Categories
Japanese History

The History of Hanami

We all love hanami and sakura, but where did it all start? Let’s take a look at the history of hanami.

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Japan Book Reviews

Book Review – Hiroshige: 100 Famous Views of Edo

This beautiful book let’s the art speak for itself but provides print-by-print commentary. It’s a coffee table book that I find irresistible. Of course, I’m biased. Hiroshige is my favorite Japanese artist.

Categories
Japan Book Reviews

Book Review – Tokyo: From Edo to Showa

Wanna read a book about how Edo became Tokyo? This one might be for you!

Categories
Japan Book Reviews Japanese History

Book Review – Samurai Revolution

Hillsborough’s books have been “gateway drugs” into the Bakumatsu for many people, including myself. Here he takes a long form scholarly approach and nails it.

Categories
Japanese History Tokyo Rivers Travel in Japan

The Kanda River

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.

Categories
Japanese History

You Know You’ve Been in Edo Too Long…

Thanks to all of you, let’s keep this YOU KNOW YOU’VE BEEN IN EDO TOO LONG thing going!!!

Categories
Japan

Questions from Readers

Wanna support the blog? It would mean a lot if you did!
If not, that’s OK, I made you a video today.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Toranomon mean?

I’m not even joking when I say I think this name was chosen just because it sounded cool.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Katsushika mean?

Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward and Saitama’s Kita-Katsushika and Minami Katsushika Districts derive their names from the pre-modern Katsushika District of Shimōsa Province, but where did the ancient name come from?

Categories
Japanese History

What does Yurakucho 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.

Categories
Japan Japanese Castles Travel in Japan

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 […]

Categories
Japanese Castles Japanese History

What does Shirokane mean?

A rich guy, a castle and a nature preserve walk into a bar…

Categories
Japanese Castles Japanese History

What does Edo mean?

Went a little long on this on… sorry about that. But I love Tokyo. I wanted to explore the forgotten side…

Categories
Japanese History

What does Mamiana-cho mean?

Before the Scientific Method arrived, scholars and common folk grouped animals in according to a traditional Sino-Japanese methodology. Today’s place name bears evidence to that grouping methodology.

Categories
Japan This Lite Japanese History

10 Random Quickies – Japan This Lite

10 Quick Questions From Readers!
(Still took 2 days to write… lol)

Categories
Japan Japanese Holidays Travel in Japan

Edo River Fireworks

Summer in Japan means matsuri (festivals), hanabi (fireworks), and fuzoku (prostitution). Today we’ll look at the first two!

Categories
Japanese History Japanese Shrines & Temples

What does Senju mean?

In the Edo Period, Senju was a hub to some of the most prestigious destinations of the Era. It was a launch pad for many travelers in the realm, but it was a particularly special hub for the Shogun Family.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Musashi mean?

Musashi was an old Japanese province, however the name is still with us today.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Kudanshita mean?

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.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Iidabashi 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.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Inokashira 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?

Categories
Japanese History

What does Ryogoku mean?

I love the shitamachi style of Tokyo. It really helps me connect with history.
If you want to travel to Japan, Ryogoku should be high on your list of places to go. Sumo, samurai, 37 ronin, Japanese food, and Japanese girls in glasses (OK, I made up the last one…)

Categories
Japanese History

What does Muromachi 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.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Akabane mean?

赤羽Akabane (Red Wings; but more at Red Clay) Today’s place name etymology is a pretty interesting one because we will get a sneak peak at the extinct pre-Edo Period dialect of the area. Akabane sits in the northern part of Kita Ward. It’s basically next to Kawakuchi, Saitama. So it’s on the literal outskirts of […]

Categories
Japanese History

What does Okachimachi mean?

Between Ueno and Akihabara there is Okachimachi. Awwwwwww yeah.

Categories
Japanese History Japanese Shrines & Temples Tokugawa Shogun Graves Travel in Japan

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.

Categories
Japanese History Japanese Shrines & Temples Tokugawa Shogun Graves Travel in Japan

Shomyo-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Iemochi

We’re at the twilight of Tokugawa power in Japan – the 14th shogun, Tokugawa Iemochi.

Categories
Japanese History Japanese Shrines & Temples Tokugawa Shogun Graves Travel in Japan

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.

Categories
Japanese History Japanese Shrines & Temples Tokugawa Shogun Graves Travel in Japan

Tosho-gu・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieyasu

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.

Categories
Japanese History

What does Toshima mean?

Ota Dokan again?

Yes. Since I talked about Shakujii and Nerima last week, this week I’ve decided to hit the next most closely related topics; Toshima, Kita, and Itabashi. By Wednesday… and with the help of a simple map, you’ll probably see what’s going on here clearly.