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Posts Tagged ‘hatchobori’

Why is Kyōbashi called Kyōbashi?

In Japanese History on April 19, 2013 at 1:04 am

京橋
Kyōbashi (Capital Bridge)

What does Kyobashi mean?

The area surrounding Kyobashi Station is in yellow. Note the other major areas, Ginza, Hatchobori, Nihonbashi, and Takaracho. Also note Tokyo Station.

OK, I still haven’t written about the 五街道 Go-kaidō the 5 Highways or Nihonbashi yet, so bear with me.
Oh… I haven’t written about the capital of Japan yet, so bear with me.
Dammit! I haven’t written about 参勤交代 sankin-kōtai (mandatory service to the shōgun) yet! I’m sorry.
Please, please, please, bear with me.

WHEN SORRY ISN'T ENOUGH

I promise to write the rest of the entrees that are necessary soon. After I commit seppuku.

In the Edo Period, there were 5 main roads that connected the domains with the capital in Edo. When Ieyasu began developing Edo as his new capital, he had to connect the city to the rest of Japan. At first, the most important city to connect with Edo was Kyōto because the 朝廷 chōtei Imperial Court was there.

Long story short, the road that connected Tōkyō and Kyōto was called the Tōkaidō. The Tōkaidō began at Nihonbashi (The Bridge to Japan). You’d start in the commercial district and then cross a bridge and head out of the city. As more roads were built to facilitate 参勤交代 sankin-kōtai alternate attendance duty and other travel needs they all had their starting point/termination at Nihonbashi. Edo, being a castle town, was arranged in small neighborhoods and deliberately without a grid (for protection). In the early days of the shōganate, getting out of the city might prove difficult or at least a waste of time if you got lost. So once you crossed Nihonbashi, you passed through 江戸町 Edo no machi, a merchant district, headed south on a road towards 京橋 Kyōbashi.  Once you passed this bridge, you knew you were pointed in the right direction.

Kyobashi in the Edo Period. Sometimes I can't believe that such a beautiful view is what Tokyo is today. The shogun's capital was without a doubt, one of the finest cities in the world.

Kyobashi in the Edo Period. Sometimes I can’t believe that such a beautiful view is what Tokyo is today. The shogun’s capital was without a doubt, one of the finest cities in the world.

Wait a minute. You said 京橋 means “Capital Bridge.”
So why is this bridge taking us out of the capital???

京都 Kyōto means “The Capital, biaaatch.” And in the old days the city was generally just referred to as 京 Kyō “the capital.” In reality, the capital was officially wherever the emperor lived – an argument can still be made for this denomination even today.

Of course, in the Edo Period, the shōgun lived in Tōkyō. It was the de facto capital and by the middle of the Edo Period there was hardly any pretense in calling Kyōto the capital. But that was the name of the city. So Kyōbashi actually had two nuances. If you were leaving, it was the bridge to imperial capital and if you were coming, it was the bridge to the shōganal capital (scil; Edo).

The original Kyōbashi spanned the 京橋川 Kyōbashigawa Kyōbashi River. To the west was Edo Castle, in particular the so-called 大名小路 daimyō kōji daimyō alley (present day Marunouchi). To the east was Takarachō and Hatchōbori.

Kyobashi in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. Total destruction, but the bridge survived and served the city well.

Kyobashi in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. Total destruction, but the bridge survived and served the city well.

This picture is also after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The destruction doesn't seem as bad as the former picture. It was taken in the same year as the disaster, but since things seem a little more back to normal, I'm going to guess that this is later that year -- or straight up mislabeled -- but definitely the city seems on its way to recovery.

This picture is also after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The destruction doesn’t seem as bad as the former picture. It was taken in the same year as the disaster, but since things seem a little more back to normal, I’m going to guess that this is later that year — or straight up mislabeled — but definitely the city seems on its way to recovery.

Today, if you walk down from the starting point of the Tōkaidō in Nihonbashi to Kyōbashi station and walk all the way to the expressway, you’ve followed – more or less – the old Tōkaidō road.

In the 1870’s, a stone bridge was built. In 1922, a second wider bridge was built. It withstood the Great Kantō Earthquake like a champ and stayed there until a decade or so after WWII. In 1959 the river was filled in and the bridge disappeared. If you go to the location of the former bridge, you can view the course of the river roughly by following the 東京高速道路 Tōkyō Kōsoku Dōro Tōkyō Expressway from the Marunouchi Exit to the Kyōbashi Exit – easily done on foot. The original bridge stood in 京橋3丁目 Kyōbashi sanchōme near Kyōbashi Station.

One of the original bridge markers from the 1875 Meiji Period bridge remains as a memorial.

One of the original bridge markers from the 1875 Meiji Period bridge remains as a memorial.

A single bridge marker from the Taisho Era bridge remains. The Taisho Era bridge survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII. It's final demise came with the filling in of the river in the 1950's.

A single bridge marker from the Taisho Era bridge remains. The Taisho Era bridge survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII. It’s final demise came with the filling in of the river in the 1950’s. That’s a bad ass stone bridge. Bad Ass!!!

Why is Hatchōbori called Hatchōbori

In Japanese History on April 18, 2013 at 1:58 am

八丁堀
Hacchōbori/Hatchōbori (872.72m Moat)
(two ways to write it in the Roman alphabet, I prefer the former, Hacchōbori, but the later, Hatchōbori, is more common in the Romanization rules used in Tōkyō street signs and train signs, etc.)

Where am i?

Hey look! It’s a sign that says “Hacchobori!”

I had a seriously busy weekend, but I’m trying my best to keep updating this blog Monday through Friday, saving all my free time for research. Next month, I’ll be changing projects, so my weekends will become tight. Not sure what will happen. I think I’ll still have time for updates, but please bear with me if the posts get shorter. I won’t compromise the integrity of my research into these topics, but I might choose easier place names when I have no time.

As always, I want to hear your questions and am happy to take your requests. The more of those the better, actually. I love your questions because they take me out of my own head and let me see what my readers are interested in. So please, keep ‘em coming.

Today we’re talking about 八丁堀 Hatchōbori, the Eight-chō Canal.

What does Hatchobori mean?

That doesn’t look like 873 meters.

This is another generic place name; like Gotanda, like Ueno, like Nakano.

The place name was originally written as 八町堀. The name was made of 3 kanji: 八 hachi, 町 chō a unit of measurement (1=109.09m), and 堀 hori  (channel or moat). The station and the area is near Edo Castle, so it’s obvious that this was a reference to the castle. It’s not a defensive moat, it’s a canal. In the Edo Period the best way to transport goods within a city was often by a small boat on a canal. This canal happened to be about half a mile long. Good for it.

What does Hacchobori mean?

I’ve always wanted to take a boat tour of Tokyo. One of these days…

Why did the middle kanji become ?

The second character is just a simplified variant of the first. Both forms are used in modern Japanese.

Most of the channel was filled in during the 50’s and 60’s, but some of it remains and still has a few boats in it.

There was an old TV show set in the Edo Period called 八丁堀ノ七人 Hatchobori no Shichinin The Hatchōbori Seven. I’ve never seen the show (and hadn’t even heard of it until now), but supposedly it ran for 3 years. The show featured seven “detectives” who lived in Hatchōbori. I don’t know if there’s any truth to “police” living in this area or not. But it looks like those weird samurai TV that are made for old people.

What does ___ mean in Japanese?

The area that is now called Hatchobori is in dark red.

Why is Kayabacho called Kayabacho?

In Japanese History on April 5, 2013 at 1:08 am

茅場町
Kayabachō (Hay Market)

Why is Kayabachō called Kayabachō?

Kayabachō Station Today

Today’s Tōkyō place name is simple. It’s made of 3 kanji: kaya (hay, straw), ba (place) and chō (town, neighborhood). It sounds so strange in a supermodern, bustling international metropolis like Tōkyō, but there it is. It’s actually a major business and financial center. During the day time it’s salarymen everywhere. At night it’s drunk salarymen for a little while and then it turns into a ghost town.

So why is there an area called “straw place town” in the middle of central Tōkyō?

This area was originally a plain full of nice grass, so when Edo Castle was being built, they came here to get straw for the thatched roofs of some of the buildings. So the area naturally became known as THE place for buying straw for all of Edo’s thatched-roofing needs.

Japanese thatched roof

This isn’t Edo Castle, but this is a typical Japanese thatched roof of a nice building.

I’ve looked all over for pictures buildings in Edo Castle with thatched roofs but I couldn’t find anything. So by the Bakumatsu they’d either replaced all of the roofs with nice fireproof tiles… or through some strange coincidence no one managed to photograph any of those buildings. My guess is that in 250 years of rule, the Tokugawa found the time and money to upgrade.

Kayabacho immediately after the great Kanto Earthquake (1923). This is the oldest picture I've seen of the area. I can't tell if the empty areas a debris and collapsed buildings or yards and fields...

Kayabacho immediately after the great Kanto Earthquake (1923). This is the oldest picture I’ve seen of the area. I can’t tell if the empty areas a debris and collapsed buildings or yards and fields… Also, I’m not 100% sure, but I’m willing to bet that most of those buildings are storehouses/warehouses and not homes. (If anyone can shed light on this picture, I would be most appreciative!)

Actually, I tried to find pictures of Kayabachō from the Bakumatsu and Meiji Periods and I couldn’t find anything on the web. I’ll keep looking and update this page with a picture if I find something.

If you, dear reader, know of pictures of Kayabachō from the old days, let me know!

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