People have been asking for this one since 2013. I finally did it in 2 parts. Continue reading What does Kanda mean?
内幸町Uchisaiwai-chō (Inner Happy Town; as in the inner part of Happy Town, not inner happiness) Quick Etymology Uchisaiwachō derives from Edo Castle’s 幸橋 Saiwai-bashi Saiwai Bridge, which was protected by a fortified gate. 内 uchi means inside. Therefore, Uchisaiwai-chō means … Continue reading What does Uchisaiwaichō mean?
Today let’s look at Kitami, a place name closely related to Edo. Continue reading What does Kitami mean?
What does Mishuku mean? It looks like “three post towns,” but linguists think it originally meant “the place where water abounds.” Continue reading What does Mishuku mean?
The story of the Kanda River is a story as old as Edo itself. It is part and parcel of the evolution of the city. Continue reading The Kanda River
Sometimes called the biggest river in Japan, though it’s actually not, this unruly river unites much of the Kanto area.
Continue reading The Tone River
It’s sounds inaka, but so does your mom. Continue reading What does Tamachi mean?
Ota Dokan did it! Well, in this case, he probably did. Let’s get it on. Continue reading What does Dokanyama mean?
Sendagi is one of the areas where the spirit of old Japan still lingers. It’s history lovers wet dream! Continue reading What does Sendagi mean?
Wanna support the blog? It would mean a lot if you did!
If not, that’s OK, I made you a video today. Continue reading Questions from Readers
Most people seem to think the name Yotsuya is old. Old as in it pre-dates the Edo Period. But one thing that is consistent in most of the etymologies is the first kanji, 四 yottsu four. Much of the mystery of this place name seems to come from the final character. That said, the “number 4” character is also suspect. So let’s be skeptical, shall we? Continue reading What does Yotsuya mean?
I’m not even joking when I say I think this name was chosen just because it sounded cool. Continue reading What does Toranomon mean?
Formerly part of the outer enclosure of Edo Castle and now a shopping district next to Ginza, Yurakucho is strange name with an elusive past. Continue reading What does Yurakucho 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?
A rich guy, a castle and a nature preserve walk into a bar… Continue reading What does Shirokane mean?
Went a little long on this on… sorry about that. But I love Tokyo. I wanted to explore the forgotten side… Continue reading What does Edo mean?
10 Quick Questions From Readers!
(Still took 2 days to write… lol) Continue reading 10 Random Quickies – Japan This Lite
Yesterday we learned about Iidabashi (and its precursor, Iidamachi). Today we’ll look at Kudanshita, a location whose recent controversial history has somewhat obscured its samurai origins. Continue reading What does Kudanshita mean?
Today we’ll learn about a shitamachi place name that has disappeared. We’ll also learn how it’s important to pay attention to what reading of kanji is being used. Continue reading What does Iidabashi mean?
Kichijōji, one of the coolest towns in Tokyo looks like a temple name. But if you go to Kichijōji, you won’t find any temples by that name. Today, we’ll find out why there is not temple in Kichijōji called Kichijō-ji. Are you ready to rock? Continue reading What does Kichijoji mean?
Inokashira Park is Kichijoji’s famous park. But did you know that big lake was the source of drinking water for a million people in Edo? Continue reading What does Inokashira mean?
Today’s Tokyo place name is a reader request. The area is decidedly yamanote and was the location of many palatial daimyo residences during the Edo Period, including the lords of Hikone, the Ii clan, including Ii Naosuke, the dude who could have saved the Bakufu. Continue reading What does Yoyogi mean?
The history of today’s place name is going to take us on a long journey across the country to Kyoto and back in time to the Ashikaga Shogunate (and in reality back to the Kamakura and Heian Periods). Plot twists abound. Strap yourselves in and get ready to feel the G’s, baby. Continue reading What does Muromachi mean?
Have you ever seen the old American TV series “Shogun?”
Or have you ever imagined what it would be like if you, a foreigner, were a samurai in feudal Japan? Continue reading What does Anjin-cho mean?
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
Onkyo-in is the grave of the 14th shogun Tokugawa Iesada and his wife Atsu-hime. He was incapable when foreigners knocked on Japan’s door. Continue reading Onkyo-in
Not much to say on the topic of Toshogu (and to some degree, Taiyuin) because so much has already been said. The real meat of this series will be in the shrines that we can’t see today. Continue reading Tosho-gu・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieyasu
Today I’m starting a 16 part series describing the graves of all 15 Tokugawa shoguns. If you’re planning to travel to Japan, and Tokyo in particular, you might want to consider visiting these spots. Unfortunately, there isn’t much left to see in Tokyo, but what is remaining is intriguing! Continue reading Tokugawa Funerary Temples
Kasuga no Tsubone, or Lady Kasuga, was a certified card carrying bad ass of the Muromachi Period and Edo Period. She instituted and managed the shogun’s harem. She had an income equal to that of a feudal lord. She pulled the strings of shogunal succession that guaranteed the ascendancy of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the first peace-time Tokugawa shogun. Tokyo remembers her with a street and train station. lol
Why is Kasuga Street called Kasuga Street? Continue reading What does Kasuga mean?
Today we’ll look at a case of mistaken identity! The so-called “Double Bridge” that isn’t actually a “double bridge.” If you’ve ever been to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo or looked at a Tokyo guidebook, you’ve seen this bridge. Continue reading Nijubashi – Tokyo’s Most Famous Bridge