji” into the search field and every article that mentions Tsukiji will come up. If you’re interested in what places where famous for drinking and whoring, just type “drinking and whoring” into the search field and every article on that topic will come up (and believe me, it’s a lot.

More recent articles have clickable footnotes that give extra information. Just click the footnote number[iv], and it will take you directly to the corresponding note. Some articles have more than 20 footnotes, so be sure to check out the additional information. Sadly, older articles don’t have active footnotes, for those articles, you’ll have to scroll manually. Sorry. But luckily, those articles tend to be shorter.


This is Nice and All, but I Can’t Find the Place Name I want to Know About…

No worries. I take reader requests! Some of my favorite topics were submitted by readers. For the time being, I’m limiting myself to the Tōkyō Metropolis. For the most part I’ve been covering the 23特別区 Nijūsan Tokubetsu-ku 23 Special Wards, but I’ve ventured out into the suburbs and country from time to time.

To contact me, you can post a comment on any article – even here, for that matter. But you can also contact me a few other ways:

JapanThis! on Twitter

JapanThis! on Facebook

JapanThis! on Flickr


If You Want to Help Support this Blog…

There are a few ways you can help out. The easiest way is to scroll down to the bottom of each article and use the share button of your choice. If you have a WordPress account, likes help out –same with Facebook.  I know not everyone can contribute money, but those who do are greatly appreciated. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this site. The easiest way to donate is via my Patreon page. I occasionally upload exclusive videos for my Patrons to say thank you. Usually they’re related to topics that come up in the blog.


About Copyright and Quoting, Reprinting, Reposting, and Sharing

All of the contents of this blog are copyrighted under US federal law (DMCA). In the past, I’ve been really lax about this because I never really had any problems. But recently, I’ve had 2 instances where 2 separate individuals just straight up copy and pasted huge sections of text (and in one case, an entire article) on to their own blog. WTF?

If you like what you read here, I encourage you to share! I have options to share to most major SNS (for example, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) at the bottom of each article. These should work on your computer and on mobile. Share, share, share!

If you want to quote an article, reprint or repost a full article, contact me. I’ll probably say “yes.” I’m a pretty reasonable guy and if you took the time to read one of my articles, you already have my respect. Just ask. If I really dig what you’re doing, I’ll even help promote you. Just ask. That’s all I ask.


run dmca

Final Word

I’m really happy you’re here. I love sharing my knowledge and these exciting stories of Edo-Tōkyō with other people. The history of this city is so dynamic and filled with stories of all kinds. Tōkyō truly is one of the most interesting cities in the world. True, most of her history has been destroyed by earfquakes and war, but recorded in her place names are echoes of centuries of culture. If you know where to look, you can put together the story of fishing village turned medieval fort turned castle town turned futuristic international metropolis. The key words are “if you know where to look” so let’s explore Edo-Tōkyō together!

Awwwwwwwwwwwwww yeah!!!!

[i] If you’re interested in what Edo means, please check out my 2013 article entitled What does Edo mean?
[ii] If anyone knows how to modify WordPress themes and wants to help me make the site more navigable, hit me up.
[iii] Smart phone view doesn’t display.
[iv] Good job! You know how to you use a mouse like a big boy. Now, to return to where you left off, click the footnote number here, and it you’ll return to the article.

28 thoughts on “About Japan This!

  1. Hi –

    My name is Hans Lienesch and I have a blog called The Ramen Rater at http://www.ramenrater.com. I’ve been reviewing instant noodles since 2002 and recently been getting a lot of attention as I’m getting up there – I just did review #435 today!
    I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a story about my little blog? I have a Top Ten list I’ve come up with and these are the best out of the 435 I’ve tried – the list is at http://ramenrater.wordpress.com/top-ten/ . Take a look?


    Hans Lienesch
    The Ramen Rater

  2. Perhaps, just a suggestion, with all the new interest in history, why not start taking photos of war sites (how they look today), memorials, etc.?

  3. Me and my wife are moving to Sasabo Japan the beginning of next month. Could you give us a heads up of what wild life is there? I heard Japan has bears, but I’m not sure if that is true. Also, what insects and plant life can we expect?

    1. Do you mean Sasebo?

      I’ve never been there myself. But the bears live in the mountains. I’ve never seen any wild bears or monkeys even in places where they’re supposedly common. There are some pretty freaking unholy insects in Japan. But most of them are just big and scary, not poisonous.

  4. Sorry for my incorrect spelling. Email me if you ever want to take a day trip to Sasebo. I play sax, trumpet, drums, bass, guitar, piano, and I sing. I’ll keep an eye out for any unholy critters. Thanks for your quick response.

  5. Hi Marky, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award! You can read a bit more about what it’s all about here.

    If you’d like to pass it along, write a new post answering the questions I pose in my post here, and nominate 11 other bloggers, asking your own 11 questions. (And if you’d rather not bother, that’s fine too!)

    Keep up the good work!

      1. I spoke too soon. After I replied to you, I checked your link to the story behind the Liebster Awards and realized what it is. I will accept and send on. But I don’t read 11 blogs so I’m going to go with the 3-5 blog rule she referred to. The under 200 readers thing is tough too… You mentioned blogs and non-blogs with higher readership than that, so I’ll apply the same liberality.

        But getting a seal of approval from you means a lot. Thank you very much.

        m(.丁.) m

        I’ll get on your questions and pass the respect on! Not sure of the etiquette of this thing (I’m bad with Twitter etiquette too), but 頑張ります!

  6. Really enjoy the site, great for reading on the commute into Marunouchi on the packed Chou-sen.

    How about an episode on Kappamachi/Kappabashi?

  7. I really enjoy the site. Plus, love the content from the posts you made. I believe you might help me with some of thee suggestions for a research investigation I’m developing, related with local government areas and merger and dissolution of municipalities of Japan (despite that I don’t have any material or tools to prepare for it yet). Lemme know if you’re interested. For now, keep up the good work.

  8. I came across your website via a friend of mine, really like what you are doing… Really impressive.



  9. Just came across an interview which may be of interest. It is with a Japanese guy names Imao Keisuke He writes about interesting place names throughout the country. One theme they take up is the unfortunate practice of renaming areas with once descriptive/curious names to ones that are more banal. One example is Nishi Tokyo.


  10. Great service! I have been frequenting Japan on business and now am at a point the word are familiar and I like to know the meaning. Most times I am at Shinagawa, take the Yamanote line and I stumbled on your blog wanting to understand what Gotanda meant and then have been swimming through your blog …
    Very interesting!!

    1. Thanks for your concern! I’m all good and well and looking forward to 2017. I will have a post coming soon with an explanation for my recent absence. Hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

  11. I just came accross your site and it’s totally amazing, I have to subscribe to your RSS feed right now! Very impressive…

    As a matter of fact, I recently self published a photobook about Japan as seen through its railways and, since we seem to share that interest, perhaps you’d like to know about it: http://donotcompute.jp/shop


  12. Hello my name is Thomas McRae and I love to mail you a copy of my short fiction novel called Pimp in the pulpit 1 & 2 it’s inspired by my family trails and tribulations but not all facts, my books is filled with drama, comedy and suspense. I guarantee you will enjoy these books and relate to them on some personal level and that is why I like to get a review from you. Pimp in the pulpit will make you laugh, cry and appreciate your own life. You can check current reviews at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com and Nikki McNamara book blog and glamadelaide.com.au owner Rod Lewis and see my interviews with Debdatta Dasgup book blog and Fiona Mcvie at authors interviews.WordPress.com and A.F Stewart owner of are you afraid of the dark blog and Eclectic Moods Blog plus Just Books Blog owner Rainne. Or listen to my online radio interviews at Artists first network radio with Tony Kay and Talk network radio with Jeff Heiser and Steve Coplon right thinking Foundation also affiliated with Talk network radio. Or go to rockawave.com enter my name Thomas McRae and see the articles about me by The Wave paper located at Far Rockaway Queens NY email me anytime thank you and GOD bless. Oh P.S check out my review plus interview with Thunder Horse Publishing courtesy of Joseph Clayton.

  13. Why do you use Sunrising flag as your logo? The Sunrising flag was the Japanese Empire military flag that threatened the United States. And Asian countries attacked by the Japanese empire despise Sunrising flag. Why do you like Sunrising flag though you despise the Nazis and Hakencrew? I don’t complain if you only like Japanese flag… do you want to put the U.S. at risk to Japanese soldiers? If you don’t, don’t use Sunrising flag as your logo any more.

    1. Actually, that’s not true. That flag is the maritime flag of Japan and it is still used today. If you stick around and read my site you’ll learn things like that.

      What you’re talking about is actually misinformation, often spread through anti-Japanese propaganda by China and Korea.

  14. Hey! Checked out your website (though there is far more checking out of it that I must do) and as a Japanese-history-wannabe-nerd, I deeply appreciate all the work you put out there.

    In a week I will start a cycle through all of Japan’s prefectures for a year, beginning with a route following the Tokaido (also fundraising for orphan homes in JP). I’m in Tokyo till Friday and would love to meet up and pick your brain or just chat! Let me know 😀

    Twitter: @ivamekki

  15. Hi there. I’m a literary agent based in Tokyo. I’m currently working on an edited book about Tokyo. I would like to discuss the possibility of your contributing, especially if you have knowledge concerning the Feng Shui (fuu sui) 風水 elements of Edo planning. Plese send me an email if you are interested to talk.

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