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Posts Tagged ‘ii’

What does Kioi-chō mean?

In Japanese History on March 23, 2016 at 7:16 am

紀尾井町
Kioi-chō
(Kii Owari Ii Town)

I wasn’t planning on doing this place name because… well, I’ll be honest. I’d never heard of it before. But after my last article on 永田町 Nagata-chō, my friend Rekishi no Tabi[i] got on my case about my treatment of Katō Kiyomasa. In the end, I’m pretty sure we share the same opinions of the dude – or at least of the Tokugawa Shōgunate’s view of him and his family, but our conversation led to an addendum to the article. Then he brought this place name to my attention. It’s inextricably linked to the story of Nagata-chō.

It’s also related to James Bond.

Didn’t see that coming? Neither did I.

First, Let’s Look at the Kanji


ki

Abbreviation of 紀伊
Kii

紀州徳川家
Kishū Tokugawa-ke
Tokugawa of Kishū Domain[ii]


o

Abbreviation of 尾張
Owari

尾張徳川家
Owari Tokugawa-ke
Tokugawa of Owari Domain[iii]


i

Abbreviation of 井伊
Ii

井伊家
Ii-ke
Ii clan of Hikone Domain[iv]

 

If you read your footnotes like a good girl or boy, you should know that the Kii and Owari branches of the Tokugawa family were 2 of the 3 most elite cadastral branches of the family. These bloodlines derived from the male children of Tokugawa Ieyasu who were not in line for succession of the office of shōgun. The Ii family, while not directly related to the 徳川将軍家 Tokugawa Shōgun-ke Tokugawa Shōgun Family, always enjoyed a special connection to the shōgunate and the shōgunate – one that culminated in the appointment of the 16th lord of Hikone Domain, 井伊直弼 Ii Naosuke, as 大老 tairō shōgunal regent.

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So… What’s the Connection?

The name of the area that’s called Kioi-chō today seems to be derived from an Edo Period nickname that blended these 3 names into one. You see, in those days the 中屋敷 naka-yashiki middle residences of Kii, Owari, and the Ii were located in the area. The hill that led up to these palatial estates came to be called 紀尾井坂 Kioi-zaka Ki-O-I Hill.

kioichozaka.jpg

Why the Hell did they Name the Hill?

The explanation is 2-fold, maybe even 3-fold depending on your familiarity with Japan. If you’ve never been to Japan, you’re probably used to streets having names. They’re probably usually laid on in a grid pattern, too. In Tōkyō, street names and grid patterns are the exception, not the rule.

Japanese castle towns – and Edo-Tōkyō in particular – spiral out from the center of the town (ie; the castle). A daimyō would be given a huge estate here, minor shōgunate officials would be assigned there, townspeople would be put in another place, but each 町 chō town was more or less segregated from the other towns. They were also built as needed. From a modern urban planning perspective, this is a nightmare of the highest order. But before you criticize, just know that Rome – arguably the most influential western city of the ancient world developed in a somewhat similar way.

Anyhoo, because of its abundance of alleys and lack of symmetry, naming streets was sort of unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. The local people used landmarks and geographical features to develop a vocabulary of their own to talk about their neighborhoods[v]. The result of this, there is a plethora of geographically-based places names and, yeah, hills get named too. This has given rise to an obscure type of nerd in Japan: the hill nerd. They read about, visit, photograph, and blog about hills in Japan. Their influence is so strong that Tōkyō’s 港区 Minato-ku Minato Ward actually posts signs on all of its major hills that explain the etymology of the name in one or two sentences.

new otani

James Bond in Kioi-chō at the New Otani Hotel… errr, I mean at Osato Chemical & Engineering Co., LTD., a front group for SPECTRE.

It’s James Bond, Bitch. James Bond!

The area is typically 山手 yamanote high city. As such it’s hilly and has a lot of trees and greenery. Many old daimyō residences have been turned into huge office spaces and luxury hotels. Kioi-chō is no different. The area has always been an exclusive residential area, but also an exclusive area for hotels, in particular for minor heads of state and politically connected CEO’s. Because of the area’s proximity to the 国会議事堂 Kokkai Gijidō National Diet and the former residences of the imperial princes in 赤坂 Akasaka and the emperor himself at 旧江戸城 kyū-Edo-jō former Edo Castle, it’s often associated with 議員宿舎 Gi’in Shukusha apartments for the members of the National Diet. If you’re an elected representative from, say, Okinawa, you need a residence in Tōkyō to do your job. Of course, you can buy your own place in Tōkyō or just crash at the place you bought for your mistress, but most likely you’re going to stay at the government subsidized shukusha – especially when your family comes to visit you in the big city because, you know, mistresses.

kioichozaka007.jpg

Oh, look! There’s that hill we’ve heard so much about.

I haven’t seen the movie for ages, so I don’t know if they allude to any of this, but this governmental connection to what the Cold War west would have called the intelligentsia was most likely behind the decision to shoot a certain car chase scene in Kioi-chō in the 1967 James Bond movie 007は二度死ぬ Daburu Ō Sebun Wa Nido Shinu You Only Live Twice. Japan had been a pariah in both the east and west after WWII, and the 1964 Olympics did a lot to showcase a kinder, gentler Japan – a more modern Japan. You Only Live Twice really capitalized on exoticizing Japan – the book does much more than the movie – but it presented Japan as a Cold War ally to the west at a time that China, Korea, and Vietnam were pretty much the de factō enemy communist kids who didn’t play fair in the sandbox.

healthychest

This is Helga Brandt, Mr. Osato’s secretary. She reprimand’s James Bond for smoking, telling him that “Mr. Osato believes in a healthy chest.” No shit. That’s an actual line from this scene. (Later, she’s eaten by piranhas.)

James Bond under the alias Mr. Fisher visits Osato Industries and after the initial meeting receives a death sentence from the company’s CEO. From there, the most geographically ridiculous car chase scene ever ensues. It goes from god-knows-where to Kioi-chō/Akasaka/Nagata-chō to the Japanese countryside and then back to the Bay Area where you can see Tōkyō Tower.

But if all of that wasn’t mind blowing; get this! The screenplay was written by Roald fucking Dahl. Does that name sound familiar? That’s the guy who wrote Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

 

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[i] Not only is Rekishi no Tabi a dude who knows his shit about Japanese History, he’s an amazing photographer who produces some of the most awe inspiring photography of Japan. Sometimes I take a nice picture here and there, but he’s the real “Photography Yoda” of Japanese History. I highly recommend that you follow his work on Flickr.
[ii] The Kii Tokugawa were one of the 御三家 go-san-ke 3 Honorable Families – branches of the main Tokugawa line that could provide a male heir to be accepted into the 徳川将軍家 Tokugawa Shōgun-ke Tokugawa Shōgun Family in the case the main line couldn’t produce a successor itself. The go-san-ke  were the Mito Tokugawa, the Owari Tokugawa, and the Kii Tokugawa.
[iii] The Owari Tokugawa were one of the 御三家 go-san-ke 3 Honorable Families – branches of the main Tokugawa line that could provide a male heir to be accepted into the 徳川将軍家 Tokugawa Shōgun-ke Tokugawa Shōgun Family in the case the main line couldn’t produce a successor itself. The go-san-ke  were the Mito Tokugawa, the Owari Tokugawa, and the Kii Tokugawa.
[iv] The Ii were longtime allies of the Tokugawa in Western Japan since the Sengoku Period.
[v] This is still very much a feature of giving directions or talking about places in Tōkyō today. “Go straight 2 blocks on 1st street, turn right. Walk 3 blocks on Pine Avenue, turn left on 5th Street, and the post office is on your right” just doesn’t work. Usually what you’ll hear is something more along the lines of “Go straight. When you see the train station, turn right. Go straight and when you see bakery, turn left. The post office will be on your right hand side. It’s across from the bookstore.”

What does Setagaya mean?

In Japanese History on July 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm

世田谷
Setagaya (Valley of the Eternal Rice Paddy)

All of Setagaya looks like this.  Every last bit of it. And they have flying monkeys too...

All of Setagaya looks like this.
Every last bit of it.
And they have flying monkeys too…

This place name is ancient. So take all of this with a grain of salt. But the generally accepted theory is as follows.

瀬戸 seto usually means a strait, as in the Strait of Gibraltar[i], but in Old Japanese, it could also be applied to 谷地 yachi a narrow marsh in a valley. In the old dialect of the area, it’s said that word seto was pronounced seta and written 瀬田 seta. Old Japanese had two possessive particles. Modern Japanese uses の no, but Old Japanese also used が ga. It survives in place names all over the country, the most famous being 関ヶ原 Sekigahara[ii], which literally means “the checkpoint gatehouse’s prairie/field.” Thus 瀬田ヶ谷 seta ga ya meant something like 瀬田の谷地 seta no yachi “the narrow marsh in the valley’s narrow marsh in the valley,” which I would have said was a totally ridiculous name, if they had asked me. But they didn’t.

Eventually, the first kanji was swapped out with 世 se “generation, world” because it’s an auspicious character. 世田 sounds like rice paddies that are bountiful forever, hence my translation of “Valley of the Eternal Rice Paddy.” Also, is a standard ateji character. It was so common in phonetic renderings that the shorthand form of became katakana セ se.

The first attestation of the name is in 1376 as 世田谷郷 Setagaya-gō Setagaya Hamlet. By the Edo Period, the town was listed as 世田谷村 Setagaya Mura Setagaya Village and this name lasted until the Meiji Era. In the Edo Period it was not part of the city of Edo, but of 荏原郡 Ebara-gun Ebara District of 武蔵国 Musashi no kuni Musashi Province[iii]. In 1871, when the 廃藩置県 haihan-chiken[iv] the abolition of domain and establishment of prefectures was enacted, the eastern section of what is now Setagaya Ward was absorbed into 東京市 Tōkyō-shi Tōkyō City within 東京府 Tōkyō-fu Tōkyō Prefecture. In 1936, the boundaries of present day Setagaya Ward were pretty much fixed. It became a special ward of the newly created Tōkyō Metropolis in 1946 and lived happily ever after.

Maneki Neko

Maneki Neko

Oh wait, I forgot something kinda cool.

So that cat is called 招キ猫 maneki neko, it’s kind of a good look charm for businesses in Japan. 招く maneku means to invite or beckon and 猫 neko means cat[v]. There are a few origin stories for this good luck charm. One involves Setagaya Ward.

The story goes that once upon a time, there was an impoverished temple called 豪徳寺 Gōtoku-ji. Even though the head priest of the temple had barely enough food for himself, he took in a white stray cat and cared for him. Nice guy.

The temple isn't impoverished anymore.  They have a huge market share of the crappy cat statue market in Tokyo.

The temple isn’t impoverished anymore.
They have captured a huge share of the crappy cat statue market in Tokyo.

According to the legend, the daimyō of Hikone Domain, Ii Naotaka[vi], a contemporary of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hidetada, was passing through Setagaya Village with his entourage as a storm was coming up. As Naotaka’s group passed by the temple, the daimyō noticed the white cat beckoning them to enter the temple precinct. As it was totally about to rain, he and his group commandeered the temple for shelter. It started raining and maybe some lightning struck somewhere and, you know, some legend shit happened. I dunno, maybe it was a crazy storm.

Naotaka was thankful for being able to take shelter at the temple. As a result he requested to make the temple the Ii clan’s 菩提寺 bodai-ji funerary temple in Edo and the family made endowments to the temple and basically just made it rain[vii] on them throughout the Edo Period. As a result the family of the priest attributed the family/temple’s good luck to the white cat[viii]. And they found another awesome way to make money. They  started selling little white cats and telling people that if you buy this little white cat, a hereditary daimyō  might pass by your place and start throwing money at you for 2 and a half centuries. Well, anything’s possible, right?

The Grave of Ii Naosuke, one of the best dudes the late shogunate produced who had a really bad day on March 24, 1860.

The Grave of Ii Naosuke, one of the best dudes the late shogunate produced who had a really bad day on March 24, 1860.

Anyhoo, whatever you think of this story, the Ii clan was definitely a major patron of the club, err, I mean temple. The place is definitely in Setagaya Ward. The temple plays up the maneki neko story and the characters is known far and wide. Even in the ancestral Ii lands based around Hikone Castle, they use a cat character called Hikonyan, a reference to the maneki neko legend.


[i] I don’t know why I gave this example. After all, there are perfectly good Japanese examples.

[ii] As in the Battle of Sekigahara which secured Tokugawa Ieyasu’s position of dominance over Japan. This set the stage for him being granted the title 征夷大将軍 sei-i taishōgun, commander-in-chief of the expeditionary forces against the eastern barbarians, as they say.

[iii] See my article on Shimo-Kitazawa for another passing reference.

[iv] Not to be confused with the 廃藩痴漢 haihan chikan the public groping abolition of domains.

[v] It’s also slang for a “submissive” male homosexual.

[vi] I don’t want to get side tracked, but he is the illustrious ancestor of the no-less illustrious Ii Naosuke who was the regent of the clown shōgun, Tokugawa Iesada.

[vii] Make it rain. If you haven’t experienced this, then (a) you’re not a stripper or (b) you’re not rich or (c) you haven’t lived your life vicariously through rich people and strippers like me.

[viii] Because religious people love to thank imaginary shit instead of the people who actually help them.

Onkyoin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 14, 2013 at 4:49 am

温恭院
Onkyōin
 (Divine Prince of Warm Respect)
十三代将軍徳川家定公
13th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Iesada
Kan’ei-ji

Tokugawa Iesada. He was the wrong guy for the job at the most critical time.

Tokugawa Iesada. He was the wrong guy for the job at the most critical time. These days, his wife is more famous than he was.

I have a little confession to make. I’ve been treating the 院号 ingō “-in names” as translatable words, but in fact, they aren’t. Just like if your name is Peter, it would be impossible to translate the meaning into another language. There might be a history of the name in your family or you might be named after another person or someone might know the Biblical allusion of the word. Someone might even know that the root of the word is the Greek word for “stone.”

Names are complicated things. Posthumous names are basically foreign names to the Japanese. They look like magical words and religious words. They have a recognizable form (ie; the kanji are familiar). If you understand the kanji, you can get a feeling from the ideography, but that’s about it.

In each installment of this series, I’ve been translating these in the headings of each article. Some translate well. Some don’t. But remember, no Japanese ever looked at those names as a sentence or phrase. But there may be a meaning. Your grandfather was John, so you’re a John, too. Your mom loves tacos, so you’re Jesus. Your parents thought Death Note was the coolest story ever, so now you’re forever known as Light.

The difference is here: Your parents chose a name before you were born. When they chose the name, they didn’t know shit about the you that’s reading this blog. But the imperial courtiers or Buddhist monks who chose the posthumous names of shōguns usually chose these names based on the characteristics of their rule[i].

Then we get to Iesada. Like many of the final shōguns, he fell into the historically unenviable position of being an out of touch, spoiled aristocrat in the midst of a cultural revolution he couldn’t possibly recognize. And so we get this bizarre funerary name. One can’t help wonder if it was a joke or an honest to Buddha posthumous name. I get the feeling, the imperial court who granted the name were taking the piss. Iesada welcomed the foreigners into the country as if he/Japan were a hot bath.

Or who knows? Maybe they were being sincere and thought Iesada welcomed Buddist enlightenment into his heart warmly…

Commodore Perry asked a lot of the Japan.

Commodore Perry asked a lot of the Japan.
But from the foreign point of view it wasn’t so much.
A decent port for trade helps everyone, right?

Either way, the imperial court in Kyoto was now headed by the Emperor Kōmei, who was rabidly xenophobic and was basically begging the shōgun to expel the foreigners from Japan. After all, that’s the job of the shōgun – at least etymologically speaking[ii].

Doesn’t matter anyways… Iesada was only shōgun for 5 years. He died at the age of 34 without an heir. His shōgunate had been overseen by the fully capable and somewhat forward thinking Ii Naosuke who understood well that Japan had fallen behind other countries technologically and couldn’t exist in a vacuum. Naosuke was a brilliant man who oversaw Iesada’s reign until he was famously attacked and murdered in front of Edo Castle in 1860[iii].

Wait a minute!

You just said Iesada was 34 when he died.

Why was there a regent when we have a shōgun in his early 30’s?

check out the confidence of this guy. He's all like, bitch, i AM the shogun! -- my man, Ii Naosuke

Check out the confidence of this guy. He’s all like, bitch, i AM the shogun!
— my man, Ii Naosuke

There are loads of book you can read about the succession disputes of the late shōgunate, but in Iesada’s case it all comes down to the fact that despite being the worst candidate for shōgun, he was made shōgun[iv].  He was most likely mentally retarded or so incapable of doing the job[v] that another daimyō[vi] had to step in steer the ship in the right direction.

His last wife was an arranged marriage to Princess Atsu.

Apparently she was his mental superior many times over and she lived well into the Meiji Era raising the 16th head of the Tokugawa Shōgun Family. There’s an NHK Taiga Drama about her, called Atsu-hime.

13737579919122526b9e96e09ef3cc9e8b0c1f37.97.2.9.2

Iesada's Grave at Kan'ei-ji. Hist wife, Atsu-hime's grave is more popular! (But you'll probably never see either....

Iesada’s Grave at Kan’ei-ji. Hist wife, Atsu-hime’s grave is more popular! (But you’ll probably never see either….)

a worthless picture of a worthless shogun...

a worthless picture of a worthless shogun…

Years apart, they were both interred 合祀 gōshistyle at 常憲院  Eikyūin, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi’s funerary complex. Iesada died in 1858. Atsu-hime dies in 1883. Iesada didn’t have a clue what the fuck was going on. Atsu-hime witnessed, the fall of the shōgunate, the Boshin War, the surrender of Edo Castle to the Emperor, Edo changing to Tōkyō, and that weird e-mail your mom drunk texted last night.

If you want to read about Eikyūin, please read here.

 

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[i] In an autocratic society, take that with a grain few spoonfuls of salt.

[ii] 将軍 shōgun shōgun is short for 征夷大将軍 sei-i tai-shōgun, lead general against the foreign barbarians. It was a title that was hard to take seriously when the invading forces were technologically superior, more international and in many ways considered the shōgunate mediaeval and, quite frankly “barbaric.” Up until now, it had been good to be the shōgun. Now it sucked to be the shōgun.

[iii] The other day, I said the beginning of the Bakumatsu was the arrival of the Black Ships in 1853. Other historians say it began with the assassination of Ii Naosuke. The assumption is that had Naosuke not been murdered and had Tokugawa Yoshinobu been selected as the next shōgun, Japan would have been strong enough to deal with the foreign issue on Edo’s terms with the support of the domains.

[iv] Cadet branches of the Tokugawa were vying for power….

[v] Imagine if a Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann or a George Bush had been elected office… oh, wait a minute….

[vi] ie; Ii Naosuke.

Why is Marunouchi called Marunouchi?

In Japanese History on May 6, 2013 at 1:03 am

丸ノ内
Marunouchi  (Inside the Circle; more at “Inside the Moat”)

CGI Tokyo Station

CGI Tokyo Station with smoke coming out of a turret.

The derivation of today’s place name is pretty famous, even among foreigners. It’s so famous that even the English version of Wikipedia got it right.

The area was part of the old Hibiya Inlet which fell under the influence of Chiyoda Castle (Edo Castle) and merged into the castle and Yamanote district.

丸 maru (literally circle) was used to refer to 城内 jōnai (inner) castle grounds*  Buildings inside the moat (usually ring shaped) had names like 本丸 honmaru (main citadel), 二ノ丸 ninomaru (secondary citadel), 三ノ丸 sannomaru (tertiary citadel), etc**.  The shōgun (or lord) lived in the honmaru (first citadel) as it was surrounded by all the other maru. By this system of naming, it’s easy to see how 丸ノ内 Marunouchi (inside the circle) could refer to buildings inside the moat (scil; the circle).

Marunouchi - like all of Tokyo, looks nothing like its former self.

I’ve highlighted the “Daimyo Alley,” but in reality, you can see that a lot of other nobles’ residences fall within the “Marunouchi” area. What’s a “Daimyo Alley?” Keep reading!

Over the years Marunouchi has been written a few ways,
the last two being preferred these days:

丸内
丸之内
丸ノ内
丸の内

丸ノ内 Marunouchi was colloquially referred to as 大名小路 daimyō kōji daimyō alley***. It was located on the castle grounds, between the outer moat and inner moat on a small man-made island with its own system of gates and mitsuke’s that made it more or less indistinguishable from the castle proper.

Today, nothing remains of the castle in the area so it’s hard to imagine that this was part of the outermost ring of Japan’s largest castle. However, in the Edo Period, the area was extremely important to the shōgunate. At one point there were 24 daimyō residences here. A list of noble names makes up its residences: Ii, Honda, Sakai, Sakakibara, and Hitotsubashi & Matsudaira**** – to name a few. The daimyō who lived here were mostly hereditary vassals of the Tokugawa shōgun family. That is to say, they were the elite of the elite and the closest to the shōgun. That’s why it was so important that they have palaces within the castle walls.

Daimyo Alley → Marunouchi

The red street is the actual “alley.” From the border of Yurakucho to Tokyo Station to the border of Otemachi is generally considered Marunouchi today, but as you can see other areas were also “inside the moat.”

In the Meiji Era (here we go again), the daimyō were all kicked out and daimyō lands were all confiscated by the new Imperial government.  It seems that the daimyō residences were all knocked down and the area became a training ground for the Imperial Army. A lot of the land was eventually purchased by the forerunner of the Mitsubishi Group and still remains their real estate (can anyone say good business deal?).

Daimyo Alley → Mitsubishigahara → Marunouchi

Mitsubishigahara circa 1902. Not sure what that white building is. Maybe it’s Kochi domain’s upper residence being used as an impromptu office for the Tokyo Governor. Just speculating.

This unsigned oil painting is assumed to also be from 1902. The building in the background is an unknown western style mansion. Until development began in earnest most buildings here were wood, so this is mysterious house is... well, a mystery.

This unsigned oil painting is assumed to also be from 1902. The building in the background is an unknown western style mansion. Until development began in earnest most buildings here were wood, so this is mysterious house is… well, a mystery.

Since the area was just grass and roads and barracks, when Mitsubishi knocked down the few remaining the structures the area was basically a field. In fact from 1890 to about 1910 only the Tōkyō Municipal Government Building and a few Mitsubishi buildings stood in 三菱ヶ原 Mitsubishigahara Mitsubishi Fields. Mitsubishi used the area to build up a central business district and the completion of Tōkyō Station in 1914 definitely sped up that process.

2 rare photos of the original Meiji Era municipal office of Tokyo based in the upper residence of Kochi in Marunouchi's

2 rare photos of the original Meiji Era municipal office of Tokyo based in the upper residence of Kochi in Marunouchi’s “Daimyo Alley.”

Much of the outer moat was filled in after WWII during the massive building efforts that eventually propelled Japan into its legendary “bubble economy.” In fact, if you look back at my articles on Nihonbashi, Kyōbashi, Hatchōbori, Akasaka and Akasaka-mitsuke, you’ll see that most of those areas are all on solid ground now with no moats or canals in sight. The ability to walk (without crossing a bridge from Marunouchi to Yaesu and then to Edomachi (Nihonbashi) would have been shocking to a resident of Edo (read those other links to figure out why)

A view of

A view of “Maruonuchi” from Wadakura Gate. A little bit of Edo still exists…

Today the old Daimyō Alley includes:
Tōkyō Station (about 12 residences stood here)
Hitotsubashi Junction
Ōtemachi (about 10 residences stood here)
Hibiya Station (but not Hibiya Park; about 4 residences)
Yūrakuchō (about 8 residences)
The Kubizuka of Taira no Masakado (one of the most haunted spots in Tōkyō;
daimyō families whose residences maintained the kubizuka were the Doi and Sakai)
The Imperial Palace Park (Kōkyo Gaien) (formerly 9 major residences occupied this space;
it could be argued that this was part of the castle and not daimyō alley)

Bad Ass.

a view of Marunouchi from the Imperial Palace.

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* 丸 maru can also be referred to as or 曲輪, both read as kuruwa.
**Another set of synonyms to 本丸 and the like existed: ―ノ郭, 一ノ曲輪 ichinokuruwa (first citadel), 二ノ郭, 二ノ曲輪 ninokuruwa (second citadel), etc.
*** The area called “Daimyō Alley” took its name from main north/south running street. You can see it on the map. The nickname came to refer the area in general. That said, this was the only long, straight street. Most streets around the castle were intentionally maze-like.
**** Matsudaira, as you may already know, was the Tokugawa family before Ieyasu took the Tokugawa name. For reasons I don’t want to get into now, if you see the kanji (taira/daira) in an old Japanese name, you can assume it’s a noble name. Hitotsubashi is also a collateral family of the Tokugawa.  Fans of the Sengoku era will know why I listed the other 4 names.

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PS: for all info about Japanese castles, please check out: Jcastle.info.
PPS: for all info about samurai, please check out: Samurai-Archives.
PPPS: for a fucking awesome collection of pictures of Tokyo Station, please check out: Japan Web Magazine.

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