marky star

Posts Tagged ‘black ships’

What does Tachiaigawa mean?

In Japanese History on January 18, 2019 at 2:52 pm

立会川
Tachiaigawa
(Tachiai River; more at water meets water)

untitled-1

Tachiaigawa in the Edo Period and today

It’s been about a year since I updated the site. A whole fucking year [i]. Long time readers will remember the time I got rivered and almost abandoned the project altogether. Well, I started an article one year ago that, on the surface, seemed so simple, but actually turned into a nightmare. So, I’ve decided to take smaller bites and get things up and running again. I also apologize for keeping everyone waiting and hope I didn’t have anyone worrying. Also, a note about footnotes. WordPress changed the backend editor, so there is a chance the footnote links may not work.

So without further ado, let’s talk about a place in Tōkyō that foreigners don’t often go. Actually, a lot of Tōkyōites have never heard of this area either. It lies on 東海道 Tōkaidō the Eastern Sea Route[ii], just past the former post towns of 北品川宿 Kita Shinagawa-shuku North Shinagawa Post Town and 南品川宿 Minami Shinagawa-shuku South Shinagawa Post Town, between the former fishing village of  鮫洲 Samezu and 鈴ヶ森死刑所 Suzugamori Shikeijo Suzugamori Execution Grounds. Of course, I’m talking about 立会川 Tachiaigawa[iii]. In the Edo Period, travelers leaving the capital for Kyōto would have probably lodged in either Shinagawa Post Town or 川崎宿 Kawasaki-shuku Kawasaki Post Town[iv], but they definitely would have passed this rural seaside area, called 大井村 Ōi Mura Ōi Village at the time.

Further Reading:

suzugamori at night (1 of 1)

Suzugamori Execution Grounds at night. Ooooooh, spooooooky.

Let’s Look at the Kanji


tatsu, tachi
stand, rise, set up

au, ai
meet, join

kawa, -gawa
river

There are several creative theories that try to explain the origin of this place name, yet none of them are particularly convincing to me. I have my own pet theory which is not creative and seems super-obvious, but before we talk about the explanations people have put forward over the years, I want to talk about the geography of the area.

Until the late 1950’s, the coastline of  江戸湾東京湾 Edo-wanTōkyō-wan Edo/Tōkyō Bay was more or less the same. The neighborhood called Tachiaigawa was outside of the old city limits on the Tōkaidō Highway and lay directly on the beach at a place where a distributary of the 目黒川 Meguro-gawa Meguro River called the Tachiai-gawa which flowed into Edo-Tōkyō Bay[v]. Until 1903, when 立会川駅 Tachiaigawa Eki Tachiaigawa Station opened, the area was not called Tachiaigawa. In fact, this is just a local term. In the Edo Period, this area was just considered 荏原国大井村 Ebara no Kuni Ōi Mura Ōi Village, Ebara Province[vi]. Even today, Tachiaigawa is not an official postal code. These days, this is 南大井一丁目 Minami Ōi Itchōme 1st block of South Ōi. The only thing you have to remember is that the Tachiai River has flown and continues to flow through this area. That’s key to its etymology.

samurai battle

Theory 1: There was a Samurai Battle here

This theory posits that the name derives from the combination 太刀 tachi long sword 会 ai meeting 川 kawa river (ie; the river where long swords met). And sure, since the 弥生時代 Yayoi Jidai Yayoi Period (let’s say from 300 BCE) until the Edo Period (1603), the history of Japan was dominated by warfare, but without a specific battle connected to this location, it’s really hard to say if this is just oral tradition or false etymology. If 太刀会 tachiai meeting of long swords is a prevalent place name in other places in eastern Japan or the rest of the country[vii], I might buy into this theory. However, what would seal the deal for me is if someone could point to a specific battle at this location[viii].

waterfall

Theory 2: There were Beautiful Waterfalls

It’s well a known fact that Edo Period castle towns didn’t have street names, so when people described their villages or neighborhoods to each other they used landmarks, hill names, and bridge names. It’s fair to say that either the bridges over the Tachiai River or the river itself could become an unofficial reference to the area.

The story goes that the original village lie on a calm section of the river between two waterfalls and was originally called 滝間 takima between the waterfalls, so locals began to refer to that stretch of the river as 滝間川 Takima-gawa the river between the falls which over time changed into Tachiai-gawa. I find this to be pretty unconvincing because in all my years running this site, I don’t remember a /ki/ becoming a //. Not that it isn’t possible[ix], I just can’t recall an example of that sound change in Japanese off the top of my head. Also, given the constant waterworks projects over the centuries, it would be hard to prove this.

buddha suzugamori (1 of 1)

Buddha statue at Suzugamori Execution Grounds. Recently, I’ve been going here late at night because I like creepy ghost shit. Awwwww yeah.

Theory 3: The Suzugamori Theory

I’ve written about 鈴ヶ森死刑所 Suzugamori Shikeijo Suzugamori Execution Grounds in the past[x] and in that article, I mentioned 涙橋 Namida-bashi the Bridge of Tears. For reasons of ritual cleanliness, executions were generally carried out beyond the city limits, so Suzugamori was a great place for that. People coming in and out of Edo would have seen the shōgunate’s ultimate authority, that over life and death. Also, it’s well known that 浜川橋 Hamagawa-bashi Hamagawa Bridge is generally known by locals as Namida-bashi. This was the last chance for condemned criminals to say their final farewells to their families[xi]. If this is the case, 立会 tachiai has a literal meaning of “standing and meeting.” Family and friends stood and watched their loved ones for the last time here.

namidabashi at night (1 of 1)

Namidabashi at night. Everyone’s coming home after a hard day of work at Suzugamori…

There is a corollary theory that pertains to the specifics of death sentences in the Edo Period. Condemned criminals would have been paraded through the streets as an example to all and then executed at one of the Three Great Execution Grounds of Edo. This related theory says that this river was where 御立会 o-tachiai government “involvement” happened. In short, shōgunate officials would arrive at Suzugamori to confirm the details of the condemned person’s case and observe (another meaning of the word o-tachiai) the execution. That means Tachiaigawa would mean “the place on the river where the shōgunate observed and confirmed executions.”

Because there are two theories presented, this seems to be a solid case for this etymology – on the surface. But guess who has two thumbs, writes JapanThis!, and thinks this is bullshit?

two thumbs

The Edo Period wasn’t that long ago. In fact, last year (2018) was the 150th anniversary of 大政奉還 Taisei Hōkan the shōgunate handing political authority over to the imperial court or 明治維新 Meiji Ishin the Meiji Coup (depending on which side you take). But think about it. Who the fuck would want to brag about living in a neighborhood famous for thousands of executions? To this very day, the former execution grounds of Suzugamori and Kozukappara are some of the least desirable places for real estate, with rent being cheap, and zero developers swooping in to build swanky high-rise apartments and shopping centers[xii]. In fact, the only reason people even live in areas like Tachiaigawa is because of necessity caused by urban sprawl in the post-war years. It’s the main reason the area still feels like the post-war years. Very little has changed since the 1960’s and 70’s! I doubt the execution thing would be a source of pride for the local fishermen and seaweed farmers who operated in this area from before the Edo Period until the 1950’s. Even the “Bridge of Tears” is a nickname. The official name is still “Seaside River Bridge” referring to the fact that it was literally a bridge crossing a river that emptied into the sea. Way more kosher than all that dark execution shit.

ryoma warehouse (1 of 1)

Because Tosa Domain had a huge residence here, you’ll find references to Sakamoto Ryōma and the Black Ships everywhere. For example, on this warehouse or whatever it is.

Theory 4: Where Water Meets Water

In doing this research, I remembered that time I got rivered. There were a few times I came across the kanji stand and meet. We see this in place names like 立川 Tachikawa Tachikawa and words like 合流 gōryū confluence. Without ever reviewing my previous research, it just seemed natural that a place where a river flowed into the sea would be called Tachiai-gawa. Why invoke all this stuff about samurai battles and executions?

To quote from my article on the Meguro River:

The Shinagawa clan was a branch of the main 大井氏 Ōi-shi Ōi clan. In order to irrigate their fief, the Ōi clan dabbled in a little river manipulation. Somewhere near the place called 立会川 Tachiaigawa (the modern kanji mean something like “the place where rivers stand together/come together”), the Ōi separated a section of the river 断ち合い川 tachiai kawa rivers that cut off from each other.  This happened in the Kamakura Period. One of the branches passed by 瀧泉寺 Ryūsen-ji Ryūsen Temple in Shimo-Meguro (see my article on Meguro).

I can’t find any maps from the Kamakura Period for this area[xiii], but Edo Period maps are readily available both online and in my private collection. Although it’s underground today, you can still trace a split in the river near Tachiaigawa Station that once flowed into the 下屋敷 shimo-yashiki suburban palace of 土佐藩 Tosa Han Tosa Domain. I’m assuming this is a remnant of the Kamakura Period waterworks. And when I say you can trace the path, I mean you can literally walk the path of the river today. Like right now. I dare you to do it, you lazy fuck.

All of those other fantastic theories are great stories, but if I were a betting man, I’d venture to say the etymology of Tachiaigawa is a mix of “rivers that split off from each other” and “where the river meets the sea.” In a bayside region full of rivers, Occam’s Razor comes down hard in favor of this theory. It’s clean and simple, looks like other derivations we’ve seen before, yet doesn’t require unattested battles, unconfirmed waterfalls and irregular diachronic sound changes, or a bizarre glorification of public executions for 250 some odd years and the shōgunate’s protocol in such matters. It’s just where water meets water. Pretty sure that’s it.

Further Reading:

hamakawa daiba (1 of 1).jpg

Cannon commemorating the Hamakawa Battery. Yup, that’s right. There’s a big ol’ cannon in the middle of a playground for children. Sounds more American than Japanese…

Sakamoto Ryōma

If you get off the 京急線 Keikyū-sen Keikyū Line at Tachiaigawa Station, you’ll find yourself in a very 下町 shitamachi low city neighborhood with a distinct post-war looking 商店街 shōtengai shopping street replete with local bars, yaki-tori joints, and a big old statue of 坂本龍馬 Sakamoto Ryōma. I’m not gonna explain who he was, you can read about him here. But across the street from the station is a school and residential area that sit on the suburban palace of his native domain, 土佐藩 Tosa-han Tosa Domain – modern 高知県 Kōchi-ken Kōchi Prefecture. He most definitely spent some time walking on the Tōkaidō while serving guard duty at the nearby by 浜川砲台 Hamagawa Hōdai Fort Hamagawa in his twenties[xiv]. In Tachiaigawa, you can find a cheap knock off of a famous statue in Kōchi, which itself is a cheap knock off of the iconic photograph of Ryōma himself taken at the 上野撮影局 Ueno Satsueikyoku Ueno Photography Studio in Nagasaki some time in 1867[xv]. At any rate, nearby is a placard depicting the four 黒船 Kurofune Black Ships commanded by Commodore Perry that arrived in Edo Bay in 1853: the Susquehanna, Mississippi, Saratoga, and Plymouth[xvi].

Further Reading:

ryoma tachiaigawa (1 of 1)

Ryōma voguing Bakumatsu style

tachiaigawa at night (1 of 1)

After a day of walking the old Tōkaidō, I love grabbing dinner Shōwa-style in Tachiaigawa.

Help Support JapanThis!

Follow JapanThis! on Twitter
JapanThis! on Facefook
JapanThis! on Flickr
JapanThis! on Instagram
Support Support Every Article on Patreon
Donate with BitCoin (msg via Facebook)

Donate via Paypal

$5.00

Explore Edo-Tōkyō With Me Japan This Guided Tours
(And yes, I’ll take you through Shinagawa post town and to Tachiaigawa, or even the execution grounds. It’s not for tourists, it’s for history nerds!)

 


[i] Or, a hole fucking year, if you’re on #TeamIenari.
[ii] One of the 5 Great Highways. The 東海道 Tōkaidō Eastern Sea Route and 中仙道  Nakasendō Mountain Pass Route connected the shōgun’s capital of 江戸 Edo Edo (modern day Tōkyō) with the imperial capital 京 Kyō (modern day Kyōto).
[iii] Of course I am lol
[iv] I’ve actually walked from 日本橋 Nihonbashi, the easternmost starting point on the Tōkaidō (the name literally means “the bridge to Japan”), to the modern city of Kawasaki. Without visiting too many temples and shrines and walking at a brisk pace, I made the journey in a day. I think most Edo Period people would easily spend a full day and night in Shinagawa before beginning the tedious walk to Kawasaki. Shinagawa offered delicious seafood, plenty of drinking and whoring, and a non-stop variety of amazing views of 江戸湾 Edo-wan Edo Bay. Some ghoulishly curious types probably checked out the execution grounds, cuz, yeah. Humans.
[v] At various points in history and depending on the stretch of river in question, this may have been referred to as the Shinagawa River.
[vi] It was directly controlled by the 幕府 bakufu shōgunate, but it wasn’t part of Edo proper. The term 国 kuni province was basically a traditional term – as it is today – to refer to old Heian Period territories. Today, it’s nostalgic, but in the Edo Period, province names were retained for their “classical appeal” and used in court titles.
[vii] It’s not.
[viii] I can’t find anything that satisfies these criteria.
[ix] This exact sound change is quite well known and regular in Latin languages – Italian and French in particular. Latin centum /kentum/ became Italian cento /tʃento/ (one hundred) and Latin cattus /cattus/ became French chat /ʃat/ (cat).
[x] Here’s my article on Suzugamori.
[xi] If their families even bothered to show up.
[xii] The exception being 小伝馬町 Kodenmachō, which is near 日本橋 Nihonbashi whose thriving business district overshadows the grim atmosphere of the neighborhoods around Suzugamori and Kozukappara. Kozukappara was so awful that the place name doesn’t exist outside of historical landmarks. Suzugamori’s name is still attached to a park and an elementary school.
[xiii] There might not be any, but maybe I’ll visit the 品川歴史館 Shinagawa Rekishikan Shinagawa History Museum again to see if they can help.
[xiv] This is a 30-40 minute walk today. I suspect in the Edo Period it would have taken about an hour.
[xv] If I remember correctly, the statue used to stand in front of a convenience store or something as a kinda gimmick. But since the renewal of the old Tōkaidō beginning in 2008 or so, they’ve played up Ryōma’s association with the area much more and put the (I’m assuming) plastic statue on a large concrete pedestal and put him in a park next to the train station.
[xvi] Not that these ships ever actually made it to Edo. They did their business in Uraga Bay which is actually miles from Edo-Tōkyō.

What does Odaiba mean?

In Japanese History on April 21, 2014 at 6:59 am

お台場
O-daiba (battery)

odaiba sex paradise

 

There are probably 2 reactions to the title of this post. One, Japanese history geeks are face-palming and asking, “Why would you choose a topic so fucking simple?” The other, noobs are saying, “Batteries? But those are modern inventions!”

Well, everybody settle the fuck down. For the j-history nerds, understand that I’m going to try to focus on easy place names for the next 9 installments[i]. And just like the Cylons, I have a plan. For the beginners who are reading, don’t worry. We’re not talking about those kinds of batteries. And yes, just like the Cylons, I have a freaking plan.

First of all the term お台場 o-daiba is a modern day affectation of an Edo Period term. It was created in 1979. In the polite speak of the Tokugawa Shōgunate, the term 御台場 o-daiba is what appeared in texts and maps[ii].  Of I’ll talk more about this later, but since the Meiji Period 台場 daiba was generally used to refer to certain specific places and to this day, O-daiba is not an official postal code. Daiba, however, is an official postal code[iii].

 

Bases for mounting cannons located on the former Battery #3. Now a public park.

Bases for mounting cannons located on the former Battery #3. Now a public park.

 

 

 

OK, So WTF is a Daiba or an O-daiba?

It’s time to address the battery question. I really hope that this isn’t a problem for most people, but from time to time I get really strange e-mails… so who knows? Anyways, battery refers to an arrangement of artillery – in the case of today’s article we’re talking about cannons.

In the Edo Period, Japan was a samurai country, so why did they have cannons? Well, for the most part, it seems that they didn’t have cannons in general use[iv]. But with the arrival of the 黒船 kurofune Black Ships[v] in 1853, there was a pressing need for the wooden city of Edo existing in a successful, self-imposed isolation to admit that refusing contact with the outside world was a bad idea. Why? Well, Japanese shipbuilding and gun making technology were fossilized early 17th century stuff. They were about 2 centuries behind. Pretty embarrassing for a culture that put warriors at the top of the social hierarchy. To make matters worse, Commodore Perry gave the shōgunate an ultimatum: Open up your country, or I’ll force you open with our superior technology. He told them to take a year to think about it. Then he would come back.

 

And yes, apparently Edo Era Japanese artists couldn't draw the American flag.

And yes, apparently Edo Era Japanese artists couldn’t draw the American flag.

This threw the 天下 tenka realm/Japan into years of murderous civil unrest that culminated in an illegal coup by the most annoying domains of the late Edo Period. But before that happened, the shōgunate scrambled to beef up their coastal defenses. One of the major projects was protecting the shōgun’s capital by building a series of 11 modern, western style batteries to protect 江戸湾 Edo-wan Edo Bay. Since they only had a year before Perry’s return, they really scrambled to complete the building project. Within 8 months, 5 artificial islands in the most critical areas had been built by flattening hills in the Shinagawa area and dumping the dirt into the bay.

Battery #3

Battery #3

 

 

Collectively, the network of batteries was known as the 品川台場 Shinagawa Daiba Shinagawa Batteries[vi]. The financing of construction and maintenance of each daiba was handled in typical Tokugawa style: the shōgunate outsourced the costs and responsibilities to a select group of 譜代大名 fudai daimyō lords descended from the supporters of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara.

 

Battery #6 is a nature preserve and is in inaccessible to the public, except for some occasional special openings.

Battery #6 is a nature preserve and is in inaccessible to the public, except for some occasional special openings.

 

Japanese Name English Name Domain Current Status
第一台場
dai-ichi daiba
Battery #1 川越藩
Kawagoe Han
Kawagoe Domain
The surrounding areas have been filled in and the site of the former battery is now just a small bit of 品川埠頭 Shinagawa futō Shinagawa Wharf, a pier for loading/unloading cargo.
第二台場
dai-ni daiba
Battery #2 会津藩
Aizu Han
Aizu Domain
Apparently, it was demolished and is currently underwater.
第三台場
dai-san daiba
Battery #3 忍藩
Oshi Han
Oshi Domain
Preserved. Today it’s called 台場公園 Daiba Kōen Battery Park[vii]. It’s easily accessible and
第四台場
dai-yon daiba
Battery #4 佐賀
Saga Han
Saga Domain
Halfway through construction a fire broke out and the landfill was re-purposed as a dock for the shōgunate. Today, it is part of 天王洲アイル Ten’ōzu Isle. The area is commemorated by the name シーフォート Shī Fōto Sea Fort. And the Edo Period stone walls have been recycled to make up the Ten’ōzu Isle Boardwalk.
第五台場
dai-go daiba
Battery #5 幕府
bakufu
shōgunate[viii]
Like Battery #1, the surrounding areas have been filled in and the site of the former battery is now just a small bit of 品川埠頭 Shinagawa Futō Shinagawa Wharf.
第六台場
dai-roku daiba
Battery #6 幕府
bakufu
shōgunate[ix]
The island is preserved, however, access is strictly forbidden. Today it is a wildlife preserve overgrown with vegetation and whatever animal life lives there.
第七台場
dai-shichi daiba
Battery #7  ? Begun, but never finished.
第八台場
dai-hachi daiba
Battery #8 never built never built
第九台場
dai-kyū daiba
Battery #9 never built never built
第十台場
dai-jū daiba
Battery #10 never built never built
第十一台場
dai-jūichi daiba
Battery #11 never built never built

 

 

The most critical batteries were built first, those being Batteries 1-3. Next, they built Batteries 5-6, however, Battery 4 was never completed.

 

Here you can see where the batteries once stood with all of the modern development of Tokyo Bay.

Here you can see where the batteries once stood with all of the modern development of Tokyo Bay. As you can see, Batteries 3 and 6 are the only remaining islands.

 

The batteries proved to be effective, though. When Commodore Perry returned he tried to disembark at Edo, but was turned away by the modern gunnery installed in the forts. The shōgunate negotiators told him to take his fleet to 横浜 Yokohama, as they had agreed to open the port of Yokohama for the resumption of negotiations. The batteries were more or less untested, nonetheless they served their purpose well.

Battery 3 and Battery 6 were left intact, but the other 3 batteries were dismantled to allow greater access to the Port of Tōkyō. From the 1940’s to the 1970’s the dismantled batteries were reclaimed as more landfill was built up for ports and docks for shipping containers. What people generally call O-daiba is a generic term for the 東京臨海副都心 Tōkyō Rinkai Fukutoshin Tōkyō Waterfront Second City. And as alluded to earlier, there is no postal address “O-daiba.” 港区台場 Minato-ku Daiba Daiba, Minato Ward – on the other hand – is an official postal address.

 

img_12

Japanese history nerds get boners for ishigaki (stone walls). I don’t know why, but it seems par for the course.

The stone walls of Battery #4 were recycled to decorate Tenozu Aisle Boardwalk.

The stone walls of Battery #4 were recycled to decorate Tenozu Aisle Boardwalk.

 

 

 

  If you like JapanThisplease donate.
Click Here to Donate
Click Here to Buy Awesome Nerdy J-History Goods

 

 

________________________________

[i] That said, usually when I choose something I think will be easy, there turns out to be a total clusterfuck in the historical record and the posts become epic. Fingers crossed that won’t happen with this one.
[ii] The polite prefix , sometimes uselessly translated as “honorable,” was used much more in the Edo Period than today. In low frequency words Modern Japanese words, it is seen as too formal – or even classical – these days. So high frequency Modern Japanese words usually use the hiragana  お o or ご go. Using the kanji is difficult because the classical use of the kanji has a range of readings that have to be memorized and are of little use to the day to day lives of the average Japanese speaker.
[iii] Good for it.
[iv] Cannon use or manufacture seems to have escalated a little bit before the Battle of Nagashino (1575) and from what little I know about the subject, seems to have become kind of hush-hush technology except to high ranking strategists of the shōgunate or the domains. I could be wrong on this, tho…
[v] A fleet of state of the art (at the time) coal burning ships commandeered by Commodore Matthew Perry, the naval officer charged with opening up Asian ports useful to America and their trading partners’ interests. And yes, they really were black.
[vi] Another name was 品川砲台 Shinagawa Hōdai the Shinagawa Forts.
[vii] And yes, the name of NYC’s Battery Park is basically the same story. That’s why there’s no Energizer Bunny there either.
[viii] Only because I can’t find a reference to another domain being tasked with this construction.
[ix] Only because I can’t find a reference to another domain being tasked with this construction.

Shintokuin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 13, 2013 at 4:59 am

慎徳院
Shintokuin  (Divine Prince of Humility & Virtue)
十二代将軍徳川家慶公
12th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ieyoshi
Zōjō-ji

Tokugaa Ieyoshi

He looks like a clown in this picture,
but archaeological research in the 1950’s
confirmed that the dude had a massive forehead.

The 12th shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyoshi, was another one of those boring late Edo Period shōguns. Dude had the pedigree. Dude had the name. Dude had 15 concubines. He would have gone down in history as a dude born at the right time and right place, though totally unworthy of holding the reins of government. He was shōgun from 1837 to 1853. From 1837 to July, 1853 his reign can be described as business as usual. But by the end of that fateful month, he would be dead.

Through no doing of his own, an event happened that threatened to plunge Japan into chaos for centuries or perhaps result in Japan’s subjugation by the same foreign influences that turned “Asia’s Rome[i]” upside down and brought her to her knees.

On July 8th, 1853 an American naval fleet led by Commodore Matthew Perry rolled in to Uraga Bay and demanded that Japan “open up” to trade.

How the Japanese media perceived the "Black Ship Threat"

How the Japanese media perceived the “Black Ship Threat”

Ieyoshi was 60 at the time, ie; he was a fucking living fossil[ii]. And summer in Kantō is hot and ridiculously humid. It’s said that he collapsed from the heat and died.

The Americans returned in spring of the next year (1854) to sign a “treaty” and set up a delegation on foreign soil (predecessor to the American Embassy). But Townsend Harris, first American Ambassador to Japan (1856-1861) who witnessed first-hand the unprecedented xenophobia and violence that marked the beginning of the bakumatsu had supposedly heard rumors that the geriatric shōgun had been cut to death or poisoned by factions within Edo Castle that felt he was unprepared to deal with the “problem of the foreigners.”

Both stories are plausible, the first being a cover up of the latter. The latter being a possible conspiracy theory that sounded all too real during Harris’ stay in Edo. Nobody knows which one is true. My gut instinct goes with the heat stroke theory because old people die all the time in Japan when it gets too hot – but I could totally be wrong.

What the Black Ships really were....

What the Black Ships really were….

Anyways, the summer of the last year of Ieyoshi’s reign marks the beginning of the bakumatsu. To me it’s the most interesting era of Japanese history. Although no one knew it at the time, it marked the beginning of the end of the Tokugawa shōgunate. If the bakufu had wanted to build new mortuary temples again or not, we don’t know. If they didn’t have money in the coffers at this point, there’d never have enough later. And in 10 years, it wouldn’t matter[iii].

When he died he enshrined gōshi style at 文昭院 Bunshōin in Zōjō-ji. Hopefully you remember that Bunshōin was Tokugawa Ienobu’s mausoleum. Except for the metal gate leading to Ienobu’s funerary urn, nothing is left of the site after WWII.

2-story pagoda shaped urn of Tokugawa Ieyoshi

2-story pagoda shaped urn of Tokugawa Ieyoshi

.

 

.


[i] I’m refering to China, btw. See what I did there? That’s called Eurocentrism.

[ii] For the time, I mean. lol

[iii] Hindsight? Yes.

%d bloggers like this: