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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
[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.