Shinagawa Station – Then and Now

Shinagawa Station in History I haven’t updated in a while, so please accept my apologies. I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment but there is an article in the works. That said, an idea came to me while on the shitter thinking about Edo Bay vs. Tōkyō Bay (as one does). So I thought I’d share a bunch of cool pictures of Shinagawa. In the Edo Period, the Shinagawa/Takanawa area was a collection of bustling seaside villages, but compared to castle town of Edo, it was quite rural. It was the literal edge of Edo. The Tōkaidō, … Continue reading Shinagawa Station – Then and Now

A Visit to the Omori Kaizuka

大森貝塚Ōmori Kaizuka  (Omori Shell Mound) The other day I wrote about Ōmori and I mentioned that there was a paleolithic trash dump there that was the first archaeological dig in Japan. I had a little free time so I decided to check it out and take some pictures for the site. Actually, it was a lot less interesting than I thought it would be, but I don’t want the pictures to go to waste. Hopefully, there’s some interesting stuff in here for you. Continue reading A Visit to the Omori Kaizuka

Why is Roppongi called Roppongi

Today, Roppongi is a party town. For years it’s been popular with foreigners due to its proximity to so many foreign embassies. Because of this proximity, the area is relatively English-friendly which makes it a destination for foreigners visiting Japan and the seedy businesses that often cater to (or try to take advantage of) foreigners. But in the Edo Period, this was home to sprawling mansions of the elite ruling class. Many of the street blocks still correspond to the locations of these residences. Continue reading Why is Roppongi called Roppongi

The Tokyo train system is probably the best in the world. This may not even be a complete map (or at least the JR Lines don't seem to be labeled indivdually....)

Tokyo Train Line Names

Most of the train lines in Tōkyō have names based on whatever major area they originated/terminated – or at least stopped at. For example, the Marunouchi Line’s most important stations were in the former Marunouchi (Daimyō Alley) and the Yamanote Line connected centers of the “new Yamanote.[ii]” Some of the more ambitious, longer train lines have names that describe their start/stop points in general terms. This type of name usually reflects the tendency of the Japanese language to make new matches out of existing kanji.

Most of these names are self-evident to the Japanese, especially people who live and/or work in and around Tōkyō. But many of these names may be slightly mysterious to foreigners. Continue reading Tokyo Train Line Names

What does Ushigome mean?

牛込 Ushigome (Crowd of Cows) 。 。 牛 ushi cow 込 komi[i] swarming, huddling, amassed, crowded, “in bulk” 。 According to Japanese Wikipedia[ii], in 701, in accordance to the Taihō Code, a livestock ranch was established in this area. In fact, two were established which were sometimes referred to as 牛牧 gyūmaki a cow ranch and 馬牧 umamaki a horse ranch. These two locations came to be referred to as 牛込 Ushigome and 駒込 Komagome. The fact that there was a cattle/dairy ranch here in the Asuka Period is a known fact (it’s documented). The horse ranch is a different … Continue reading What does Ushigome mean?

The Grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu

The shogunate is finished… that’s not sad to me. The sad thing is closing out this chapter on a subject that is so personal to me. I also love Yoshinobu because after a hundred years of 微妙 shoguns, we got a guy who represented his era and his pedigree exceptionally. Until the bitter end, Yoshinobu was an aristocrat, but in a time of crisis he took the challenge and helped to save the shogun family line persist until the present day. Continue reading The Grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu

Tokugaa Ieyoshi

Shintoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieyoshi

Tokugawa Ieyoshi was a pretty much a brown paper bag shogun. There is nothing notable about his rule… until the last year. In the last year, Commodore Perry arrived in Japan with his “Black Ships” and demanded that Japan end its isolationist policy. That’s when the shit hit the proverbial fan. Continue reading Shintoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieyoshi