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Japanese History

What does Ginza mean?

Today Ginza is the center of fashion and luxury brands in Japan, but its origin is quite humble and its fame grew over the centuries.

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Japanese History

Yamanote Line: Yūraku-chō and Shinbashi

有楽町Yūraku-chō 新橋Shinbashi Yūraku-chō The area called Yūraku-chō lies in an area that used be a fortified island between the inner and outer moats of Edo Castle. In fact, the elevated train tracks supported by red brick foundations are built on the reclaimed outer moat of Edo Castle. The palaces of the daimyō most closely aligned […]

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Japanese History

Yamanote Line: Tōkyō

Almost at the end of our loop around Tōkyō so it’s about time we get to Tōkyō Station.

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Japanese History

What does Ōme mean?

Ōme was far from Edo but today it is one of the most beautiful areas of the Greater Tōkyō Metropolitan Area. It also has a connection to a legendary Kantō samurai hero.

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Japanese History

What does Uchisaiwaichō 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 “town inside Saiwai Gate.” The meaning was lost when the gate and bridge were torn […]

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Japanese History

What does Ogikubo mean?

At the very end of the Marunouchi Line in Suginami Ward lies an area called Ogikubo. The name, “grassy basin” seems straight forward enough, but might there be a Buddhist connection as well?

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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.

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Japanese History

What does Marunouchi mean?

It’s the last day of GW!

If you’re curious about what happened to real estate in the early Meiji years, I’ve got some pretty amazing pictures for you in this one. Today’s topic is Marunouchi and the so-called Daimyo Alley, the high-walled, moated, garden filled area of upper residences of the most elite daimyo. Today the area is filled with the skyscrapers of some of Japan’s wealthiest and most powerful companies.

Oh and just a heads up, this is good week for JapanThis. We’re finally at 100 members on Facebook. This week’s topics are Marunouchi, Shiodome, Shakujii, Nerima and a quick book review.

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Japanese History

Why is Kyōbashi called Kyōbashi?

Today’s place name is Kyobashi. It means “bridge to the capital.” Was that Edo or Kyoto? More importantly, this bridge is a testament to Japanese engineering. It’s final incarnation was completed one year before the Great Kanto Earthquake leveled Tokyo in 1923 but the bridge survived. It also survived WWII. But it didn’t survive modern progress in Tokyo…. Let’s learn more!