One Place Name at a Time™
Thank you for checking out my nerdy, little corner of the internet. I’m really glad you’re here.
I put a lot of time and effort into this website. I do it for free when I have time. And it’s 100% a labor of love. I just hope my passion for Japanese History and Culture is infectious. I want you learn, love, and share it too!
I started this website as a personal blog in 2008, but since then it’s taken on a life of its own. The articles got more serious. I became more confident to go down rabbit holes. Along the way, I think I’ve created a completely unique space here.
JapanThis! has brought me a lot of awesome opportunities. I’ve discovered there are a lot of other Japanese history nerds out there. I’ve become friends with many of them. I’ve made connections all around the world and hobnobbed with intellectuals and scholars. I’ve drunk with my fair share of brilliant kindred souls. I’ve lectured at history museums, consulted on commercial and government tourism projects, and participated in a number of documentaries about the Edo Period.
It’s been a trip!
There’s a lot of Edo left in Tōkyō.
You just need to know where to look and what you’re looking at.™
I’m constantly talking about a concept called 江戸東京 Edo-Tōkyō. This is because Japan’s capital has a double life (some might say a triple life or quadruple life). No living person has real memories of Edo, even though Edo is the city’s true name. Since time immemorial until 1868, people called this area Edo. Tokyo is 150 year old concept. That said, there is a continuum, and that’s where my website lives.
I strive to bring the world of Edo and the world Tōkyō together. It’s hard to do, but I just try to explore one neighborhood at a time. It’s amazing how some districts have changed completely and others, not so much.
If the Great Kantō Earthquake destroyed Edo,
the Firebombing nailed its coffin.™
Although it is an old capital, there are many reasons why Tōkyō doesn’t look like other ancient cities like Rome, London, or even the Japanese imperial capital of Kyōto. But I would argue, it has a lot in common with those cities. Those cities just never changed names.
Also, those capital cities also weren’t utterly decimated twice in a 25 year period.
In becoming Tōkyō, especially the Tōkyō that most of the world recognizes today, the capital seems to have sold a lot of its soul. Even many Japanese don’t think of it as a traditional Japanese city. It’s Tōkyō – modern and exciting, the seat of government, Asia’s first “modern” city. For foreigners and visitors to the city, its history is unknown or vague at best. That said, there is so much of Edo to see and experience in Tōkyō. When I walk these streets, I feel like I’m walking in the footsteps of history while breathing the same air, enjoying the same sunrise and moon, and participating in the same rituals the people of Edo did.
That’s so exciting to me!
Thank you for learning more about me. I hope you learn more about Japan through me and I hope I learn more about you in the comments. Or feel free to contact me personally.
– Marky Star
Need Something Else?
- If you’re interested in the early history of JapanThis!, please check out my 2013 interview with Metropolis Magazine.
- You might also enjoy Linda Lombardi‘s article “Niche Tours of Hidden Tokyo Reveal Grit and History” which features one of my Tōkyō walking tours (Associated Press).
- If you are an author or a publisher and would like to request a book review, please see this page.
- For guided tours (private, group, institutions, etc.), documentary stuff, and location scouting, please contact me here.
About Copyright, Quoting, Reposting, Stealing Research, 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 a few instances where various individuals just straight up copy and pasted huge sections of text (and in one case, an entire article) on to their own blog. WTF?
There also have been a lot of “journalists” writing in the Anglosphere where I know my articles are the only source for such information in English. Look, I’m giving away this stuff for free here, so the least you could do is give me a shout out or link back to my site. You may be salaried, but I earn about $20 a month on this website. So, just be cool, OK?
We probably work better together if you engage me, instead of just biting my shit lol
Go for it! Share Away on Social Media!
If you like what you read here, I encourage you to share! I have options to share to most major social media platforms (for example, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) at the bottom of each article. Share, share, share!
If you want to quote an article, reprint or repost a full article, contact me. I’ll probably always 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.
29 thoughts on “About Japan This!”
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?
The Ramen Rater
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.?
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?
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.
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.
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!
Aw, thanks man! I’ll have a go at your questions tonight or tomorrow. Is there a deadline?
Nope, no deadline.
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.
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！
Really enjoy the site, great for reading on the commute into Marunouchi on the packed Chou-sen.
How about an episode on Kappamachi/Kappabashi?
Thanks for the comment, kind words, and suggestion.
I think that’s a great idea. I just added it to my to-do list! Thanks!
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.
I came across your website via a friend of mine, really like what you are doing… Really impressive.
So unique! Love your site!
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.
this is the most detailed about i ever read! (also the best about actually)
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 …
Howdy. You’ve disappeared for a while. I hope everything is okay.
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!
We will be looking forward to your upcoming posts. And it’s been a while. Hope you’re enjoying your holidays as well. Stay strong and safe.
Thanks! I wish the same to you and all my readers. Will be back in action as soon as I’m back in Japan.
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
Thanks for the kind words and thanks for bringing your book to my attention. I’ll have a look! 👀
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.
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.
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.
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 😀
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.
I just read your explanation of the Kojiki etc. Suddenly Murakami’s Kafka on the shore takes on a new layer of understanding. I missed the part of the entrance stone in Kojiki. Chamberlain’s translation is awkward (and prudish) so I have not read all of it.
Thank you very much indeed. Someone else pointed out to me that ‘Crow’ is really a modern tengu.