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Archive for the ‘Japanese Sex’ Category

What does Tachikawa mean?

In Japanese History, Japanese Sex, Tokyo Rivers on April 12, 2016 at 6:51 am

(standing river)



Today’s article is a reader request. So let’s start with that reader’s message!

I love your site so much! Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge about Tokyo and Japan. I was absolutely overjoyed to stumble on Japan This!. The articles are very well-researched.
By the way, have you published anything on Tachikawa? That would be nice! Arigato! Cheers!

I love the praise and I’d like to bask in that glory for a minute or two.

“Published” is quite a big word for what I do with my silly corner of the internet, but I’ll take it! Any praise people feel compelled to hurl at me, I’ll take that too, for sure! Also, if anyone wants to hurl money at me, please go to my Patreon page and help support the site.


Anyhoo, it’s taken a while since I got that message but I’ve kept my word and today, we’re finally gonna talk about 立川 Tachikawa.

That said, I have to start this with a very particular caveat. I’m making this number up, but I’m pretty sure it’s good. I generally write 85-95% of my articles deal about areas located within the 23特別区 Nijūsan Tokubetsu-ku 23 Special Wards.

changed color

Whoa, did that thing just change colors?

Occasionally, I’ve left so-called “Central Tōkyō” and covered some other place names, but that’s been the exception and not the rule. The reason for this is simple. I live in the center of Tōkyō and the records and maps are good for these areas, especially during the Edo Period to present. Areas like 調布 Chōfu and 八王子 Hachiōji were extremely rural and even if we have good maps, there’s not a lot of local history available online. Tachikawa is located about 50 minutes[i] west of the 23 Special Wards, north of Hachiōji and west of 三鷹 Mitaka. Despite living in Tōkyō for 11 years, I think I’ve only been to Tachikawa once. I’ll talk about that later, but for now let’s dig into the etymology. What does Tachikawa mean?

Related Articles:


kanto inaka

While the term Kantō is generally associated with Tōkyō, most of the Kantō area looks like this – whether it’s Tōkyō or not…

First, Let’s Look at the Kanji

It’s a pretty straight forward place name composed of simple kanji that a first grader could easily read and write[ii].

tachi, tate

(keep in mind these 2 distinct readings)



There are a few theories about the origin of the place name Tachikawa, so shall we look at them?


The Somewhat Unhelpful and Generic Theory

This theory assumes that former path of the 多摩川 Tama-gawa Tama River or an associated tributary passed through the area long ago. By long ago, we’re talking the Heian Period or earlier. The idea being that this was a place where 川が立っていた kawa ga tatte ita a river stood. Of course, rivers can’t stand in Japanese just as they can’t in English, but the meaning is more like “a river was noticeable.” While this etymology is plausible, it doesn’t really do enough to get at the real source of the name. It really raises more questions than it answers. Was there some distinct feature of the river that was so curious that it deserved its own place name? Who knows.


The Less Unhelpful and Less Generic Theory

In the Heian Period (imagine the 1000’s), the administrative government of 武蔵国 Musashi no Kuni Musashi Province was located in present-day 府中 Fuchū[iii]. It’s said that in those days, travelers passing through the area who stayed at 府中宿 Fuchū-shuku the post town of Fuchū could see the plateau that connects the east and west sides of present day 多摩市 Tamagawa-shi Tamagawa City. That hill happens to be called 横山 Yokoyama the mountain on the side of the river. Of course, the hill was noticeable, but more noticeable was the old course of the 多摩川 Tama-gawa Tama River flowing from north to south cutting across the landscape[iv]. In Japanese, the kanji 立 tachi/dachi can be used with other kanji to mean “visible” or “stand out.”[v]  Therefore it was the “notable river” or the “river that stood out.” Thus, the river was called the 立河 Tachikawa[vi]. Whether this was considered part of the Tama River or was just a branch isn’t completely understood. Long time readers who suffered through my brutal series on the Rivers of Edo should know that before the Meiji Coup, rivers often had different names in different locations. They were thought of as local entities with unique tributaries, branches, areas, and not singular waterways with a singular name.



Some Samurai Did It

From the late Heian Period until the late Sengoku Period, a clan of local strongmen operated from a military fortress in the area. Their name? The 立河氏 Tatekawa-shi Tatekawa clan. This theory states that the name is derived from the clan name.


We Japanese history nerds tend to be obsessed with 石垣 stone walls… well, here are some stone walls left over from the Tatekawa fort.

Reinforcing this claim is the fact that in the 1350’s, the lord of this fief, a certain 立河宗恒 Tatekawa Munetsune, founded the temple 普済寺 Fusai-ji which still exists today on the remains of their old fort.  The family was active in the area until they perished with the fall of Hachiōji Castle in 1590[vii].

The existence of Fusai-ji and records confirming the existence of the Tatekawa clan make this the strongest theory, but it’s not without problems. The name of this clan is a source of confusion. Although it can be read as Tachikawa[viii], Tatekawa is the favored reading for this clan’s name. That said, from 1590-1868, without any active Tatekawa samurai in the area, it’s not inconceivable that the name could come to be read differently.



So Which is Correct?

This is a good question and it’s one that we’ve struggled with from time to time when dealing with ancient Kantō place names. In Japanese, most rural place names seem to derive from geographical characteristics[ix]. And indeed, some place names are clearly derived from what you could see from certain locations[x].

What confounds the issue sometimes is that when the Heian Period imperial court and the Kamakura Shōgunate granted fiefs to samurai, those clans started new branch families and took the name of their local fiefs. The famous example I always like to quote is the samurai of the Fujiwara clan who took the name Chichibu when given the fief called 秩父 Chichibu. Later, the samurai of the Chichibu clan took the name Edo when granted the fief called 江戸 Edo. Their ancestors were forced by Tokugawa Ieyasu to assume the name Kitami because they lived in 喜多見 Kitami when Ieyasu assumed control of Edo Castle[xi].



Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

Did the place name exist first, and the Tatekawa (or Tachikawa) clan adopted the name? This seems to have been the norm before the Edo Period[xii] and therefore the most likely theory.

Or, did the area earn its name from the presence of the Tatekawa (or Tachikawa) clan? This seems to have been rarer, but not entirely unheard of, particularly in the Edo Period[xiii].

Another option is that it’s purely a coincidence: a clan called Tatekawa could have operated near an area called Tachikawa.

And while we’re playing a magical game of “nobody fucking knows, so let’s just throw out some ideas,” how about this one? What if I told you the name could be a Japanization of a pre-existing アイヌ Ainu or 蝦夷 Emishi[xiv] place name the whole time and the Tatekawa (or Tachikawa) clan adopted that Japanized place name? If that’s the case, we may never know the origin of the name. Ouch!

To be fair, none of these etymologies are conclusive, but I will say that all of them are interesting. Not only can we explore a few possible diachronic paths Japanese place names often take, we touched on a few recurring themes that long time readers should be familiar with.


In Conclusion, What is Tachikawa Today?

I have no freaking idea to be perfectly honest. Like I said before, I’ve only come here once. But I have a friend or two from the area and I’ve visited a lot of the surrounding areas, so I can make a few short statements about Tachikawa today.

My image is that it’s a really suburban town, and while there is some train service, you pretty much need a car if you want to live out there. In short, despite being part of 東京都 Tōkyō-to Tōkyō Metropolis, this is very, very different from “Central Tōkyō.” Anyone who has spent time here or lived here, feel free to leave descriptions of the town in the comments section below.


Tachikawa is home to 昭和記念公園 Shōwa Kinen Kōen Shōwa Memorial Park. The park was a former Air Force base for the US military, but since the early 80’s it’s been a public park. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard good things about it. They have the space and distance from the city to make a really good park. In the spring, Shōwa Memorial Park is a famous 花見 hanami cherry blossom viewing spot and also holds a yearly 花祭 Hana Matsuri Flower Festival. In the summer, it’s famous for ヒマワリ himawari sunflowers… which brings me to the only time I ever visited Tachikawa; summer of 2005 – my first summer living in Japan!

I went with some friends to the レインボープール Reinbō Pūru  Rainbow Pool in Tachikawa which is located next to the Shōwa Memorial Park. Why would anyone in Tōkyō make a 50-60 minute trek by train to a distant suburb just to go swimming? Because it’s not just a pool, it’s a full on waterpark. There are no tall buildings in sight. The periphery is just greenery and blue skies. Oh, and it being a waterpark means bikini girls as far as the eye can see[xv]. This was like 10 years ago, but I have really fond memories of Rainbow Pool. One added bonus was that even though they had signs all over the place saying “tattoos prohibited,” I noticed that they let a lot of Japanese girls with small tattoos like hearts and flowers slip by. When I took off my shirt which exposed my back, which is completely covered in ink, no one batted an eye[xvi].

red oingt.jpg

Near 立川駅 Tachikawa Eki Tachikawa Station, there is supposedly a red light district that allows for all manner of drinking & whoring 24-7[xvii]. The English Wikipedia page on Tachikawa claims that it’s called Mini Kabukichō, but I can’t find anything else to back this up[xviii]. But again, I’ve only been to Tachikawa once and I did no drinking and/or whoring there, so… I’d love to hear more about this seedy side of the city. Again, feel free to leave comments below.


Tachikawa is also home to 1 of 10 remaining North Korean schools in Tōkyō Metropolis. The school is called 西東京朝鮮第一初中級学校 Nishi Tōkyō Chōsen Dai-Ichi Sho-Chūkyū Gakkō West Tōkyō North Korean Elementary & Junior High School #1[xix].


insert record scratch sound here

Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Whaaaaat?

Yes, North Korea and Japan are sworn enemies. But the 朝鮮学校 Chōsen gakkō Korean schools have operated as international schools in Japan since before WWII. In 1910, Japan made Korea part of the 大日本帝国 Dai-Nippon Teikoku Empire of Japan and many Koreans began immigrating to the Japanese islands[xx]. Many of these Korean 在日 zainichi residents of Japan sought to preserve their Korean identity and values and one way they could do that was through education. Everyone knows Japan and Korea haven’t been on the best of terms since the late 1500’s, but things got really bad in the mid-20th Century. These days, South Korea and Japan have a love-hate relationship, but things aren’t so bad. They’re actually military allies, sort of.

But North Korean schools in Japan? That’s fucked up, right?

Rather than explain it myself, here’s a brief excerpt from a 2013 article in the Economist:

Between 1905 and 1945, when Japan occupied Korea, ethnic Koreans were considered Japanese nationals. After Japan lost control of the peninsula in WWII, Koreans wishing to stay in Japan (known as Zainichi Koreans) were provisionally registered as nationals of Joseon, the name of undivided Korea between the 14th and 19th centuries. But when the North and South declared independence in 1948, the term Joseon no longer corresponded to a specific country. From 1965 Zainichi Koreans could register as South Koreans. Those who retained their Joseon nationality (rather than register as either South Korean or Japanese) became de factō North Korean citizens.

A hiccup in history produced a generation or so of people living in a political and national limbo. The question that most Japanese people (and probably most readers of this blog) are asking is, “well, if you live in Japan, speak Japanese, pay Japanese taxes, and are most likely culturally more Japanese than Korean, why not register as a Japanese citizen? Or if you really want to maintain your Korean-ness, why not just register as a South Korean?” Good questions, but…


This is a question we should probably all ask ourselves every morning…OK, probably not in the morning, but maybe during lunch.

As an American, I grew up in a multicultural, multi-racial society that encouraged integration while celebrating diversity[xxi], so I don’t know the answer to that question. It’s a very messy issue and we’re not going to save the world here today, but some of you may not have heard about these North Korean schools in Japan. I don’t want to rabble rouse, but I definitely think that this phenomenon might be an interesting note to leave on.

And you thought the etymology was complicated!

As always, feel free to leave a comment on this article, like it, or share on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. I hope you enjoyed it.


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Coming to Japan?
I conducted the coolest, geekiest, Japanese History tours imaginable!


[i] By train
[ii] I’m not saying this to be a jerk to my non-kanji reading readers, Mrs. JapanThis! is actually an elementary teacher and told me this. But that’s OK, if you learn Japanese, these kanji will be among the first you learn too.
[iii] A name which seems to mean “government center.”
[iv] Or that unnamed tributary alluded to earlier.
[v] Maybe the best example is 目立つ medatsu to stand out, literally “stand before your very eyes.”
[vi] 立河 and 立川 are variations of the same word. In many old sources, was preferred over 川. I haven’t heard any convincing arguments in terms of usage.
[vii] See my article about Hachiōji here.
[viii] Tachigawa and Tategawa are also possible readings, but are rare in the Kantō area. In Kamakura and Sengoku Period records, the name is generally recorded as 立河 which is just a variant of 立川, and so can be read as Tatekawa or Tachikawa (or any of the other variants mentioned above).
[ix]さかsaka hill, ~ –hara field, ~田 ta rice paddy are among the countless examples long term readers will be familiar with.
[x] Granted, these are quite rare, but they’re not unrepresented. The best example is ~富士見 fujimi can see Mt. Fuji which has countless examples in Tōkyō alone.
[xi] For this whole convoluted story, you need to read 2 articles: What does Edo mean? and What does Kitami mean?
[xii] But it definitely wasn’t a rule.
[xiii] But this name is clearly much older. Most indications put it at the Heian Period which means it could be even more ancient.
[xiv] The Ainu and the Emishi were essentially the same people, at least genetically, though culturally they may have been distinct. They are both descendants of the 縄文 Jōmon people – the Paleolithic first people of Japan. You can read more about them here.
[xv] And to be fair, if you’re into dudes, I suppose there’s even better “people watching” lolol.
[xvi] When my girlfriend at the time asked a lifeguard about the park’s tattoo policy, he told her that tattoos were not allowed, but the staff rarely enforced the rule and they were only on the lookout for yakuza tattoos. That’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart, and basically I have never cared about entering public baths in Japan since. But if someone says something, you have to be able to be confident and polite and explain your position in Japanese. Then it’s no problem. The whole “no tattoos” thing in hot springs and pools is somewhat negotiable in my experience.
[xvii] Because if you’re not drinking & whoring 24-7, you’re not really drinking & whoring properly, are you?
[xviii] English Wikipedia pages on Japan tend to be shit anyways.
[xix] And yes. As the name implies, there is a #2.
[xx] Some came by choice seeking economic opportunities; others were forced by military or labor conscription. It’s a really complicated issue that I’ll admit I don’t fully understand and have no intention of getting into here because it’s way outside of the scope of this article (and my blog in general).
[xxi] And America isn’t perfect, but it is diverse and most of the time it works.

What does Kameari mean?

In Japanese History, Japanese Sex on April 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

Kameari (we’ve got turtles, yo!) l_01 It’s been a few weeks since my last update and so I sincerely apologize for the delay, but I have a good excuse. My 7 or 8 year old PC, ピノコちゃん Pinoko-chan Pinoko, finally died. Loads of data, including several works-in-progress went missing. I had to buy a new computer and my new machine is Windows 8. It’s a total departure from previous incarnations of Windows, so not only am I setting up a new computer, I’m actually learning how to deal with the new OS[i]. So anyways, so much has happened since my last update. If you only read the blog, I just want to make sure that you know you can get different updates from me via Facebook and via Twitter. I treat Facebook like the Japan This Plus. I treat Twitter like Japan This On Crack. Either way, you can customize how much you want to deal with me based on those criteria. If you can’t get enough of me, then by all means subscribe to all. If prefer me in small doses, then just keep doing what you’re doing. Also, leave comments whenever you want to! I really love those.

Kameari Station

Kameari Station

OK, so let’s get into today’s Tōkyō place name. Today we’re talking about 亀有 Kameari in 葛飾区 Katsushika-ku Katsushika Ward. It’s an interesting place name because it’s easy to speculate about the etymology because of the kanji. .




existence, possession

Judging by the kanji, one would think this is a place where there were many turtles. But you’d be wrong. First of all, it’s 亀有 kameari not 亀居 kamei. Anyone who’s studied even a little basic Japanese knows that the language makes a distinction between the existence of things that move 居る iru be and things that don’t move ある aru be so this rules out turtles being in the area. Aru can be used for possession, though. So if you guessed “having turtles” people wouldn’t fault you and you might be in line with what people generally think when confronted with the name. However, it seems that this is not actually the case. There’s a bit of mystery here.

cute turtles    .

What We Do Know?

The place was originally written 亀無 Kamenashi “turtle” “without/not having” and 亀梨 Kamenashi “turtle” “Japanese pear.”
The name was mysteriously changed in 1644 to 亀有 Kameari turtle having.


The first theory that I came across, seems plausible. The story goes that there were no turtles here (or even if there were, they weren’t the source of the name). The name is actually a reference to the shape of the terrain. This is something we see time and time again in place names (valleys, mountains, plateaux, hills, slopes, etc.). We don’t just see this in Japanese place names, but all over the world[ii].

Anyhoo, this theory suggests that at the confluence of the 古隅田川 Ko-Sumida-gawa Old Sumida River[iii] and the 葛西川 Kasai-gawa Kasai River there was a mound – built up over time by the accumulation of detritus from the rivers. The shape and the colors of the foliage on the hill made it look like a turtle’s shell. This theory purports that the origin of the name was 亀を成し kame wo nashi making a turtle/turning into a turtle. By scribal error (or a later adjustment) 亀成 became 亀無 Kamenashi having no turtles – perhaps it was easier to read. Reality check. Just for the record, 亀成 Kamenashi “making a turtle” isn’t an attested form.



The deus ex machina for this legend is that the local villagers thought the spelling was inauspicious. Well, everyone knows that having a bunch of turtles is so much better than not having any turtles at all. Nobody wants to look like a bunch of losers with no turtles. Rather, they were the people who had turtles. Lots and lots of turtles. All of the turtles because… who the fuck knows? So they asked the shōgnate to change the name from 亀無 Kamenashi (no turtles) to 亀有 Kameari (we got fuckloads of turtles up in this biatch).

This sounded fishy, so I had to go digging around a little more. My first stop was 亀有香取神社 Kameari Katori Jinja Kameari Katori Shrine[iv]. They claim that the name first appeared in the Kamakura Period.




This was easy to verify, as the words 亀梨 and 亀無 Kamenashi are first mentioned in 2 documents. The area is referred to as 下総国葛西御厨亀無村 Shimōsa no Kuni Kasai Mikuri Kamenashi Mura Kamenashi Village, Kasai Mikuri, Shimōsa Province in 1398 in the 下総国葛西御厨注文  Shimōsa no Kuni Kasai Mikuri Chūmon Shimōsa Province’s Kasai Mikuri Annotation[v], a document of the Kamakura Shōgnate. It was mentioned again in 1559 in the 小田原衆所領役帳 Odawara Shū-Shoryō Yakuchō Register of the Territories and Peoples of Odawara, a document of the 後北条氏 Go-Hōjō-shi Late Hōjō Clan who controlled this area until Toyotomi Hideyoshi annihilated them in 1590/91[vi].

The next time the place is mentioned is in 1644 during the reign of the 3rd shōgun Tokugawa Iemitsu on a map drafted by the Tokugawa Shōgnate called 正保改定図 Shōho Kattei Zu Map of the Shōho Reforms. This map inexplicably has the area formerly referred to as 亀無 Kamenashi “no turtles” labeled as 亀有 Kameari “we’ve got turtles, yo.”



OK, also I’ve been burying the lead about this whole turtle thing. Why were Japanese people so concerned about turtles? I can’t say if they really were or not, any more than I can say the average Roman was really concerned about Vesta or the average Christian is concerned about Little Baby Jesus, but what I can say is that the reference would have been universally recognized across Japan.  Within the syncretic Shintō world view, a turtle was a symbol of 長寿 chōju longevity[vii]. It was an auspicious creature and the kanji was equally auspicious. This is at the heart of why people say the “no turtles” name was changed to “yes, turtles!”[viii]


Why Are You Talking About Maps and Documents That I’ll Never Bother Looking At?

Basically, so you don’t have to. And, also because the name change is very strange, IMO. As I mentioned earlier, we have a clear change in 1644 from 無 nashi having none to 有 ari having some. But there appears to be no official account of this change[ix]. That said all the sources I’ve checked seem to repeat the story that the local villagers petitioned the shōgnate for this change or that the shōgnate itself saw 無 nashi as in auspicious and opted for something more positive. From this point on, the area is consistently referred to as 亀有 Kameari and not 亀無 Kamenashi. In the late Edo Period, Kameari Shrine began decorating the shrine precinct with turtles. Many shrines are guarded by a pair of 狛犬 koma inu guardian dogs, but Kameari Shrine is protected by 狛亀 koma-kame guardian turtles. The earliest extant set of guardian turtles dates from about 1860 – literally the closing years of the Tokugawa Shōgnate.


Koma kame


Alternate Theories

So, is the story above true? Long time readers’ bullshit detectors should be going off by now, but 4 things are definitely true in regards to the historical record.

    The kanji 亀 kame turtle has always been present
    In the Edo Period, a seemingly clear phonetic change in the kanji occurred
③    In the Edo Period, Kameari Katori Shrine began promoting “having turtles” with statuary
    Your mom

There are some other theories out there that… well… should at least be looked at. The biggest mystery for most people is the kanji change in 1644 under the Tokugawa Shōgnate. In short, if I may repeat myself, the standard theory claims that the change is based on the fact that Kamenashi was an inauspicious name because 長寿の亀がない chōju no kame ga nai there is/are no avatar of long life. Turtles were seen to be symbols of long life.  From the 1300’s-1600’s no one gave a crap about changing name phonetically, despite this being such an inauspicious name. The closest thing to a name change is the writing 亀梨 Kamenashi turtle pear, which doesn’t make much sense, but is clearly not talking about a lack of something.



The Mito Kōmon Did It Theory

Mito Kōmon visited the area and changed the name because if you don’t have turtles of long life, you suck. So more turtles of long life for everyone! Everyone loves Mito Kōmon, right?[x] This theory is based on the fact that the lords of Mito and their entourage would pass through the area to do falconry in Kasai. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m tired of stories of shōguns and famous daimyō passing through areas and just renaming shit willy nilly[xi].


The Ainu (or Somebody Else) Did It Theory

OK, and here’s the least popular theory, but for me it might be the most likely. The area was known since time immemorial as カメナシ Kamenashi and the kanji were originally ateji[xii]. If this theory is correct, it would suggest that the all of the kanji are useless in determining this place name. It may also allude to a non-Yamato people living in the area. It also throws us into absolute conjecture mode – which means we’ve exhausted our discussion of the etymology of this place name.



Who Gives a fuck about Kameari?

A lot of people, actually. I don’t read manga or watch anime[xiii], but the average Japanese person probably knows about this area because of manga and anime.

But it’s the setting for こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所 Kochira, Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo This is the Local Police Station in Front of Kameari Park in Katsushika Ward.[xiv]. This manga has been running for more than 30 years[xv].  Statistically, I think it’s the 4th best-selling manga of all time, but don’t quote me on that. It’s affectionately referred to as  こち亀 Kochi-Kame (you can quote me on that) and statues of major characters from the story can be found on the streets near the station.

The area used to be known as the site of the factories of the Japanese pharmaceutical company 三共 Sankyō[xvi] and the famous Japanese electronics company日立 Hitachi, the people who bring much joy to women all over the world due to misuse[xvii] of their best-selling Hitachi Magic Wand. Today, the area is a shitamachi shopping district surrounded by a quiet residential area. Today the name survives as a station name, 亀有駅 Kameari Eki Kameari Station and as 2 postal addresses, 亀有 Kameari Kameari (5 blocks) and 西亀有 Nishi Kameari Kameari West (4 blocks).

The Hitachi Magic Wand

The Hitachi Magic Wand



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[i] I’m not even shitting you when I say I had to google how to shutdown my computer.
[ii] Not to say humans are fucking unoriginal at naming places, but there are common themes around the world. [iii] The river’s course is different today.
[iv] Shrines and temples tend to pass down great stories and for the same reason they keep awesome collections of maps and documents.
[v] To be honest, I don’t know how to translate this text’s name because 注文 chūmon usually means “order” as in “order at a restaurant,” but it has a secondary meaning of “explanatory text.” Sorry, I don’t know more about it.
[vi] Famously, this power vacuum was filled by Tokugawa Ieyasu – ever the hero of any story told from a Tōkyōite’s perspective.
[vii] ie; long life, yo.
[viii] Coming back to this later. So keep this in mind, OK?
[ix] Even if we accept the pre-Edo Period kanji of ~成 nashi making, ~梨 nashi pear, and 無 nashi nothing at face value, at least the pronunciations are the same. The 1644 change is truly remarkable.
[x] I don’t. I hate him, and in a small way blame the theocratic oligarchy of post-Meiji Japan on him.
[xi] Please bear in mind I own copyrights for the “Captain Japan Did It Theory,” the “Mito Kōmon Did It Theory,” the “Tokugawa Iemitsu Did It Theory,” and the “Tokugawa Yoshimune Did It Theory.”
[xii] Phonetic use of kanji.
[xiii] This isn’t entirely true. I read some manga and watch some anime.
[xiv] I don’t know if that’s a good translation of the title. If there’s an official translation, please let me know.
[xv] Apparently, it’s also an anime series and has been re-done as movies, tv series, and it’s even been reimagined in live action as a tv show and on stage!
[xvi] Today the company is known as 第一三共 Daiichi-Sankyō.
[xvii] Or Miss Use, as I like to say.


In Japanese History, Japanese Sex, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 12, 2013 at 1:21 am

 (Divine Prince of Respectful Embellishment)
11th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ienari

Where da ladies at?

Where da ladies at?

After a bunch of super boring shōguns, we’ve finally come to someone worth talking about: Tokugawa Ienari, the party shōgun. Awwwwwwww yeah!

Ienari was the longest reigning shōgun.
Was irresponsible, but people liked him.
Saved many temples & shrines by moving them to Nippori
He was da man for something like 50 years.
Dude was a straight pimp.

"My eyes aren't so good, ladies. Why don't you come a little closer?"

“My eyes aren’t so good, ladies. Why don’t you come a little closer?”


Look at this chart comparing Ienari’s life with mine:

  Ienari Me
legal wife

(literally main bedroom)
1 1

(literally side rooms)
16-27 official concubines
(but there were nearly 1000 women living in the 大奥 ō-oku harem at that time; his number fluctuates because of deaths/illnesses/etc)
children 56
26ish boys
27ish girls
diseases said to have been
“riddled with syphilis”
yet lived to a ripe old 68
(pretty good
for those days)
allergic to ragweed and house dust
partying liked to drink every night with beautiful women
(emphasis on the plural)and he was said to have never had a sexless night
i’d like that too,
but reality is a little different…
nickname 俗物将軍
“da vulgar shōgun”

“da Viagra shōgun” [i]

marky star
spending blew so much cash on bitches and bling that the inheritance money of the direct shōgunal line never recovered until after the bakumatsu what inheritance?
CONCLUSION: A straight up pimp.
Pretty much not a pimp…


"It's good to be the shogun."

If you could, you would.
“It’s good to be the shogun.”


There are a bunch of things he did that I don’t want to compare with my life. For example, as a kid he liked to have pet chickens and crabs. He also liked to step on them and crush them to death. He also loved butter and dairy products.

Yuck. I hate butter and dairy.


Should I bring my drums?

Entertain the shogun? OK.
Should I bring my drums?
Not necessary?
I see.
On my way…


Anyways, after a long life and a long reign that I’m sure he enjoyed every freaking minute of, he was finally enshrined together with his father, Ieharu, at Gen’yūin, the funerary temple of the second shōgun, Ietsuna. Some people might say his posthumous name is inappropriate or ridiculous. But 文 bun means “style” and 恭 kyō means “respect.” Dude, Ienari was a straight up playa. You gotta respect that style[ii].


Stone lanterns from Genyuin. This is the most gravey picture in this article.

Stone lanterns from Genyuin.
This is the most gravey picture in this article.


For the same reasons I’ve been complaining about for days now, I have no pictures of his grave or Gen’yūin mortuary complex. The best I can offer is my original article on Gen’yūin, Tokugawa Ietsuna’s place of enshrinement.

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[i] Ottosei is a kind of seal. Common belief at the time was that if you cut off a seal dick and dry it, then make it into a powder and drink it, you’ll get “man power.”
[ii] Liberal translation, I know. It’s a joke, sue me.

Why is Toriizaka called Toriizaka?

In Japanese History, Japanese Sex on May 14, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Torīzaka (Torī Hill)

Looking up Toriizaka from Toriizakashita.

Looking up Toriizaka from Toriizakashita.

Between the Azabu-Jūban main street* and Roppongi 5-chōme there is a monster hill. I’ve been told it’s one of the steepest hills in central Tōkyō – I believe it. I’ve walked it many times (it’s not that bad), but you definitely get a work out. FujiTV (?) used to run a short segment at night of hot girls running up famous hills. It’s flat at the top of the hill, but the street continues to Roppongi.

(the following video is not Torīzaka, but you get the idea…)*****



The name has always be curious to me because it’s made of two very common Japanese words:

鳥居 torī the “gate” to a Shintō shrine and 坂 saka hill. It would seem obvious except for the fact that there is neither a torī nor a shrine. The closest shrine I know is 麻布十番稲荷神社 Azabu-Jūban Inari Jinja Azabu-Jūban Inari Shrine, but it’s located a fair enough distance from the hill that I doubt there is a connection.

Just now as I’m thinking about it, I suddenly remembered that when the Torīzaka street** crosses the main street (which is a valley), it goes back uphill on the other side of the street. I seem to remember seeing some floats for a small neighborhood Shintō festival one time last year. Now I’m wondering if there is a connection.

What does Toriizaka Mean?

If you know this family crest, you can probably figure out the etymology of Toriizaka by yourself….

Let the investigating begin!

The old maps say that is that a residence of the Torī clan existed here. Retainers of Tokugawa since the Sengoku Era, the family is famous for a certain 鳥居強右衛門 Torī Sunēmon, a loyal samurai who preferred crucifixion to double crossing his bros like a little bitch***. He took it like a man. It wasn’t a daimyō residence, but a relative named 鳥居彦右衛門 Torīzaka Hikoemon who a large samurai residence on the hill. The family was prestigious for their loyalty to the founder of the shōgunate and so the area took pride and referred to the area as 鳥居坂町 Torīzakachō the Torī Hill Neighborhood.


The crucifixion of Torii Suneemon, the famous ancestor of whomever lived on Toriizaka. He was crucified by Takeda Katsuyori, one of the greatest douchebags of the Sengoku Period.

The area is still upper class and the buildings – be they schools, embassies or cultural institutions are surrounded by trees and greenery that really reflect the high city of the Edo Period elite. It’s a cool area despite being located right next to Roppongi which has a reputation as the dirty-ass gaijin slime pit of Japan.


Roppongi is shithole


There is another theory that 氷川神社 Hikawa Jinja Hikawa Shrine, one of the oldest shrines in the area, was originally the bottom of the hill near Azabu-Jūban**** and the street name is a reference to the shrine’s torī. The shrine is located in 元麻布 Moto-Azabu Old Azabu. But according to the information at the shrine, they were originally established in 942 on the same street and hill in Moto-Azabu, just a little bit lower down the hill. They were relocated further up the hill in 1659. While Torīzakachō is a neighboring area, the street intersections are too far to have made any confusion. Plus, the Torī family mansion would have already been on the other hill (Torīzaka) by this time. So I don’t think this theory is valid.

So, as it turns out, there isn’t a connection to the festival I saw. It’s mostly like a case of the area taking pride in the prestige of having a relative of a Sengoku Era hero, loyal to the founder of the Edo Bakufu, in their hood. Good for them.



* The street, as most streets in former castle towns like Edo, do not have names – and this is by design. The city is not laid out on a grid, streets twist and turn and often dead end suddenly, and they rarely have names. This is to confuse invading armies and hinder an easy advance into the heart of the city, the castle. The Romans built walls around the cities and government, the Japanese built cities around the government lol. Anyways, the street is referred to as the 麻布十番商店街 Azabu-Jūban Shōtengai Azabu-Jūban Shopping Street (in the Edo Period think of it as the merchant district).
** This street also doesn’t have a name, only the hill has a name. Another normal feature of life in a castle town.
*** The Battle of Nagashino is a pretty major event in Japanese History, read more about it here.
**** This area still appears on maps as 鳥居坂下 Torīzakashita (bottom of Torīzaka), but it’s not an official postal code name.
***** I embedded this as hyperlink above, but in case you missed it, here is the direct link to pictures of model, Kawai Asuna, running up Torīzaka (sorry, no video):

Why is Yoshiwara called Yoshiwara?

In Japanese History, Japanese Sex on February 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Yoshiwara (Source of Good Luck)

If you mention this place to a Japanese person they have a flood images run through their head; Edo Period nightlife, geisha, drinking sake, oiran, traditional entertainment, prostitution, and even political intrigue in old Japan. It used to be the “pleasure quarters” (遊郭) of Edo and also in Tokyo until the American Occupation which decided that somehow having a place dedicated to adult entertainment was a bad idea.

What a bunch of assholes.

Yoshiwara Ekiyo-e

high class courtesans in full regalia. wanna know why japan is so big on cosplay?
because they had it going on from the old days. (btw, if you break that crown, you gotta pay for it. bring that samurai cash, baby. or don’t come at all.

Orian (the most talented entertainer in the Yoshiwara)

Pre-WWII photo of the highest ranking entertainer in the Yoshiwara of that year. Relax, the 2 girls with her are not prostitutes or anything like that. They are in training, probably learning etiquette, tea ceremony, walking, smiling, not smiling and conversation.
Wish we could see this photo in full color!

Anyways, the name is made of 2 kanji, (kichi, yoshi) and it means good luck. The second kanji is which means “source,” “primary” or “raw.” Knowing that, you can see why I translated the name as I did.

love the clothes!

preparing for tonight’s gig!

The original location may have pre-dated the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate and it just happened to be located near Nihonbashi, the epicenter of many roads flowing into/out of Edo. After the Meireiki Fire which devastated that area of Edo, the pleasure quarters were moved to a located surrounded by moats…. either to protect them from outside fires, or more directly to protect the rest of the city from the craziness that might start fires there.

For most of the Edo Period, it was an isolated area only in terms of the moats. Customers came and went casually. That said, the girls who worked there were in a state of semi-slavery (a little social mobility was possible, but I guess in the west we would call them indentured servants). But the girls were basically forbidden to leave unless their freedom was purchased by a rich merchant or samurai. Most of the women who worked in the Yoshiwara had either been sold by their families and thus disowned or had no one else financially responsible for them upon death. Most of them were interred/enshrined at Joukanji. It’s depressing.

it's sad because their families sold them... different strokes for different era's folks....

the common grave for yoshiwara girls with no family connections (or who were also rejected by the shops that employed them).

Today, there is no official address called Yoshiwara.  There is no train station called Yoshiwara. This was all by design of MacArthur and his cronies, whose puritanical sensibilities managed to persist on paper and geography, but in some ways were totally ignored in that today the former Yoshiwara is still very much red light district. There are residences here now, but none of those people use the word Yoshiwara, except as a reference to history or a joke.

Yoshiwara Before the WWII.

Yoshiwara before the war. Slightly Westernized. But doesn’t look so strange, right? It’s a typical “shitamachi” neighborhood in old Tokyo. Edo was probably not much different.

Today, girls who have decided to make a career in the Japanese sex industry sometimes even refer to themselves as Yoshiwara girls.

Yoshiwara NOW

today’s yoshiwara is a sex industry town. This is a Soapland, where you get bathed and fucked by a good, Japanese girl.
But the reality is that the neighborhood has adapted with the manners and mores of the time. The manners of this girl might be close to the old times, but the forwardness wouldn’t have been.

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Best Video Games Ever?

In Japanese Sex, Japanese Slang, Japanese Subculture, Japanese Video Games on January 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I’m not into video games. But if the video game has cute girls you tease, I’m willing to reconsider my position.

After my girlfriend and I discovered the Puff! application for iPhone, I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent blowing up the skirts of cute girls. Now there’s a brand new one called Puff! Premium that adds more models and more panchira fun. Anyways, it’s loads of fun and never gets boring at parties…

If the 3 VIDEO LINKS above weren’t enough, here’s the PUFF! Official CM:

But I’m hear to talk about something much more nerdy than blowing up hotties’ skirts. Oh yes.

For the legions of otaku who can’t get girlfriends, there is a brand new video game coming out next month (Feb 2010) called “REAL KANOJO.” The name means “Real Girlfriend” and of course is nothing like a real girlfriend in the very least – but if this is as close to the real thing as you can get, then good for you – because REAL KANOJO might still be loads of fun… because… well… you can touch her, poke her, squeeze her and basically annoy her in any way you want to and she’ll never ever say “no.” Or even if she did, why would you listen? She’s not really a real kanojo, just a bunch of silly code, right? Right.

The premise, so far as I can tell is, you meet an overly well-endowed 19 year old girl on the beach named Ai. This is a common girl’s name in Japan and can often be written with the kanji for love. It also looks like AI = Artificial Intelligence. Ooooh, those crafty programmers. From there, you can have long talks with her on the beach, watch her roll around in the sand, frolic in the water, jump on the bed, play with her boobs and (according to what she says in the demo, you can have sex with her). And let’s face it, nobody’s gonna spend much time chatting her up with you can get straight to the boobs. And if you are the romantic type… well… alright then. Carry on.

Anyhoo, I’m sure a lot of uptight people will say this is so degrading to women. But if you take that approach, isn’t it also degrading to the guys who have no other recourse but this? There. It’s a double whammy. Degrading to women in general, and degrading to the loser who really thinks it is his “real kanojo.” lol

However, I don’t believe most people who buy this will think it is their “real kanojo.” I mean, come on, there are loads of horny people out there. Hell in Japanese they even have a cute word for people who are a little more obsessed with sex than the average joe, ero-ero. See? Sounds cute. Now you can be a pervert and not carry with you all the baggage that comes with it in sexually repressive societies like America.

My girlfriend is totally down with silly stuff like this, so when I showed her a demo on YouTube the other day, she was like “I wanna try it!” Now, I’m down for getting it, too… but this is a PC only game (as far as I know). So I think I’ll pass on it.


Because like Puff!, this game would go over big at parties or at the bar or whenever you’re just bored waiting for the train with your friends. A portable version for my Nintendo DS is where it’s at!!!

Here’s the trailer for REAL KANOJO (thanks to News Junkie)

Here’s the Official Demo:

Two goof balls messing around with their trial version:





1) love
2) a common girl’s given name





showing underwear.
this word is an abbreviation of
パンツをちらり which means “to catch a glimpse of someone’s panties.” this is also called “PM” in japanese which is a romanized acronym for パンツ見える “her panties are showing.
in a country where short skirts are everywhere and crowded train stations have plenty of stairs and elevators, you can see why these phrases are culturally significant. Lol.


short definition:
a nerd or geek.
in the context of this article, it refers to a nerdy japanese subculture obsessed with video games, manga, anime, and collecting dolls. although it’s generally looked down upon by mainstream society, it’s actually quite a massive market and responsible for many quirky aspects of pop culture today in japan.


oversexed, a little dirty
(derives from the english word Eros or erotic; but has been doubled up to sound cute)

awwwwwwww yeah!
mαrky( -_-)凸

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