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Waku Waku News!!!

In Japan, Uncategorized on September 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Waku Waku Nyūsu (Exciting News)

Japan This T-Shirts

I bet you’ve never seen a t-shirt that said Iriteppo Deonna before!

OK, so I’m excited and depressed at the same time. I’m excited because this blog has taken off and become much more than I had ever expected. I’m also excited because I’ve implemented 2 new dimensions to the site – which I also never expected.

The thing I’m not excited about is asking for donations. And maybe there’s never a cool way to do this. I spend most of my time working – as do most people. And then I spend the rest of my time researching[i], writing, and editing this blog. It’s a labor of love, really. But it’s like having a part time job in addition to my regular job and regular life. I have a dream of one day moving Japan This off of Word Press’s free system and onto a dedicated server (because then I use plug-ins to enhance the experience (many missed opportunities up until now[ii]) and many more ideas about growing the site.

As I’m not bent on world domination and I’m not so interested in making a profit (because I just love writing this blog too much to stop!!!), I’ve decided that crowd sourcing is the way to go. That way it’s voluntary. If you want to and have the means to contribute, it would mean a lot to me (and my readers who can’t afford to contribute).

One of my favorite blogs is a pay only blog[iii]. I don’t know of any other blog like that. But I would never charge anyone to access my blog. I believe in a free exchange of information and ideas. But I know some people who copy and paste and pass on said dude’s blog to other people. In short, it’s a stupid way to run a blog. Granted he has thousands and thousands of readers, I only have… well, about a thousand.

Anyways, I’m babbling….

So here’s what I thought. If every individual reader who liked Japan This! and wanted more content just contributed a few dollars, just a few, it might help me move the site to a server with unlimited space and the ability to add enhancements that I can’t do currently.

I’ve thought of two ways to contribute:

Click this image to become a patron of Japan This!

Click this image to become a patron of Japan This!


Patreon is a donation website designed for musicians, artists, vloggers, etc. It’s a service that lets fans say thank you to their favorite creators. Hopefully some of you dig Japan This! enough to contribute a little bit. As the name suggests, you would become a patron of this site. You can make a one-time donation or set up monthly payments. And, of course, you can cancel at any time. So if I start writing utter garbage at some point you can pull the plug on me. lol

The Japan This Shop is waiting for you with super-geek chic that you've never seen before!

The Japan This Shop is waiting for you with super-geek chic that you’ve never seen before!


(I got this idea from my friends at, who you really should visit.)

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of what’s in there right now. Anyone who reads this blog seems pretty down with the Japanese History thing. They also seem to be pretty geeky and down with obscure references, my bad jokes, and Japanese History. Yes, I just repeated myself.

In the past, I’ve mentioned making a 入鉄砲出女 iriteppō deonna T-shirt. In the middle of my 16 part series on the Tokugawa Funerary Temples, I also mentioned in passing that I should make a T-shirt about writing “new funerary content.” And the other day when I wrote “What does Edo mean?,” it turned into a gargantuan post well over 5000 words and I mused that I should turn that article into a T-shirt.

Well, now that fantasy is a reality in the  Japan This! Café Press Shop.

Ever seen a blog on a t-shirt before?

Ever seen a Japanese History blog on a t-shirt before?

Speaking honestly, if you donate through PATREON, 100% goes to me for maintaining this site. I think this is the best way to do it. If you can donate this way, there’s a way to leave a message when you donate. If you do that, I’ll mention you in an article[iv] and help promote you the best I can. So Patreon is a 100% pure donation.

When you buy at the Café Press shop, I get a couple of dollars here and there off of each purchase. Café Press gets most of your money. But at least you can get a cool Japanese History T-Shirt or sticker or magnet or something with original designs.

Again, I feel shitty asking for donations, but I really want to upgrade the site and give it a permanence and usability that it doesn’t have now. So that’s why I’m asking for your help. And even if no one donates anything, the site isn’t going anywhere. I’ll continue to write. Just would be nice to take things to the next level together with you.

And as I mentioned, if you want to tell the world you support Japan This!, when you donate thru Patreon, you can leave a message and if you want me to, occasionally I’ll give shout outs to donators. And if you buy Japan This! Goods at Café Press, upload a picture of yourself wearing (or using) your new item to the Japan This! Facebook page!

Ii Naosuke on a T-Shirt?? Where have you been all my life??

Ii Naosuke on a T-Shirt?? Where have you been all my life??

This design is available, but Cafe Press won't let me advertise it. It says "Fucking American."  I wear mine everywhere.

This design is available, but Cafe Press won’t let me advertise it. It says “Fucking American.”
I wear mine everywhere.

[i] Research is the most time consuming part of the blog because I tend to cover topics that aren’t available in English.

[ii] The main feature I’d like to add is clickable footnotes. Right now my footnotes are annoying as hell on long posts. But on Word Press’ free service I’m doing all I can do.

[iii] Don’t worry. The guy’s not being a dick. The proceeds are donated to charity.

[iv] Only If you want me to. The system is anonymous by default.

What does Iidabashi mean?

In Japanese History on July 2, 2013 at 2:00 am

Iidabashi (Iida Bridge)

Iidabashi Station

Iidabashi Station

When you first start learning kanji, you start noticing characters everywhere. In writing, they always have a context, so it’s possible to figure out what’s going on. In place names, often the characters seem totally random. And even when something should be painfully obvious, it often isn’t. The name Iidabashi stumped me for a long time. The average Japanese could probably make a decent guess at this one and would be pretty much correct.

Iidabashi Station

Iidabashi Station

Let’s look at the kanji:

The first kanji, , is an important character. It has multiple readings. The most notable are meshi (meal, food), manma (food) and han (cooked rice). The second kanji, ta rice field, also has multiple readings, but ta is the most common. The third kanji, 橋 hashi bridge, is well known to readers of JapanThis because Edo was a city of waterways and bridges and there’s a place name with hashi in it every 100 meters, it seems.

The last two characters are pretty standard. But “WTF does Cooked Rice Rice Field Bridge mean?” I kept asking myself. I imagined there were a lot of restaurants in this area in the Edo Period. And a lot of rice fields. And, of course, a bridge. But it didn’t make any sense.

Well, understanding how to read the first kanji is the key to the puzzle. If it’s in a personal or family name, it can be read as ii. For the longest time, I wasn’t putting two and two together. The combination of 飯 and was actually a family name, Iida.

Having met countless people with the family named Iida, I feel like an idiot for not picking up on the obvious.


The outer moat of Edo Castle

The outer moat of Edo Castle

OK, so here’s the story.

As mentioned repeatedly throughout JapanThis, in 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu entered the city of Edo under the orders of the imperial regent, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Upon entering the city, he wanted to inspect the surrounding areas of his new domain. He recruited an elite local resident to show him around each of the areas he was inspecting. The person who served as his guide for the present day Iidabashi area was a certain samurai named 飯田喜兵衛 Iida Kihei. Ieyasu apparently to a liking to the little bugger and appointed him as village headman and then said that the area should be called 飯田町 Iidamachi Iida Town. For most of the Edo Period, town names were in a state of flux as “official names” don’t seem to have been a priority of the shōgunate[i]. But it seems like this name stuck for a while. Sometime before 1711, an official name was given to a big-ass hill in the area, 九段坂 Kudanzaka Kudan Hill (more about this name in the next blog). But the name of the town persisted until it was officially registered as a town under the new administrative structure of the Meiji Government in 1872.

In 1881, a bridge was built across the 外堀 sotobori outer moat of Tōkyō Castle[ii] to the north side of Iidamachi. The bridge was named 飯田橋 Iidabashi Iida Bridge.

A steam locomotive at Iidamachi Station circa 1900.

A steam locomotive at Iidamachi Station circa 1900.

In 1895, 飯田町駅 Iidamachi Eki Iidamachi Station was built. In the 1930’s, traffic to west Tōkyō was redirected to Shinjuku Station and eventually Iidamachi Station closed to commuter traffic. But prior to that, in 1928, there was another station built near the bridge and the major intersection there. Due to its proximity to the bridge, the station was called 飯田橋駅 Iidabashi Station. Iidamachi Station continued to be use, but more and more as a freight station. Since commuter traffic shifted to Iidabashi Station, the area came to be more and more referred to as Iidabashi instead of Iidamachi.

People coming and going at Iidamachi Station in the Meiji Period.

People coming and going at Iidamachi Station in the Meiji Period.

In 1966, when the Japanese postal address system was revamped, the area’s place name was officially changed to Iidabashi. Today there is no place called Iidamachi, but there is a marker for the site of the former Iidamachi Station.

Good for it.

Kobu Railroad Iidamachi Station Marker

Kobu Railroad Iidamachi Station Marker

[i] In an era when people changed their names regularly, this isn’t very surprising. But place names tended to stick longer.

[ii] After the city’s name was changed from Edo to Tōkyō, the castle’s name naturally changed too.

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