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Posts Tagged ‘minato’

What does Kōnan mean?

In Japanese History on January 13, 2016 at 7:08 pm

港南
Kōnan (Southport)

konan exit 1

So… this was an easy topic to investigate because it’s such a new place name. It dates from the 1960’s so it’s well recorded. If you want a long etymology, you won’t get one. But if you want an accurate one, I can definitely give you that.

Let’s Talk About Shinagawa Station First

If you go to 品川駅 Shingawa Eki Shinagawa Station today, you’ll encounter a massive train station that is totally unique in Tōkyō. It’s huge and has access to much of Tōkyō and Japan, but it only has 2 exits[i]. It’s one of the oldest train stations in Japan, having opened in 1872 (Meiji 5). It’s also the 9th busiest train station in the world and it hovers around the 6th busiest position for JR East, which leads me to believe it’s probably also the 6th busiest station in Tōkyō, too.

高輪口
Takanawa-guchi

Takanawa Exit

港南口
Kōnan-guchi

Kōnan Exit

The Takanawa Exit is the oldest exit/entrance which faced former 高輪村 Takanawa Mura Takanawa Village located near the old 東海道 Tōkaidō Tōkaidō Highway[ii] which connected Edo to Kyōto. It was pure countryside in the Edo Period and became a suburb from Meiji to WWII. The train tracks of the modern 山手線 Yamanote Sen Yamanote Line and 京浜東北線 Keihin-Tōhoku Sen Keihin-Tōhoku Line originally hugged the coast of Edo Bay.

Kōnan didn’t exist at all until much later because… well, it was the sea lol.

Wanna Read More?

Let’s Look at the Kanji


minato,

port, harbor


minami, nan/na

south

The name officially dates from 1965, when the modern postal code system was created[iii]. The area, which lies on landfill built up during the prelude to the 1964 Tōkyō Olympics and has remained under development ever since, was named after the fact that it is located in the southern portion of 港区 Minato-ku Minato Ward. As you see above, 港 minato means “port” or “harbor.” Therefore the ward’s name is literally “the harbor ward” and this area, in turn, was named “the south part of the harbor ward.”

I have heard a folk etymology that the name derives from 江南 Kōnan southern inlet/southern bay. This isn’t an unreasonable derivation. This could have been a local reference to the 目黒川 Meguro-gawa Meguro River flowing into Edo Bay. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone supporting this theory, so I think this is a false etymology.

The name didn’t just pop out of nowhere, though. The Tōkyō Metropolitan Government and Minato Ward had been working hand in hand in the development of this area. In fact, the official postal address was predated by 2 earlier entities that included the word Kōnan in their names and thus foreshadowed the official postal code.

konan middle school

Kōnan Junior High. The trees mark the area as yamanote (high city) by some definitions.

The first was 港南中学校 Kōnan Chūgakkō Kōnan Junior High School[iv] – built in 1963. The second was the 都営港南団地 Toei Kōnan Danchi Toei Kōnan Public Housing Project which spanned the late early 1960’s to the 1980’s (the beginning of the Bubble Economy)[v]. 都営toei means operated by the Tōkyō Metropolitan government. 団地 danchi is literally apartment building but is often translated as “public housing project.” To an American like me, “public housing project” sounds like “the projects.” That is, public housing for super low income families. The image is more or less “the ghetto.” But in 1950’s-1960’s Tōkyō, this referred to low rent suburban city-owned apartment buildings that encouraged urban sprawl as a way to combat the population explosion in the center of the old city.

danchi shinagawa.jpg

History of the Area

In the Edo Period (1600-1868[vi]), there was nothing here but water – literally. Beginning in the Meiji Period the land was built out into Tōkyō Bay a little bit to accommodate Shinagawa Station and manufacturing interests. The bulk of this growth took place in the Post War years. Space was needed for mundane things like train yards and storage areas for container cars when the station was still used for commercial traffic as well as passenger traffic. Most of the shipping activity was stopped in 1980. More landfill was built up further and further out into the bay until 1994 after the economic bubble burst. Unused station-related structures in the Kōnan area were slowly demolished and removed leaving vast tracts of unused land.

big konan

We’re lucky to have this picture. Behind the photographer was a wastleland of landfills and factories and distribution companies. This shot, if my interpretation is correct, is viewing Tokyo proper in the 1960’s.

When I first moved to Japan[vii], I worked in Kōnan. This was 2005. A co-worker who had been living and working in the area for about 6-8 years told me about the tremendous changes he had seen in the area. He mentioned a slaughter house in the area – still active at the time[viii] – was one of the outstanding characteristics of his neighborhood. He also told me that everything I saw in Kōnan was new. The entire area and the current iteration of Shinagawa Station itself were products of huge development projects that finished about 2 years before we began working together. Today, I can confirm that’s true.

intercity

InterCity

In 2003, 品川インターシティ Shinagawa Intāshitī Shinagawa InterCity and many of the luxury sky rise apartments and office spaces were completed. InterCity is a massive business, residential, hotel, and restaurant development begun in 1984 (in 2005, it was home to certain engineering departments of Sony)[ix]. The sprawling complex is built on the ruins of a demolished switchyard and shipping container area and gives direct access to Shinagawa Station.

800px-Shinagawa_station_tokyo_japan_1984_aerial-2

InterCity’s development was based on this space.

Kōnan Exit isn’t the only Claim to Fame

Most expats living in Tōkyō know Kōnan as the home to a particularly special kind of hell – the 入国管理局 Nyūkoku Kanrikyoku Immigration Bureau of Japan, located in 港南五丁目 Kōnan go-chōme 5th block of Kōnan. Other than extremely long wait times[x], I’ve never had much of a problem with Immigration as others. But from what I’ve heard, the experience varies depending on your nationality. It can be a nerve wracking experience for some. After all, your chance of getting a visa or being told to get the fuck out of the country hangs in the balance. Yeah, the long lines suck (this can be avoided by going early on a Monday morning and avoiding Friday like the plague – also it doesn’t hurt to have a good history book or some nice podcasts), but probably the single most annoying thing is… other foreigners. Hygiene varies from country to country so there are some stinky muthafuckerz up in there. Crying babies with mothers who scold them in irritating languages you never want to hear abound. Rambunctious kids get bored out of their minds so they just run around the place like shaved monkeys on crack. At least there’s a little comic relief from the Japanese immigration lawyers greasing the wheels on behalf of hostesses and prostitutes from Russia and the Philippines as they hand over essential yakuza paperwork for getting entertainer visas for their clients.

immigration7

Most people are so irritated that they don’t know they have a great view of Tokyo Bay. You should check it out!

A Restaurant History Nerds Might Dig

土風炉 Tofuro is a chain of 居酒屋 izakaya Japanese style restaurant/pubs. They serve typical izakaya fare – sushi, sashimi, soba, tofu, edamame, grilled fish, and so on. Izakaya are great places to relax and eat and drink socially for extended periods of time.

tofuro mwh

Although my preference is for small, privately owned izakaya, this particular branch of Tofuro is pretty unique. It has a spacious décor designed to look like one of Edo’s 下町 shitamachi commoner towns[xi], complete with bridges, rivers, and warehouses. The lighting and background audio runs a cycle from dawn to morning to afternoon to dusk to evening to night. At dawn, roosters crow. In the afternoon, you can hear the sounds of a lively merchant city. As soon as the “sun” sets, a mock 花火大会 hanabi taikai fireworks display takes place in the sky (ie; ceiling). At midnight, the frogs and crickets are occasionally interrupted by periodic calls to put out any fires while you sleep. For a place you just go to eat and drink, it’s pretty full on.

tofuro

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[i] OK, this isn’t completely true. Shinagawa Station is actually a combination of 2 stations – a massive JR East station which includes 新幹線 shinkansen access and a shitty ass 京急 Keikyū station. The JR station has 2 exits. The janky ass Keikyū station has one exit – at least as far as I know.
[ii] Literally, the “eastern sea route.”
[iii] In Japanese, the current postal address system is called 住居表示 jūkyo hyōji displayed addresses. I usually refer to this as the postal code/post code – there is no standard translation of the term that I know of.
[iv] Or, Kōnan Middle School. Where I grew up we had junior highs, other places had middle schools. Same difference – lots of awkward kids with pimples.
[v] A quick note, I couldn’t find exact dates for the beginning and the end of the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government’s involvement in this particular development project, but these rough dates should be good enough in a general sense. There are still government owned apartments in the area, so in a sense, the city has never abandoned the project – it’s only development that has stopped. The area is located on the 山手線 Yamanote Sen Yamanote Line and 品川駅 Shinagawa Eki Shinagawa Station is a major hub station, so private developers have had a field day in the area since the 1990’s.
[vi] Roughly.
[vii] Not visited, mind you – moved.
[viii] I don’t know about now. But I bet it’s still there.
[ix] I’m not sure if they’re still there because about this same time, Sony began building a new headquarters building in Kōnan (it was formerly in nearby 大崎 Ōsaki), so I’m guessing they consolidated a few things in their own building at that time. But… I’m not sure.
[x] I sat there for 3½ hours once.
[xi] I usually translate this as “low city,” but gonna keep things interesting because of my last article about Yamanote vs Shitamachi.

Why is Roppongi called Roppongi

In Japanese History, Travel in Japan on February 12, 2014 at 1:42 am

六本木
Roppongi (the 6 trees)

Mori Tower and the spider sculpture at Roppongi Hills

Mori Tower and the spider sculpture at Roppongi Hills

Just a quick heads up, this was written in Open Office, which is one of the shittiest pieces of software ever. It’s free, so I don’t expect much, but every time I use this program, the text formatting is all funky. So please forgive all the weird font changes and font size changes. It wasn’t written that way.
Word Press and Open Office don’t play well together.

ropponig croossing

I actually wrote about this topic once beforei.

On February 10th of last year, I was still trying to figure out how to breathe life back into a stagnant blog. I was determined to commit to it and was keeping up with my idea of “if I don’t have a big topic to write about, I’ll cover one Tōkyō place name a week.” In the beginning there was minimal research put in because I just covered a few topics that I was familiar with. Now one year later, JapanThis has transformed into something beautiful – something I’m fiercely proud of.

So Roppongi wasn’t the first place name I covered, but it was one of the really early ones. The reason I chose it was because it was relatively easy. Looking back at this 2 paragraph monstrosity, I feel a deep and dark shame. It’s nowhere near the level of quality I demand of myself now. It’s embarrassing and makes me want to vomit out of my ass and/or commit seppuku.

But today I’m going to set the record straight.

Today, Roppongi is a party town. For years it’s been popular with foreigners due to its proximity to so many foreign embassies. Because of this proximity, the area is relatively English-friendly which makes it a destination for foreigners visiting Japan and the seedy businesses that often cater to (or try to take advantage of) foreigners.

Roppongi has a bad reputation among Tōkyōites and among foreigners who try learn the so-called “Japanese Way.” I’m not really into Roppongi. But I’ve learned to not hate on it so much over the years and as it turns out, the area has a very interesting history if you leave the so-called Roppongi Crossing area, which is pretty much one of the most irritating places in the world.

Alright, so let’s get into this…

b0061717_0321615

So, Roppongi. What does it mean?


If we look at the kanji:

六本
roppon

6 tall, cylindrical things


ki

trees
(generally, tall and cylindrical)

There are a few opinions about this etymology. As any seasoned reader of JapanThis knows, the kanji can’t always be trusted to accurately reflect ancient place names. I mentioned as an aside in my article on Why was Edo called Edo? That this area, now called Minato-ku had been inhabited by humans for a very long time. From the get go, I want to say that there is a chance that this is name that may or may not be Japanese. It may or may not have anything to do with the kanji we have have today. To be blunt, there is no way of knowing.

The one thing we do know for sure is that the first recorded reference to “Roppongi” came in 1828 (late Edo Period) in a correspondence with the shōgunate. However, we don’t know exactly what area was being referred to. In fact, Roppongi didn’t appear on a map until 1878 with the creation of 麻布区 Azabu-ku Azabu Wardii.

the top 2 photos are of Edo Period Azabu Juban (the area that is now considered the "shoten-gai." The botom two pitctures are of Roppongi Crossing.

the top 2 photos are of Edo Period Azabu Juban (the area that is now considered the “shoten-gai.” The bottom two pictures are of Roppongi Crossing.

 

THEORY 1
Literal: There were 6 tall trees used as landmarks

Roppongi is one of the highest plateaux in Tōkyō. This theory says that waaaaaaaay back – most likely some time between the Kamakura Period and Sengoku Period – there was a place here called 六方庵 Roppō-an Hermitage of the 6 Directions. In the garden of this residence, there were 6 tall trees.

The kanji iori/an is puzzling. It usually refers to a rustic home or tea house. However, in the Heian Period it could refer to a military encampment, headquarters, barracks, or even a fortress. More about this later.

Anyhoo, because of it’s elevation and high visibility, the 6 tall trees were landmarks. People disagree about whether these were matsu pine trees or keyaki zelkova trees. This theory refers to a time so long ago that we can’t know whether it’s true or not. The presence of keyaki trees is intriguing, though, because today there is a street called 欅坂 Keyakizaka between Azabu and Roppongi.

If you dropped the word iori/an hermitage, and added the kanji ki trees, in the local dialect it became Roppon-gi. A variation of this etymology is that it comes from 六方の木 Roppō no ki which got reduced to Roppo’ n’ gi. More about this later.

Obviously, we don’t know if this place actually existed, but linguistically speaking, it’s plausible. These kind of sound changes are observable in Modern Japanese. Anyone with exposure to day-to-day Japanese of our era will certainly have seen and heard this kind of vernaculariii.

6 trees

THEORY 2
Literal: It’s derived from a family name

This is actually two theories, but they’re based on the premise that that there was a noble family called 六方 Roppō that lived here before the Edo Periodiv.
1) In the local dialect,
六方家 Roppō-ke the Roppō Family was pronounced Roppo-ngi.
2) The area was considered
六方気 Roppō-ki Roppō-ish or Roppō style, which in the local dialect was pronounced Roppo-ngi.

The interesting thing about this theory is that it also refers to Roppō and reinforces the Roppō-an theoryv. Whether it was a rustic hermitage or noble’s fortress, the high ground would be very suitable.

Linguistically, the sound changes are absolutely plausible.

There just isn’t any other evidence besides these etymology stories. No deeds of the Edo Roppō family. No tales of legendary tea ceremonies at Roppō Hermitage. No references to this place at all. And to top it all off, Roppō isn’t a family name today (as far as I can tell)vi.

when i hear the word "庵,”  I imagine this kind of building.

when i hear the word “庵,” I imagine this kind of building.



THEORY 3
Figurative: A legendary 6 man sep
puku party went down here

During the 源平合戦 Genpei Gassen Genpei Warvii, the Genji forces pursued 6 Taira samurai and fought until 5 died here. A single Taira samurai managed to escape and rather than being cut down, slit his own belly to resist capture or execution. He died under a solitary pine tree. They group was remembered by the local people as “the 6 pines trees.” A variation of this story says that they all committed seppuku.

This isn’t a very likely etymology because, of course, there are no suriving shrines, graves, or much of anything to back up this theory. What’s more, there is another twist on this story that says these samurai were actually deserters, and traditionally Japanese people don’t take kindly to stories of deserters.

Either way you look at it, deserters or heros, this is a cool story because any story that ends in seppuku is – by definition – cool. But there’s not a single piece of evidence to back up.

There is such a thing as "seppuku fetish." And yes, is sexualized.

There is such a thing as “seppuku fetish.”And yes, it goes something like this… 

Theory 4
Creative: It’s a reference to 6 daimyō who lived here during the Edo Period

In English, this theory is usually stated as: “In the Edo Period, there were 6 major daimyō residences located here and so the area was named Roppongi.” But this is a great over-simplification, as you will soon see. There were MANY daimyō living in this area. Many city blocks of present Minato Ward still conform to the shape of the vast estates that once stood here. The crux of this theory is not that there were just 6 daimyō here, but that there were 6 daimyō who had family names that referenced trees in their family namesviii.

Let’s take a look at the daimyō who are generally cited:

 

上杉
Uesugi
米沢藩
Yonezawa Han

above the cedar trees The Minsitry of Foreign Affairs and Azabu Post Office sit on the former upper and middle residences of Yonezawa Domain.

朽木
Kutsuki
朽木藩
Kustuki Han

decaying trees I can’t find the location of their Edo residences (one source says the upper residence was in Akasaka), but the family used Sengaku-ji as their funerary temple.

青木
Aoki
新見藩
Niimi Han

green trees I can’t find their Edo residences, but the funerary temple of the Aoki clan of Niimi Domain is located at Zuishō-ji in Shirokane-dai.

片桐
Katagiri
竜田藩
Tatsuta Han

off-kilter pauwlonia tree Allegedly, this family’s lower residence was located on Toriizaka. This is hard for me to confirm because, well, I’ll get into it later.

高木
Takagi
丹南藩

Tan’nan Han

tall tree(s) The middle residence for a Tan’nan Domain was located in Azabu Kōgaibashi.

一柳
Hitotsuyanagi
(Ichiyanagi)
小野藩
Ono Han
小松藩

Komatsu Han

a single weeping willow The family funerary temple was Zōjō-ji! If I’m not mistaken, their cemetary is now located across from Tōkyō tower where Kondō Isami’s father is buried. The upper residence was once located in west Shinbashi. (There were two daimyō families located in this area with same name; I don’t know anything else about them).

This is the most popular theory by a long shot. Even Wikipedia likes it.

But it has a few problems. No Edo Period maps listed anything as Roppongi. This isn’t unusual, as time and time again we say common nicknames get applied to areas in the administrative re-shuffling that happened in the Meiji Era. But it also means, we don’t really know where the area originally referred to was nor do we know its size. Besides, if I had a penny for every Japanese family name with a reference to a tree in it, I’d be able to buy your mom – several times over.

But looking at the table above, you can see these daimyō mansions were in Shinbashi, Akasaka, Azabu, and Shirokane. This is all in present day Minato Ward – which doesn’t mean anything when trying to pinpoint a specific place. But it does mean something when you are walking somewhere, as people did before cars and trains. There is a certain centrality about the location of these daimyō.

But today Roppongi is a specific area and postal address. None of these daimyō had mansions in the area we would consider Roppongi today. In all fairness, the Takagi and Katagiri were literally right on the border, though. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the exact locations of some residences isn’t completely known – and in some cases, the daimyō family moved (or were re-shuffled).

That said, the location of funerary temples of some of the lesser daimyō in the vicinity does lend a bit of credence to the story. The other interesting thing is that some of the “mystery residences” are those of the Aoki, the Kutsuki, the Takagi, and the Katagiri. The first three just barely met the minimum kokudaka for daimyō status. If their domains’ value slipped below 10,000 koku, they could have had their domains confiscated. In 1650, Katagiri Tametsugu was demoted to hatamoto status for 無嗣断絶 mushi danzetsu the crime of dying without an appointed heirix. Tatsuta Domain was confiscated, subsequently abolished, and the family was reshuffled. Dying without an heir was considered an act of such abject stupidity by the shōgunate, that it always required immediate action. I would tend to agree. In a “feudal” society, if you don’t have a designated successor, you probably shouldn’t be governing anything. But then again, the boy was only 15.

Anyhoo, this seems to be the strongest theory simply because it’s the only with any evidence. It’s not air tight by any stretch of the imagination; much of its appeal coming from the fact that most people don’t know (or care) exactly where daimyō Edo residences were. True or not, in my opinion, this is the most interesting theory.

The residence at the top is the Uesugi mansion. This picture is great because it gives you an idea of how massive these estates were. They really were the Edo Period equivalents of embassies.

The residence at the top is the Uesugi mansion.
This picture is great because it gives you an idea of how massive these estates were.
They really were the Edo Period equivalents of embassies.
And yes, this is their upper residence. and as such it’s located at Edo Castle.

THEORY 5
Figurative: 6 hitching poles…


There’s another theory about 6 poles (by extension, places) where you could tie up your horse. This is mostly a reference to (by Edo Period standards) nearby
Nihonbashi and not this area. Perhaps the idea being, samurai traveling long distances, could swap out a horse there, and then proceed to their 藩邸 hantei domain residence (essentially an embassay) on a horse that didn’t look worn out.

So, yup! Someone thought hitching poles near Nihonbashi would make a great place name over in Roppongi. The one thing I can say in defense of this theory is that, as I said before, until the name Roppongi was made official in the early Meiji Era under a western administrative system we have no idea where the name Roppongi referred to.

In conclusion, we have no idea where the name comes from. If you love historical linguistics or dialects, you might favor theories 1 & 2. If you’re a big fan of the Edo-Tōkyō, you probably like theory 4. Admittedly, they are appealing. The others have some charm, but ostensibly lack credibility.

But if you know them all, you can really see the hidden beauty of Edo-Tōkyō. Hopefully you can see why I’m so passionate about this city’s history. This is something I would never have said about Roppongi a few years ago. Foreigners who become “lifers” in Tōkyō generally shun Roppongi because Roppongi is for the newbies. Roppongi is for the idiots, Roppongi is for rich foreigners who can’t speak Japanese, Roppongi is where every sort of shadiness goes down. But for those of us who love Japanese History, especially Edo-Tōkyō, there is sooooooooooo much good shit in the surrounding area. Unfortunately for us, most of the best parts of Tōkyō are hidden. You really have to know where to look.

Check out Tokyo Bay in the distance!

Check out Tokyo Bay in the distance!

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i OMG, OMG, OMG, don’t get me started on how bad this blog started out.
ii Pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Azabu Ward no longer exists.
iii Some well known examples are 本当 hontō true reduced to honto and no is regularly reduced to /n/. And /g/ is often pronounced with a /n/ sound before it; すごい sugoiすんごい sungoi.
iv Allegedly.
v I haven’t come across this etymology, but one wonders if a mix of the Roppōan and Roppō family is possible. If there were 6 trees located on the property of the Roppō family, you could get a pun based on 六方の木 Roppō no ki (Roppo’ n’ gi) the Roppō’s trees and 六本木 Roppongi 6 trees. Call me crazy, but that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
vi A Google search just pulls up restaurants and geometry references (roppō literally means hexagon).
vii What exactly was the Genpei War? In short, it was a war between the Minamoto and Taira. More details here!
viii If you’re wondering what the hell a daimyō is and why there residences are CRUCIAL to understanding the history of Tōkyō, please read my short summary of sankin-kōtai here.
ix The family continued and committed mushi danzetsu a couple more times. After been so heavily punished by the shōgunate, you’d think the family would have set up some policy. I guess they weren’t the brightest bunch.

What does Keyakizaka mean?

In Japanese History on February 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm

欅坂
Keyakizaka (Zelkova Hill)

1024-768

Today’s place name etymology is another easy one. The first kanji is 欅 keyaki and means zelkova tree. The second kanji is 坂 saka hill. The kanji for keyaki is pretty rare in Modern Japanese, so this name is almost always written as ケヤキ坂 keyakizaka so people can actually read it. The Roppongi area has a long standing connection with zelkova trees. In fact, some people cite 6 giant zelkova trees as the etymology of the place name Roppongi[i].

But basically, the Azabu and Roppongi areas were a short walk from 江戸湾 Edo Wan Edo Bay but and the terrain was marked by lush wooded high ground (which became yamanote) and not-too-wet lowlands (which became shitamachi). The lush high ground was perfect for daimyō residences and lowlands were suitable for the merchant towns that catered to the elite domain “embassies.” Interestingly, the area is home to a number of embassies – many occupying former daimyō properties.

Anyhoo, I’m getting side tracked. I can’t say whether this name has survived from the Edo Period or not, but this 400 meter or uphill promenade is definitely befitting of the area’s Edo Period elite history. The street is wide and lined with trees and flower beds. The flowers are changed seasonally. The zelkova trees are richly illuminated – much more so now than the first time I visited in 2003. The street runs through a part of the Roppongi Hills “urban center” connecting the formerly shitamachi Azabu-Jūban shopping street with the 5-star Grand Hyatt Tokyo at the top of the hill. If you view off the road into the Roppongi Hills complex you will come upon the so-called Mohri Garden.

A quick word about this garden’s name. Roppongi Hills was developed by a dude named Mori Minoru. This garden is named after the Mori Clan who ruled 長州藩 Chōshū han Chōshū Domain. The developer’s name is 森 Mori and the daimyō’s name is 毛利 Mōri (spelled Mohri in the official Roppongi Hills jargon). So don’t confuse the two. But all I wanted to point out is that the developers claim that the garden is a partial holdover from the original daimyō garden. Take that with a grain of salt. It’s definitely a nice garden, if not a busy garden, and it’s definitely in the Japanese style. But I’m not willing to vouch to say any of it is actually a remnant of the Edo Period.

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[i] 六本木 Roppongi literally, “6 Trees.” Another version of the story says they were pine trees and not zelkovas. I don’t buy into that theory at all because there is a much more compelling derivation.
BTW – I just looked up my original article on Roppongi and was shocked at how short and uninformative it was. So I’m adding Roppongi to my “do over” list and will give a detailed explanation about the ‘Pong. 

What does Shirokane mean?

In Japanese Castles, Japanese History on September 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

白金
Shirokane (Silver Coins)

Something unique in the big city!

Something unique in the big city!

Shirokane appears in a few place names

Shirokane

Shirokanedai

Shirokane-Takanawa

Shiba-Shirokane (now defunct)


So the story goes that in the 14th century, a powerful clan migrated here and took the area under their direct control and began the development and cultivation of the area. According to the legend, the family was called 柳下氏  Yanagishita  or Yagishita or Yanashita the Yanagishita clan[i]. The story goes so far as to allege the head of the clan was a certain 柳下上総之介 Yanagishita Kazusanosuke[ii] who was so rich that he was called the 白金長者 shirokane chōja the silver coin millionaire[iii]. Bear in mind that there is very little corroborating evidence to support this story.

The name Shirokane first appeared in 1559, when the so-called Late Hōjō clan granted a place called 白金村  Shirokane Mura Shirokane Village to the great grandson of Ōta Dōkan. But the story I just told you doesn’t appear until the late Edo Period.

If you don't know what you're looking for, this is what passes for castle ruins of this era.

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, this is what passes for castle ruins of this era.

According to the experts, of which I ain’t one, judging from the topography there clearly was a pre-Azuchi-Momoyama fortress in the area[iv], which at least indicates that some powerful lord lived in the area before the coming of the Tokugawa. The ruins, which are just embankments and plateaux today, can be seen in Shirokanedai at the 国立自然教育園 Shizen Kyōikuen National Park for the Study of Nature. You can see their busted ass English website here. I haven’t been to this place myself, but it seems that the hills and ridgeways are the remains of the original earthen fortifications. This Japanese website goes into some detail on the topic.

Again, I’m not an expert on castles, but in the Kamakura Period, this area fell under the domain of the clans such as the Edo and the Shibuya. One of these clans may or may not have had fortresses in the area – and it’s possible that they could have – and the timing is right. Apart from the anecdotal story from the late Edo Period, the Yanagishita clan is otherwise unknown in the area.

so this is the kind of fortification we're talking about...

so this is the kind of fortification we’re talking about…

Complicating the issue, later, after the coming of the Tokugawa and the establishment of 参勤交代  sankin-kōtai the alternate attendance system, this area became home to many palatial residences of 大名 daimyō lords. In 1627, the 讃岐高松藩松平家 Sanuki no Kuni Takamatsu-han no Matsudaira-ke the Matsudaira Family of theTakamatsu Domain in Sanuki Province, a branch family of the Tokugawa, established a 下屋敷 shimo-yashiki lower residence here. As mentioned in my article on sankin-kōtai, of a lord’s 3 usual residences, the lower residence was usually the grandest and would have included beautiful gardens and ponds.

Matsudaira Yoritoshi, last lord of the Takamatsu Matsudaira Family. (ie; the dude who had to surrendur his bad ass mansion in Edo to the Meiji Government)

Matsudaira Yoritoshi, last lord of the Takamatsu Matsudaira Family.
(ie; the dude who had to surrendur his bad ass mansion in Edo to the Meiji Government)

In the Meiji Era[v], the imperial government set about its wholesale erasing samurai history and appropriated the sprawling palace of the Matsudaira and repurposed the land as an arsenal for the Imperial Navy. In 1893, the arsenal was transferred to the Imperial Army. In 1917, the wooded area was granted to the Imperial Forestry Bureau. In 1949, the area was finally open to the public as 国立自然教育園 Kokuritsu Shizen Kyōikuen the National Park for the Study of Nature.

OK, so this is the traditional narrative and, as mentioned, etymologically speaking it’s open to a lot of criticism. That said, the presence of fortifications there are very real.

However, another intriguing theory exists. This theory proposes that the name actually derives from a Classical Japanese phrase 城ヶ根 shiro ka ne/shiro ga ne/jō ga ne which would mean something along the lines of “the castle’s embankments” or “castle foundations.”  According to this etymology, the presence of a former lord’s castle ruins from time immemorial came to be written in more auspicious kanji, ie; 白金 shirogane/shirokane “silver” or “silver coins.” In the Edo Period, a folk etymology came to be circulated which created this Shirokane Chōja Silver Coin Millionaire character and story.

This new theory simply re-spins the traditional narrative but it doesn’t seem so cheesy. It also falls into a pattern that we’ve seen with Kantō place names that pre-date the Edo Period.  It doesn’t have widespread acceptance, but there are other place names around Japan that use the word 根 ne (literally root/source, specialized geographic meaning “ridge, embankment” in relation to a fortification). Actually, we’ve already seen a  根 ne conjecture in the etymology of Nerima.

Which is correct? I don’t know and we’ll probably never know. But that’s the thing with history, isn’t it? As much as we want a clear picture of what really happened, we’re always reaching.

Another kind of interesting thing about this place name is that it does mean “silver” or “silver coins” and to this day the area is located in the richest ward of Tokyo.

Oh, one last loose end to wrap up! So at the beginning of the article, I mentioned some other place names. The etymology of 芝 Shiba can be found here. The etymology of 高輪 Takanawa can be found here. 台 dai, on the other hand, needs a little explainin’.

The kanji is a reference to a 台地 daichi plateau. As mentioned earlier, the area was clearly fortified no less than 500 years ago. The area was probably a naturally high area, but it was intentionally built up too. Anyways, while one common meaning of the kanji in a place name is “high ground,” it’s not always a reference to elevation in the modern geological sense (think sea level); it was a much more relative term. But in this case, it is most certainly a reference to the foundations of the old fortifications.


[i] The name itself is interesting, it means “under the willows,” but it has 3 possible readings. I’m not sure which the correct reading for this particular clan is as I’ve seen both Yanagishita and Yagishita in reference to this clan. Yanagishita seems to roll off the tongue a little easier, so I’m going with that one.

[ii] The traditional story also asserts that homeboy was a minor official in the service of the 南朝 Nanchō, the Southern Court. Readers unfamiliar with the establishment of the Muromachi shōgunate should know that in the 14th century, there was a succession dispute in the Imperial Family which led to the establishment of a second Imperial Court. Long story short, the Northern Court won and the current imperial line claims descent from this branch and considers the Southern Court a bunch of poseurs. Read more about the Northern and Southern Courts here.

[iii] Silver coins or silver itself, usually 銀 gin in modern Japanese, were apparently called 白金 shirokane at the time. Technically speaking, both methods of writing can be read as either gin or shirokane. There is an additional reading hakkin which means platinum.

[iv] If you remember from my article on What does Edo mean?, when you think “Japanese Castle,” you are most likely thinking of structures that were first developed around the time of Oda Nobunaga and reached their peak of development in the Edo Period. But the word 城 shiro is applied to both structures.

[v] In 1871 no less. This is so soon after the 1868 Meiji Restoration, that it seems like a deliberate dig at the Tokugawa to me.

What does Mamiana-cho mean?

In Japanese History on September 3, 2013 at 2:44 am

狸穴
Mamiana-chō
Raccoon-Hole Town

The place name Mamiana has always been connected to Mamiana Hill.   BTW - Tokyo generally has no street names so hills and landmarks serve as guideposts. In Minato Ward all the famous hills are marked with these wooden posts with an explanation of the importance or etymology of the name of the hill.

The place name Mamiana has always been connected to Mamiana Hill.
BTW – Tokyo generally has no street names so hills and landmarks serve as guideposts. In Minato Ward all the famous hills are marked with these wooden posts with an explanation of the importance or etymology of the name of the hill.

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Sorry for my recent silence. I fell down the wormhole that is Game of Thrones and spent all my free time plowing through seasons 1, 2 , and 3[i]. To my delight I learned that season 4 is still in production, so I can finally get back writing Japan This!.

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Today’s Tōkyō place name is a doozy.

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Straddled between Azabu-Jūban, Higashi-Azabu, and Azabu-dai, is a small park called 狸穴町公園 which is freaking impossible to read unless you already know the place or you’re some kind of next level kanji master. Luckily, if you go to the area, many of the buildings don’t use the kanji (they use katakana or rōmaji) so if you stumble across this tiny area of Azabu, you’ll know how to read it. This residential area is home to about 250-260 people and is near the Russian Embassy and a non-descript S&M themed love hotel (apparently frequented regularly by Russians).

Actually, the park looks like crap. Not sure why no one cleans that pool out...

Actually, the park looks like crap. Not sure why no one cleans that pool out…

Actually the area was virtually transparent except to rich expats and diplomats 10-15 years ago. It became more accessible when Azabu-Jūban Station was built and became the convergence of the 南北線 Nanboku-sen North-South Line and 大江戸線 Ō-Edo-sen Greater Edo Area Line. It’s still a sleepy corner of the greater Azabu area, but it’s undergone massive development in the last ten years.

One of the most boring looking embassies in Tokyo. (The American Embassy isn't much better, to be honest).   If I'm not mistaken, this building is a Soviet era structure.

One of the most boring looking embassies in Tokyo. (The American Embassy isn’t much better, to be honest).
If I’m not mistaken, this building is a Soviet era structure.

The reading of 狸穴町 is Mamiana-chō. The first kanji, , is usually read as tanuki. The second is 穴 ana hole. The final character, 町 chō, has come up often in this blog and it means town.

The kanji 狸 tanuki is where the fun lies. Anyone who has ever walked down a Japanese street is familiar with tanuki. They often stand outside of 居酒屋 izakaya Japanese style pubs.

The stereotypical composite TANUKI. This creature is more a product of folklore and a mix of Chinese and Japanese mythology and pre-scientific understanding of the animal kingdoms.  A frequent character in Japanese folklore, tanuki are considered absent minded masters of disguise.

The stereotypical composite TANUKI. This creature is more a product of folklore and a mix of Chinese and Japanese mythology and pre-scientific understanding of the animal kingdoms.
A frequent character in Japanese folklore, tanuki are considered absent minded masters of disguise.

The scientific name for tanuki is Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus (although this taxonomy is apparently in dispute by zoologists and evolutionary biologists). The common name is Japanese Raccoon Dog and if you look at a picture of one, you’ll see why it has the combined name raccoon and dog.

You can see why they are called raccoon dogs in English. Although the name is based on their superficial aspect, the jury is out on their evolutionary biological roots.

You can see why they are called raccoon dogs in English. Although the name is based on their superficial aspect, the jury is out on their evolutionary biological roots.

As far as I know, tanuki are neither raccoons nor dogs[ii]. They merely resemble the two. In Japanese dialects, different words are used for this animal. But in 標準語 Hyōjungo Standard Japanese, it’s called tanuki, so we’ll stick to that one. The kanji was used for a range of small furry mammals with a range of readings in various dialects referring to everything from tanuki to badgers to feral cats to large flying squirrels to wild boars, etc. Kanji use aside, the word まみ mami (which was sometimes assigned to the kanji ) appears to have been an Edo Dialect word that applied specifically to female tanuki, Japanese badgers[iii], and wild boar[iv]. An alternate kanji, 猯 mami was generally used for this grouping of animals. This word was eventually replaced by the word of the elite class, tanuki, which became the standard word we use today. So this reading is a vestige of the old Edo Dialect. Also it’s clear that in pre-modern Japan[v], there was a lot of flexibility in the naming and grouping of animals – or at least a different way of thinking that was at odds with the Linnæan system of taxonomy.

A "mami" is most likely a composite creature (and partly mythological).   Before the 1860's there was no scientific method in Japan. Animals weren't classified according to evolutionary biolog. But that doesn't mean the Japanese didn't observe or study animals. They most definitely did. Some of there categories were rather broad by today's standards. Hence the confusion in what mami, tanuki and other animals were called.

A “mami” is most likely a composite creature (and partly mythological). But here you can clearly see a “mami” living in a cave or hole as pre-modern Japanese people thought of it..Before the 1860’s there was no scientific method in Japan. Animals weren’t classified according to evolutionary biology. But that doesn’t mean the Japanese didn’t observe or study animals. They most definitely did. Some of their categories were rather broad by today’s standards. Hence the confusion in what mami, tanuki and other animals were called. 

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OK, we’ve heard a little kanji talk, a little linguistics, dialectology, and biology. Now let’s talk etymology!

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The Prevailing Theory

The prevailing theory is that at the bottom of the hill presently called 狸穴坂 Mamiana-zaka Mamiana Hill, a group of 猯 mami (could have been anything from wild boar to badgers or tanuki) were thought to have lived and burrowed in holes for shelter. People gave the area the name 狸穴 mami ana mami hole.

The fluidity of animal naming/grouping (or dialect influences[vi]) led to the current spelling with the tanuki kanji instead of the mami kanji.

The Tokugawa Iemitsu Did It Theory

As I cover more and more Tōkyō place names, the Tokugawa Iemitsu Did It Theory plays a huge and ever-growing role in the etymology[vii]. This theory states that a really big cavern or hole was in the area and the 3rd shōgun, Iemitsu, ordered that the hole be explored.  Some brave samurai went in the hole, looked around and determined that まみ mami (local Edo word) female tanuki were living there. They named the place and the rest is history.

The Mine Shaft Theory

It’s important to keep in mind that because of the variation in kanji (ie; and ) and the importance of somewhat non-descript animal characters in Japanese folklore, the holes may have originally been attributed to mythological or composite creatures that may not have ever existed there.

The final theory, which isn’t particularly unbelievable, states that the area at the bottom of the hill was an ancient quarry or mine. Later generations saw the remains of the facility and produced some local folklore stating the tanuki had dug the holes – or that actual tanuki or some other animals[viii] did actually live in those ruins.

As for the historicity of any of the claims, nothing can be said except that at the beginning of the Edo Period the place name was first recorded as 飯倉狸穴町 Īgura Mamiana-chō, named after a prosperous merchant family named Īgura who lived on 狸穴坂 Mamiana-zaka Mamiana Hill. Actually, if you walk up the hill towards Roppongi from Mamiana Park, you’ll come to an area that preserves the Īgura family name. That area is called 飯倉片町 Īgura Katamachi[ix].

Iigura Katamachi

Iigura Katamachi

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[i] All I have to say is those characters are straight up gangsta. Can’t wait for season 4!

[ii] Though they are currently grouped in the family Canidæ, they are not in the genus Canis which are actual dogs. Raccoons in the US are currently classified in the family Procyonidæ.

[iii] Meles anakuma is 穴熊 anaguma “hole bear” – Japanese Badger.

[iv] Sus scrofa leucomystax is 猪 inoshishi wild boar.

[v] ie; pre-scientific Japan.

[vi] Or both!

[vii] Many of which, but not all, should be taken with a grain of salt.

[viii] Badgers, wild boars, tanuki, your mom…

[ix] The Īgura family name is also suspect in that it could just refer to the presence of food warehouses in the area. It is a family name, but it literally means rice/food warehouse. In cases like this, without further evidence it’s a game of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

10 Random Quickies – Japan This Lite

In Japan This Lite, Japanese History on August 20, 2013 at 12:57 am

大門  Daimon
国立競技場 Kokuritsu-Kyōgijō
新銀座 Shin-Ginza
東中野 Higashi-Nakano
江戸川 Edogawa
流山 Nagareyama
品川宿 Shinagawa-shuku
港区 Minato-ku
If there’s a 上野 is there a 下野? (Ueno, Shitano)
おめぇの母ちゃん Your mom

The Edo Castle room in which the 3rd Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu was born.  (supposedly)

The Edo Castle room in which the 3rd Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu was born.
(supposedly)

Alright, my super short O-bon vacation is over and it’s back to the grind (actually working a little more to make up for time lost). I’m gonna try to do my best to squeeze out another article in a timely manner.

Anyways, I spent one day in a 38°C (100.4°F) solar beat down in Kawagoe, the former administrative center of 川越藩 Kawagoe Han Kawagoe Domain[i]. Kawagoe was an important logistical hub for 武蔵国 Musashi no Kuni and Edo. Since it was part of Musashi no Kuni, I thought I’d mention it. You can also find the only extant buildings of the former Edo Castle that can still be entered by common folk like you and I. Kawagoe is now part of Saitama Prefecture. These days, Saitama is to Tōkyō what New Jersey is to New York[ii].  Let’s just say, the prefecture will never live down Tamori’s nickname for the area, ダ埼玉 dasaitama (a mix of ダサい dasai “lame” + 埼玉 Saitama)[iii].  So let’s move on to more pleasant conversation[iv].

So I’ve got a few e-mail messages that ask about Tōkyō place names which are pretty easy to explain – and don’t really warrant their own posts.  Some referred to previous articles but weren’t directly addressed. So today’s Japan This Lite is brought to you by the support of generous question-asking readers like yourself!

Oh, and speaking of generous readers, if anyone is interested in donating, I’ve set up a donation page on Patreon. Feel free to throw a brother a couple of bucks[v].

OK, so without any further ado, here are 10 Quick Questions from readers about Tōkyō place names that I explain away in a few minutes[vi].



What Does Daimon Mean?

Oh, look! It's a big gate! I wonder what that thing is doing here?

Oh, look! It’s a big gate! I wonder what that thing is doing here?

大門 Daimon means “Big Gate.” The gate is specifically the gate that crosses the street at an intersection between the Daimon Station, the Minato Ward Office and Zōjō-ji[vii]. There is a bigger gate in front of Zōjō-ji, but that’s not the “big gate” referred to in the name. Before Zōjō-ji was built until today, the area has been known as 芝 Shiba (see my article here). The area in front of the gate was a 門前町 monzen-chō a town built in front of a temple gate (see my article here). Because there is an intersection right in front of the gate, the area became an obvious destination for trolleys, buses, and eventually subways.  The subway name here is 大門 Daimon, but the actually postal address is 芝大門 Shiba Daimon. The name reflects the area’s heritage as part of Shiba, as monzen-chō, and of course, as the place where the big gate still stands today.

What Does Kokuritsu-Kyōgijō Mean?

The National Olympic Stadium

The National Olympic Stadium

国立競技場 is made of two words. After you hear the translation, you will understand. Kokuritsu means “National.” Kyōgijō means stadium or athletic grounds. When the word 駅 eki station is dropped this compound word is usually translated as National Olympic Stadium. When you hear this word in Japan, most people will undoubtedly think of the 1964 Tōkyō Olympic Games.  The facility pre-dates the ’64 Summer Olympics and if Tōkyō manages to land the 2020 Summer Olympics, the site will supposedly be re-developed for the that purpose in the form of a ghastly silver drop of water… or something.

What Does Shin-Ginza Mean?


WTF?

Where is Shin-Ginza?

I guess it means “New Ginza” but I’ve never heard of this place. I googled it and found a reference to a law office with the words 新銀座 Shin-Ginza in the name, but it’s not a place name. At least not in Tōkyō.

What Does Higashi-Nakano Mean?

Higashi-Nakano Station

Higashi-Nakano Station

東中野 Higashi-Nakano means East Nakano. I covered Nakano a long time ago but since my blog currently only shows the last 50 articles, there are about 100 other articles obscured from view. If anyone wants to help out with this (I can’t do design-y HTML to save my life), I’d appreciate it! Anyways, since I made the gross mistake of not including Higashi-Nakano you should probably check out the Nakano article. You might want to follow that up with the article on Musashi no Kuni. Basically, Nakano means “Field in the Middle of the Musashi Plain.” The name itself is quite ancient, but the name Higashi-Nakano was a train station/bus station name that became a postal address. And by the way, I love Nakano!

What Does Edogawa Mean?

The Edo River was never renamed "Tokyo River."

The Edo River was never renamed “Tokyo River.”
Suck on that, Meiji Restoration.

This question came right after I posted pix of the Edogawa Fireworks Display. 江戸 Edo refers to the original name of the city. While Tōkyō is the modern name, the name Edo persists in certain place names or nomenclature, for example, a 2nd or 3rd generation Tōkyōite is called an 江戸っ子 Edokko child of Edo[viii]. Anyways, 江戸川 means, of course, Edo River. What exactly is the Edo River? Well, the answer depends on what period of history you’re talking about. The river has been manipulated many times since the Edo Period.  Wikipedia has a decent technical definition.

I should probably write a longer article on this subject because it is a little complicated – and honestly I don’t know much about it at all at the moment. But the basic meaning is Edo River. And that should do for now. If you look a few blog posts before this, you’ll see my video footage of the Edogawa Fireworks.

What Does Nagareyama Mean?

sorry

That’s not Tōkyō so… sorry, not gonna cover it, as tempting as it is.
But I will say that the kanji are poetic and I like this town’s name.

What Does Shinagawa-shuku Mean?

品川宿題

Shinagawa Shuku

This is the old name of Shinjuku as a post town on the old Tōkaidō highway connecting Edo to Kyōto. The name isn’t used today except when referring to art or the old status of the town. Well, actually, I shouldn’t say that… because the area is in the midst of an urban renewal effort that I’m proud to say I contributed a minute effort back in 2009 to my friend Taka’s guest house. The area has been trying to boost local tourism in the area and uses the name Shinagawa-shuku. They even set up a Shinagawa-shuku information center with maps and pictures and English speaking docents. This was in ’09, but I’m sure they’re still doing it. They even set up scannable QR codes on light posts so you can learn about the history of the area as you walk around. Good question!
Oh, and here’s my old article on Shinagawa from waaaaaaaaaay back in the day.

Why Does Minato Mean?

North side of Tokyo Bay taken from Odaiba facing the Tokyo Bayfront.

North side of Tokyo Bay taken from Odaiba facing the Tokyo Bayfront.

This is probably the easiest, 港 minato means “habor.” You will see the same kanji in 空港 kūkō airport (literally “sky harbor”). Although Minato Ward’s eastern edge ends at Tōkyō Bay, Edo’s bay was a very different shape; today’s bay has been built up with landfill.

I’ll probably write about this in more detail later. But with even a quick glance at a modern map of Tōkyō Bay and a little guesswork, most people can probably figure out a rough approximation of the original shape of the bay.

If There’s a Ueno in Tōkyō, is There a Shitano?

Random perverted kanji image.

Random perverted kanji image.

This question refers to the kanji 上野 Ueno (upper field) and 下野 Shitano (lower field). I don’t know if there is a Shitano in Tōkyō, but in 西東京 West Tōkyō, outside of the 23 Special Wards, there is a place called 下野 Shimotuske (lower field – an unrelated place name) which could be read as Shitano (but isn’t)[ix]. Interestingly enough, near this place is a large park that is an annex of the 江戸東京博物館 Edo-Tōkyō Hakubutsukan Edo-Tōkyō Museum. The annex is called the 江戸東京たてもの園 Edo-Tōkyō Tatemono-en Edo-Tōkyō Open Air Architectural Museum. I haven’t been here yet, but it sounds pretty freaking cool. They moved a bunch of old buildings here to preserve them from the wake of urban sprawl in Tōkyō and so you can enjoy a walk in the park and walk through these historic buildings as well. Great question!

OK.

I have to be perfectly honest with you. I didn’t have 10 e-mails. I had a few more, but they’re on a different to-do list.  So this post is actually just 9 short entries. But I’m always glad to hear your questions even if I can’t always get to them right away. The difficult ones get saved in a document that I check for ideas. So it really helps keep the blog exciting for me. So thanks!  And talk to you all next week!

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[ii] I alluded to some of this anti-Saitama bias in the closing of my article on Adachi.

[iii] And all other incarnations, ウル埼玉 Urusaitama (mixed with the word for “noisy” or “annoying”) and ク埼玉 Kusaitama (mixed with the word for “stinky,” et alia.

[iv] Because no one wants to talk about Saitama or New Jersey, at least not in polite company… lol.
Sorry, Saitama is an easy target. I’ll stop now.

[v] And as I have just set this up, please let me know if there are any problems using the service. It seems straight-forward, they simply provide the connection. And if you’re worried, your donation goes directly to me, they never touch it.

[vi] OK, I lied, there are actually only 9.

[vii] If you don’t know what Zōjō-ji is, you haven’t been reading Japan This long enough. So please read my 16 part expose on the Funerary Temples of the Tokugawa Shōguns.

[viii] The 2-3 generation rule depends on who you ask. And some long standing Tōkyō families may argue that certain areas of the Tōkyō Metropolis never qualify as Edokko. It’s a complex, but fascinating issue that I should probably write about more in my Yamanote VS Shitamachi page. But I’m lazy…

[ix] 下野 can also be read as Shimono, a common family name.

Yushoin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves on June 6, 2013 at 3:05 am

有章院
Yūshōin  (Divine Prince of Who the Fuck Knows[i])
七代将軍徳川家継公
7th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ietsugu
Zōjō-ji

Tokugawa Ietsugu looking quite mature for his age.

Tokugawa Ietsugu looking quite mature for his age.

The 7th shōgun, Ietsugu, was the last descendent of the direct line started by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was only shōgun for 3 years.

He died at age 6.

The next shōgun, Yoshimune, threw mad loot at Zōjō-ji for the construction of a large mausoleum next to Ienobu’s. The wood carvings and engravings were said to rival those at Nikkō making it a popular sightseeing spot until it was destroyed in the Great Tōkyō Air Raid in 1945.

Ietsugu’s mausoleum, called Yūshōin, was the last great funerary complex built by the shōgunate. Ietsugu’s short reign saw one of the first serious financial crises of the Edo Period. As an austerity measure, Yoshimune opted for a 合祀 gōshi group enshrinement. I don’t know if this is this was an edict, but the practice continued until the fall of the bakufu in 1868. Just to put things into perspective, there were 15 shōguns. We’re at the halfway point now and sadly, there will be no more funerary temples. The rest of this series is going to go by very quickly. lol

Structures of Yūshōin

Structure Name Description Condition Status
本殿
honden
the main hall destroyed

相之間
ai no ma
in gongen-zukuri architecture, the structure that connects the honden and haiden. destroyed

拝殿
haiden
the inner or private worship hall destroyed

前廊
zenrō
a latticework fence that forms the border to a temple destroyed

中門
nakamon
The “middle gate” which usually opens from a court yard into the worship hall  destroyed

左右廊
sayūrō
portico on the left and right side of a shrine destroyed

渡廊
watarō
portico destroyed

透塀
sukibei
latticework fence that encloses a temple or shrine destroyed

内透塀
uchi-sukibei
?
name means inner latticework fence
destroyed

外透塀
soto-sukibei
?
name means outer latticework fence
destroyed

仕切門
shikirimon
entrance to the oku no in destroyed

鐘楼
shōrō
belfry, bell tower destroyed

井戸屋形
ido yakata 
roof over a well, or spring destroyed

勅額門
chokugaku
mon
imperial scroll gate; posthumous name of the deceased hand written by the emperor which marked the official entrance to the funerary temple destroyed

二天門
niten
mon
main gate, protected by 2 gods extant, but in awful condition

Tōkyō Prince Hotel

奥院波板塀
oku no in

nami itabei
“wave fence” made of planks around the
inner sanctuary
destroyed

奥院拝殿
oku no in

haiden
worship hall within the inner sanctuary destroyed

奥院宝塔
oku no in hōtō
A copper 2-story pagoda styled funerary urn that houses the remains of the deceased fair condition in the Tokugawa Graveyard at Zōjō-ji
奥院唐門
oku no in
karamon
so-called Chinese style gate that provided entry and exit to the tomb of the deceased destroyed

奥院中門
oku no in

nakamon
presumably the gate to another small fence around the hōtō destroyed

水盤舎
suibansha
water basins for ritual purification destroyed

石灯籠
ishidōrō
traditional stone lanterns scattered all over the Kantō area

銅燈
dōdōrō 
copper lanterns scattered all over the Kantō area

御成門
o-nari mon
private “backdoor” entrance to Zōjō-ji for the private use of the shōgun[ii]. extant and in fair condition Tōkyō Prince Hotel

Located inside Ietsugu’s complex, was another mortuary temple for the 9th shōgun, Ieshige, who was co-enshrined at Yūshōin. I’ll talk more about that in a later article.

Nitenmon, the Main Gate

The main gate of many Buddhist temples is a 二天門 nitenmon. The name doesn’t mean “main gate” it means “2 ten” gate. the character 天 ten (“heaven”) refers to the names of the 2 deities that are housed inside of the gate. Next time you visit an Edo Period temple, see if you see this type of gate. Here’s a little background on a famous Nitenmon located at Sensō-ji, a famous tourist destination in Tōkyō (note the connection to the Tokugawa… see what I did there?).

I can’t find any pictures from the before the firebombing, so you’ll have to do with modern pictures.

The nitenmon is in deplorable condition. It's in the original location, but the property is no longer Zojo-ji.  It's now on the Tokyo Prince Hotel's land, a stone's throw from the main entrance to Zojo-ji.

The nitenmon is in deplorable condition.
It’s in the original location, but the property is no longer Zojo-ji.
It’s now on the Tokyo Prince Hotel’s land, a stone’s throw from the main entrance to Zojo-ji.

Go back to my article on Daitokuin and check out Hidetada's So-mon (essentially a nitenmon). Then look at this one. I wish they'd restore it or just tear it down.

Go back to my article on Daitokuin and check out Hidetada’s So-mon (essentially a nitenmon).
Then look at this one.
I wish they’d restore it or just tear it down.

ietsugu_nitenmon_modern (2)

Seriously, WTF, people???

ietsugu_nitenmon_modern (4)

If this were restored, it would be a fantastic addition to the Shiba area.

広目天 Kōmokuten (Virupaksha in Sanskrit) - basically a pissed off deity.

広目天 Kōmokuten (Virupaksha in Sanskrit) – basically a pissed off deity.

多聞天 (Tamonten, generally equivocated with the other Japanese kami, Bishamonten - one of the 7 gods of good luck).

多聞天 (Tamonten, generally equivocated with the other Japanese kami, Bishamonten – one of the 7 gods of good luck).
Still… dude looks pissed off as hell.
A message to Edo riff raff, don’t try to pull any shit inside the mausoleum precinct.

Imperial Scroll Gate

After walking through the nitenmon (main entrance), you would come to a courtyard which led to the next gate, the imperial scroll gate. By now you know what an imperial scroll gate is, so I’m not going to harp on it. However, apparently the scroll gate of Yūshōin was considered a masterpiece for its ostentatious color, gold leafing and most of all, for its elaborate wood carvings.

View of the courtyard between the main entrance (right) and the imperial scroll gate (left) from the o-narimon (the shogun's private entrance).

View of the courtyard between the main entrance (right) and the imperial scroll gate (left) from the o-narimon (the shogun’s private entrance).

zozyoji_k11

View of the imperial scroll gate and behind it you can see the nakamon (middle gate) of the haiden (worship hall).

View of the imperial scroll gate and behind it you can see the nakamon (middle gate) of the haiden (worship hall).

After passing thru the Nitenmon, this would be the next thing you see - the scroll gate.

After passing thru the Nitenmon, this would be the next thing you see – the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

People loved taking pictures of the scroll gate.

Most surviving pictures of this mausoleum of this gate. It was obviously something to behold.

Most surviving pictures of this mausoleum of this gate.
It was obviously something to behold.

Nakamon and Oku no In

After you passed through the scroll gate, you’d find the bell tower on your right.

Backside of the imperial scroll gate and the bell tower.

Backside of the imperial scroll gate and the bell tower.

Bell Tower and the back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Bell Tower and the back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Oku no in – Inner Sanctuary

Not sure what most of these structures are… except for the water basins, etc….

1812

Perhaps the Ai no Ma

The water basin and the well.

The water basin and the well.

0033_shiba_go06_img06-16

Not exactly sure, but probably part of the haiden or honden.

増上寺s旧御霊屋s008

Not exactly sure, but probably part of the haiden or honden.

portico inside the haiden

portico inside the haiden

After we leave the haiden, we enter another courtyard and then come to the Chinese Style Gate.

After we leave the haiden, we enter another courtyard and then come to the Chinese Style Gate.

Tamaya – the graveyard

After passing through the Chinese Gate, we come to the actual graveyard.

A bronze okunoin nakamon leading to tomb

A bronze okunoin nakamon leading to tomb

Ietsugu's grave today....

Ietsugu’s grave today….

What About that Secret Shogun Door you Mentioned?

Well, yes… there was a special gate for the shōgun which was called 御成門 o-nari mon.
But it wasn’t a secret.
In fact, it was so famous that even today there is a train station named 御成門駅 onarimon eki onarimon station. And the neighborhood itself is also called onarimon.

The shogun's private entrance....

The shogun’s private entrance….
(shot from inside Yushoin, I think.

The shogun's private gate,

The shogun’s private gate,
Notice the bansho (check point) on the left.

O-nari mon.... the shogun's back door......

O-nari mon…. the shogun’s back door……
(that’s what she said!)

back of the o-narimon

back of the shogun’s backdoor – o-nari mon

.

.

.


[i] I have no idea how to render this name. 有 means exist and in Buddhism refers to a bhavana. 章 is a kind of poem or composition. He died when he was 6, so they couldn’t very well make a posthumous name based on his reign. Maybe it has something to do with his studies. Or it could just be random.

[ii] The term 御成り o-nari refers to the presence of the shōgun. In the Edo Period, this gate would have been referred to as 御成御門 o-nari go-mon, but today the casual form is used and the second 御 is dropped. By the way, this gate was not technically an entrance to Yūshōin per se, but a general entrance to Zōjō-ji that just happened to be located at the outer wall of the site. The gate led to the courtyards between the main gates (nitenmon) and imperial scroll gates of Yūshōin and Bunshōin.

Bunshoin

In Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on June 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm

文昭院
Bunshōin  (Divine Prince of Illumination)
六代将軍徳川家宣公
6th Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Ienobu
Zōjō-ji

The 6th shogun, Yoshinobu.

The 6th shogun, Ienobu.

OK, so now we’re well into the Edo Period.

The shōgunate has established two bodaiji (funerary temples) at Zōjō-ji and Kan’ei-ji. In order of succession, they’ve enshrined the rulers; at Nikkō, at Zōjō-ji, at Nikkō, and then at Kan’ei-ji, and again at Kan’ei-ji. In my first article on Tokugawa Funerary Temples, I mentioned that interment in Edo alternated between Kan’ei-ji and Zōjō-ji. But so far, we’ve got only one enshrinement at Zōjō-ji and two consecutive enshrinements at Kan’ei-ji. So, now it’s time to balance the scales and so today we’re traveling back south down to Zōjō-ji on the occasion of the interment of the 6th shōgun, Tokugawa Ienobu.

It should be noted that as my research into these places goes on, I’ve been noticing some trends. The main thing is that the mortuary temples of Zōjō-ji are much better documented that those of Kan’ei-ji. I have some semi-educated guesses as to why this is. But if anyone knows something I don’t, I’d love to hear it.

In my article on Daitokuin, I tried to provide as many photos of the non-extant structures as possible. If you compare those pictures with the surviving structures, you can get a sense of the original. If you look at the existing structures at Nikkō and imagine them dialed down a little bit, you really can start to imagine how the original looked and felt. After reading this article, again I encourage you to look at the pictures at Kan’ei-ji and notice the parallels and differences. It should help to imagine the original.

Because of group enshrinements[i], describing Ienobu’s Bunshōin in charts as I have done with previous shrines is a little difficult. Apparently it was a massive funerary complex, rivaling Hidetada’s Daitokuin, only a little smaller. And like Daitokuin, it was a major sightseeing spot in Tōkyō until its destruction in the Great Tōkyō Air Raid on March 10th 1945[ii].

Structures of Bunshōin

Structure Name Description Condition Status
本殿
honden
the main hall destroyed

相之間
ai no ma
in gongen-zukuri architecture, the structure that connects the honden and haiden. destroyed

拝殿
haiden
the inner or private worship hall destroyed

前廊
zenrō
a latticework fence that forms the border to a temple destroyed

中門
nakamon
The “middle gate” which usually opens from a court yard into the worship hall  destroyed

左右廊
sayūrō
portico on the left and right side of a shrine destroyed

渡廊
watarō
portico destroyed

透塀
sukibei
latticework fence that encloses a temple or shrine destroyed

内透塀
uchi-sukibei
?
name means inner latticework fence
destroyed

外透塀
soto-sukibei
?
name means outer latticework fence
destroyed

仕切門
shikirimon
entrance to the oku no in destroyed

鐘楼
shōrō
belfry, bell tower destroyed

井戸屋形
ido yakata 
roof over a well, or spring destroyed

勅額門
chokugaku
mon
imperial scroll gate; posthumous name of the deceased hand written by the emperor which marked the official entrance to the funerary temple destroyed

二天門
niten mon
main gate, protected by 2 gods destroyed

奥院波板塀
oku no in

nami itabei
“wave fence” made of planks around the
inner sanctuary
(the 板 ita kanji is the same one from Itabashi and refers to planks of wood)
destroyed

奥院拝殿
oku no in

haiden
worship hall within the inner sanctuary destroyed

奥院宝塔
oku no in hōtō
A copper 2-story pagoda styled funerary urn that houses the remains of the deceased fair condition in the Tokugawa Graveyard at Zōjō-ji
奥院唐門
oku no in
karamon
so-called Chinese style gate that provided entry and exit to the tomb of the deceased destroyed

奥院中門
oku no in

nakamon
presumably the gate to another small fence around the hōtō extant and functional, but damaged now the entrance to the Tokugawa Graveyard at Zōjō-ji
水盤舎
suibansha
water basins for ritual purification destroyed

石灯籠
ishidōrō
traditional stone lanterns 37 are scattered about Zōjō-ji [iii]

銅燈
dōdōrō 
copper lanterns;
there were 138 copper lanterns at Bunshōin
95 still exist Fudō-ji in Saitma.

The list above roughly itemizes the main structures at Bunshōin as they relate to the 6th shōgun, Tokugawa Ienobu. As mentioned before, other shōguns were enshrined here. The ridiculous amount of copper lanterns reflects total from all of the enshrinements. Only 95 exist today.

__________________________

Maps of Zoujou-ji after Daitokuin.

Map from a 1937 English language travel guide.  In the center you can see Zojo-ji's main gate and temple. On the left is Daitokuin, on the right large complex is Bunshoin and some of the other shoguns' graves.

Map from a 1937 English language travel guide.
At number 12, you can see Zojo-ji’s main temple.
On the left is Daitokuin, the complex immediately on the right right is Bunshoin, next to that are some of the other shoguns’ graves.
Click to enlarge.

Another map of Zojo-ji. In the middle you can see the main temple. To the left of it, Daitokuin. To the immediate right is Bunshoin.

Another map of Zojo-ji.
In the middle you can see the main temple.
To the left of it, Daitokuin.
To the immediate right is Bunshoin.
Click to enlarge.

Here's a close up of the map above. The main structures are labeled for her pleasure.

Here’s a close up of the map above.
The main structures are labeled for her pleasure.

As you can see in the labeled map above, the layout of the 6th shōgun’s tomb and the 7th shōgun’s tomb is nearly identical up to the nakamon (middle gate). Because of this and because the similar design, I got a bit confused at what pictures I was looking at. Some other people have too, so some of the pictures I’ve come across online were mislabeled. I’m fairly certain, I have most of the pictures straight, but be aware, some of these might be from the 7th shōgun’s funerary temple — I’ll mention if I’m not sure.

___________________________

Imperial Scroll Gate

Front view of the Imperial Scroll Gate.

Front view of the Imperial Scroll Gate.
Note the bell tower in the background.

View of the backside of the Imperial Scroll Gate.

View of the backside of the Imperial Scroll Gate.

Back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Back of the Imperial Scroll Gate

Same shot, different cropping.

Same shot, different cropping.

I'm pretty sure this is Bunshoin (Ienobu), but it might be Yushoin (Ietsugu). It's hard to tell with the coloration and without being able to see the imperial scroll (plaque).

I’m pretty sure this is Bunshoin (Ienobu),
but it might be Yushoin (Ietsugu).
It’s hard to tell with the coloration and without being able to see the imperial scroll (plaque).

Bell Tower

After passing through the imperial scroll gate, there was a bell tower on the right hand side.

After passing through the imperial scroll gate, there was a bell tower on the right hand side.
In the background you can see the nami itabei (“wave fence” made of wooden planks).

_____________________________

Oku no In
(The Inner Sanctum)

The water basin was required for ritual purification before entering the oku no in (the inner sanctum). To get to this area, you had to pass through the nakamon (middle gate) which brought you to fenced in 榔 rō area surrounding the haiden. The haiden was the building for worship.

The suibansha, or water basin.  You can see the wall of the

The suibansha, or water basin.
You can see the zenro in the background.
That’s the fence connected to the nakamon which leads to the haiden (worship hall).

Nakamon (middle gate) which leads to the haiden (worship hall).

Nakamon (middle gate) which leads to the haiden (worship hall).

拝殿 中門

Same picture, different processing.

Inside the sayuro (the porticos on the left and right  side of the zenro) surrounding the main hall.

Inside the sayuro (the porticos on the left and right side of the zenro) surrounding the main hall.

A close up of the wooden carvings decorating the inside of the haiden.

A close up of the wooden carvings and paintings decorating the inside of the haiden.

____________________

Tamaya – The Graveyard

It took me forever to figure out wtf a shikirimon was in shrine/temple architecture. It's the gate that leads out of the oku no in to the next area which is the graveyard. If you look through the gate, you can see a stairway. This is a key feature of Bunshoin, the funerary urn itself was located at the top of the hill.

It took me forever to figure out wtf a shikirimon was in shrine/temple architecture.
It’s the gate that leads out of the oku no in to the next area which is the graveyard.
If you look through the gate, you can see a stairway.
This is a key feature of Bunshoin, the funerary urn itself was located at the top of the hill.

The stair way leads to the karamon (Chinese style gate). Beyond the gate is the cemetery.

The stair way leads to the karamon (Chinese style gate).
Beyond the gate is the cemetery.

Same shot, different cropping.

Same shot, different cropping.

After passing through the karamon, we come to another nakamon. This is a copper (bronze?) gate, typical of the type that surround the actual graveyard.

After passing through the karamon, we come to another nakamon. This is a copper (bronze?) gate, typical of the type that surround the actual graveyard. And another stairway….

The gate still exists. Not sure if they moved it, but my gut instinct says it's in the same place as it originally was. Today it is the entrance to the Tokugawa Cemetery, which houses the graves of the other shoguns enshrined at Zojo-ji. My guess is that the area is original tamaya of Ienobu.

The gate still exists.
Not sure if they moved it, but my gut instinct says it’s in the same place as it originally was.
Today it is the entrance to the Tokugawa Cemetery, which houses the graves of the other shoguns enshrined at Zojo-ji.
My guess is that the area is original tamaya of Ienobu.

A view of the steps to the tamaya (cemetery). You can see the wooden fence and the stone walls and stairway.  Today, only the gate exists.

A view of the steps to the tamaya (cemetery).
You can see the wooden fence and the stone walls and stairway.
Today, only the gate exists.

nakamon - karamon (3)

Close up of the Tokugawa family crest on the former nakamon (tamaya gate).

nakamon - karamon (4)

The two metal panels on the left and right of the gate feature ascending and descending dragons respectively.
The bronze (copper?) has rusted so badly that you can hardly see the dragons unless you look for them.
This is a descending dragon.

tokugawa_ienobu_grave

2-story pagoda style funerary urn.
It’s nice that some of his stone lanterns are still there.

tokugawa_ienobu_grave222

Here you can easily see that the grave is made of copper (bronze?) as opposed to the stone base.

_________________________

Lanterns

Copper (bronze?) lanterns at Fudo-ji in Saitama.  Many lanterns were salvaged from the firebombed mausolea at Zojo-ji and moved to Fudo-ji.  I'm not sure which mausoleum these particular lanterns are from, but they are most definitely from Zojo-ji.  And, you know, a lantern is a lantern, basically...

Copper (bronze?) lanterns at Fudo-ji in Saitama.
Many lanterns were salvaged from the firebombed mausolea at Zojo-ji and moved to Fudo-ji.
I’m not sure which mausoleum these particular lanterns are from, but they are most definitely from Zojo-ji.
And, you know, a lantern is a lantern, basically…

bunshoin_stone_lantern

A stone lantern clearly marked
BUNSHOIN.

Sadly, all that exists of Bunshōin today are those lanterns scattered across Tokyo and Saitama (seemingly at random) and the gate to the modern shōgun cemetery and Ienobu’s funerary urn. The Tokugawa Shōgun Cemetery was created after WWII to put all the 2-story pagoda style urns together in one place. As we continue this series, you’ll see that originally the graves were very much separate.

.

.

.


[i] I’ve alluded to these group enshrinements before, but keep in mind that up to now, the shōgunate has been throwing mad cash at funerary temples. This will stop eventually.

[ii] By the way, what kind of assholes firebomb a major metropolitan city’s greatest works of art and private residences in the middle of March when it’s still cold as shit outside at night??? The longer I do this series, the more pissed off I get about the destruction of these treasures. It’s bad enough that the Meiji government tore down so many castles, but they left a lot of beautiful temples and shrines alone despite their connection to the Tokugawa – only to have the Americans indiscriminately bomb the fuck out of them, never to be rebuilt.

[iii] This website catalogs where all of Zōjō-ji’s stone lanterns are located now (Japanese only).
http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/tom-itou/

Daitokuin

In Japanese History, Japanese Shrines & Temples, Tokugawa Shogun Graves, Travel in Japan on May 29, 2013 at 1:23 am

徳院
Daitokuin (Tower of Benevolence & Virtue)
二代将軍徳川秀忠公
2nd Shōgun, Lord Tokugawa Hidetada
Zōjō-ji


Tokugawa Hidetada Daitokuin Taitokuin Zojoji Shiba Mausoleum

The Main Hall of Daitokuin (btw, Taitokuin is another possible reading).
You may want to refer back to this picture later.
BTW, if you go here, this picture shows a hill on the left side. This is incorrect. The whole area was relatively level, it being located at the top of a hill anyways.
The modern “main gate” has been moved to a new location. But the original spot is marked with a signpost.

Tokugawa Hidetada.


To the average Japanese his name has sort of dissipated into the ether. If they remember him at all, he’s the uninteresting guy between Ieyasu and Iemitsu. To fans of the Sengoku Era, he’s kinda boring compared to all the major warlords of the day. To fans of the Edo Era, he’s the son of a great man and the father of another great man, but not a great man himself.


But in my opinion, Hidetada’s reputation as a boring shōgun is totally unfair.


Part of his bad rep is the fact that he was Tokugawa Ieyasu’s second son. In the final throes of the Sengoku Period, Ieyasu had ordered his first son, Nobuyasu, to commit seppuku after a period of house arrest for suspected treason against Oda Nobunaga. Famously, Ieyasu is said to have regretted this order until he died. But such was life in Sengoku Japan. To make things worse, at the Battle of Sekigahara – Ieyasu’s most important battle – Hidetada arrived late… late as in, after the battle. Ieyasu was pissed off like a motherfucker and never forgot this.


Why do I think this is unfair?


1 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault he was born second (primogeniture was supremely important at the time)

2 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault that Nobuyasu was (apparently) a dick and got mixed up with people who were plotting Nobunaga’s murder (whether this was true or not is unknown).

3 – It’s not Hidetada’s fault that Nobunaga insisted on executing Nobuyasu and that Ieyasu ordered his own first born son to do seppuku in order to have an “honorable death.”

4 – Hidetada ruled for a little under 20 years. Not bad at all given the fact that even Hideyoshi hadn’t held onto power for more than 10 years. His own father, Ieyasu, abdicated from the position of shōgun after just 2 years[1]. So Hidetada set a record by just being alive.

5 – Besides being late to Sekigahara, one of the other alleged reasons Ieyasu hated Hidetada was that supposedly Hidetada married 江姫 Gō-hime for love. To Ieyasu this was the ultimate pussy move. Real men used women for making babies and managing the household while men tended to matters of war and state[2]. But I think it’s sweet.

6 Hidetada made strong relations with 朝廷 chōtei the imperial court in Kyōto by marrying the Tokugawa into the imperial bloodline.
7 – He encouraged massive building efforts in Edo, including Kan’ei-ji.
8 – He had a bad ass mustache.

Dude had a great mustache...

Dude had a great mustache…




So yeah, sometimes Tokugawa Hidetada gets cast as a pussy or as a shitty shōgun, but I don’t think that’s really the case. He definitely had the bad luck of being sandwiched between 2 remarkable shōguns in a remarkable time. But he wasn’t a shitty shōgun by any stretch of the imagination. The shitty shōguns don’t come until later. And they will come, believe me.


But in our story, Hidetada is the hero. He donated land to the Buddhist priest Tenkai to develop a second funerary temple complex at Kan’ei-ji in Ueno.  Even though Hidetada developed Kan’ei-ji, he chose to be interred at Zōjō-ji. Despite his direct order that he just have a simple gravestone, his mausoleum was said to have been the most opulent structure at Zōjō-ji. The shōgunate threw buckets of money into the development of a shrine worthy of the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu.


Most of the Daitokuin was destroyed in the firebombing of WWII and sadly never rebuilt. Luckily for us, a few structures survived. Except for one gate, the remaining pieces were sent to 不動寺 Fudō-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama. Looking at the pictures of the original structures, they do look quite elaborate. If you see the restored 惣門 sōmon main gate in Shiba Park today, you’ll be shocked at how intense it is. Whether it looked like that in the Edo Period or not, I don’t know… but when it was new it probably did shine like that. Also seeing the level of detail and craftsmanship of the remaining pieces in Saitama, it really breaks my heart that all these treasures were lost forever.  Having spent the last 3 days sorting through as many photos as I could, I really do believe it’s a tragedy that these buildings were not only destroyed but never rebuilt.


Structure Name

Description

Condition

Location

殿

honden

Main temple

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

watarō

Like an outdoor hallway that separated the oku no in from the honden.

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

nakamon

Middle gate (2x)

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

sukibei

A latticework fence common at shrines

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

水盤舎 2

suibansha

Water basins for ritual purification (2x)

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

全部

oku no in

Inner sanctuary complex;
included the 2 story pagoda that housed Hidetada’s remains and series of gates and buildings and a 5 story pagoda.

Everything

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

sōmon

Main gate

Restored to bizarrely perfect condition

Shiba Park


勅額

chokugakumon

Imperial scroll gate (bears the okurigō gifted by the emperor upon the deceased; bears the shrine’s namesake)

Maintained in good condition

Fudō-ji
Tokorozawa
(moved in 1960)

丁子

chōjimon

Clove gate

(led into the area that led into the cemetery)

Maintained in good condition

Fudō-ji
Tokorozawa
(moved in 1960)

御成

o-inari mon

Gate dedicated to Inari


(I’ll talk more about this when I get back to Tōkyō place names…)

Maintained in good condition

Fudō-ji
Tokorozawa
(moved in 1960)

銅灯籠
dōtōrō
石灯籠
ishitōrō

Copper & stone lamps for illumination at night 

Many have survived

Most are at Fudō-ji

(Tokorozawa)

崇源院
霊牌
gen’in
reihaisho


Mausoleum of Gō, Hidetada’s wife.
gen’in is her ingō (“-in” name).

Destroyed

Shiba Park

(ruins)

General Map of Daitokuin

In the middle you can see a bunch of dudes in white lined up in front of the 惣門 Sōmon Main Gate. Pass through the main gate, that brings you to the 勅額門 chokugakumon imperial scroll gate. From there, you can see the 2 水盤舎 suibansha wash basins on the left and right. If you continue straight, you’ll arrive at the 本殿 honden main hall. To the right of the main you can see 崇源院 gen’in princess Gō‘s grave. To the left of the main hall,  you can go up the hill to the 奥院 oku no in, the inner sanctuary complex which housed Hidetada’s remains. The mortuary building was an octagonal, 2-story pagoda with a smaller 2-story urn made of wood inside. There was also another worship hall called a 拝殿 haiden in the oku no in. The five story pagoda next to it was technically part of Zōjō-ji, and not Daitokuin. Apparently some fences and monuments remained in situ until the 1960’s when they were either demolished or moved to another location.

Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji

Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji.
You’ll probably want to refer back to this painting throughout the article.


Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji (Legend)

Daitokuin Complex at Zojoji (Legend)

総門 Sōmon
The Main Gate

This type of gate is the street level gate. It’s meant a boundary between the mundane and the spiritual.
Called Sōmon in Japanese, the main gate survived all sorts of conflagrations and earthquakes. How it survived the firebombing that destroyed most of Zōjō-ji is beyond me. It’s been restored and it is splendid. But it looks so new that… I dunno. You be the judge.

Somon Gate (a type of nitemon gate). Notice the river on the right. Also in the background you can see one of the water basins (left) and the choji mon (right). You can also see the stairs to the imperial scroll gate.

Somon Gate (a type of nitemon gate).
Notice the river on the right.
Also in the background you can see one of the water basins (left) and the choji mon (right).
You can also see the stairs to the imperial scroll gate.

Tokugawa Hidetada's Grave - Main Gate

Daitokuin’s Main Gate
(you can see the Imperial Scroll Gate in the background)

The Main Entrance to Daitokuin as it looks today.

The Main Entrance to Daitokuin as it looks today.
This gate was originally located at the top of the hill, behind a small stream. The ruins of the streambank and original location of this gate and the imperial scroll gate are preserved and clearly marked in English and Japanese.

The Main Gate of Daitokuin at Christmas... What would Edo People think of this...?

The Main Gate of Daitokuin at Christmas… Looking down the hill at the “exit hole” of the Main Gate.

The derelict gate

The temple precinct was converted into a driving range and the main gate sat at the entrance until the restoration in 1997.

勅額門 chokugakumon
The Imperial Scroll Gate

The emperor — supposedly — thinks up and writes the posthumous name of the shōgun and then that handwritten calligraphy is made into a plaque for the true entrance to the temple. While the sōmon is the street level entrance, the imperial scroll gate, called 勅額門 chokugakumon announces  the name of the temple. It’s the gate between the mundane world and the spiritual realm of the deified shōgun.

Tokugawa Hidetada's Imperial Scroll Gate Saitama Zojoji

The Imperial Scroll Gate survived and was moved to Fudoji in Tokorozawa, Saitama in 1960.

水盤舎 suibansha
Water Basins for Ritual Purification

A crappy picture from the bakumatsu... luckily for us, despite its shittiness as a photograph, it clearly shows the courtyard between the Imperial Scroll Gate and the Main Hall -- along with the two wash basins.

A crappy picture from the bakumatsu… luckily for us, despite its shittiness as a photograph, it clearly shows the courtyard. On the left is the chokugakumon (imperial scroll gate), in the middle (top and bottom) are 2 matching wash basins (suibansha), on the right, the large building is the honden (main hall). In the middle bottom is a small gate called the choujimon (clove gate). You may want to refer back to this picture throughout the article.

daitokuin_courtyard

I found a better version of the photo.
It’s a little smaller, but it’s clear enough to see what’s going on.

Taken from the right side of the Imperial Scroll Gate, this picture shows the water basin and the fence and the main hall.

Taken from the right side of the Imperial Scroll Gate, this picture shows the water basin and the fence and the main hall.

Again, from the right side of the inside pf the imperial scroll gate, another view of the main hall with the washbasins on either side.

From the left side of the imperial scroll gate. Both wash basins can be seen and princess Go’s funerary temple can also be seen in the background.

本殿 honden
The Main Hall

Detail of the main hall's roof...

Detail of the main hall’s roof…

Nakamon, the middle gate. This gate led to the main hall. You can clearly see the latticework on the suikbei (fence).

Nakamon, the middle gate.
This gate led to the main hall.
You can clearly see the latticework on the suikbei (fence).

奥院 oku no in
The Inner Sanctuary (Mortuary)

From Hidetada’s main hall, if we turn left and walk up through the gate we ‘ll come to a steep staircase which leads to the 奥院 oku no in, the inner sanctuary or mortuary/cemetery. At the top of the stairs is another gate called 御稲荷門 O-narimon. This was a gate for the personal use of the shougun and his attendants. 100 years later, another o-nari gate would be built at Yūshōin.

O-narimon, leading to the Oku no in (inner sanctuary). Note the bridge. On the painting above you can just barely make out a small stream behind the gate.

Oinarimon, the Inari Gate, leading to the Oku no in (inner sanctuary). Note the bridge. On the painting above you can just barely make out a small stream behind the Inari Gate.

Oinarimon, the Inari Gate as it looks today. Now it is preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

O-narimon, (private gate for the shogun) as it looks today.
Now it is preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

Close up of the Inari Gate. The detail is fantastic and the color gives you a good idea of how the structures in the black and white photos would have looked. Beautiful!

Close up of the Inari Gate. The detail is fantastic and the color gives you a good idea of how the structures in the black and white photos would have looked. Beautiful!

An even closer look at the Inari Gate.

An even closer look at the Inari Gate.

Next we come to another gate called 中門 Nakamon, middle gate, this one leads to an octagonal 2-story pagoda. Inside the pagoda was a 2-story wooden urn which housed the remains of Hidetada.

The fence and nakamon surrounding the 2-story pagoda.

The tamagaki (fence) and nakamon surrounding the 2-story pagoda.

The fence and the 2-story pagoda.

The fence and the 2-story pagoda and the tamagaki (fence).

Nakamon and the 2-story pagoda with wood props.

Nakamon and the 2-story pagoda with wood props.

The Nakamon, middle gate, entrance to the 2-story pagoda.

The Nakamon, middle gate, entrance to the 2-story pagoda.
(I’m not sure, but I think this picture is taken with the photographer’s back to the pagoda, meaning the structure in the background is the haiden, hall of worship.)

Hidetada's funerary urn.

The wooden urn that held Tokugawa Hidetada’s remains stood inside the 2-story pagoda.

The wooden urn that held Tokugawa Hidetada's remains stood inside the 2-story pagoda.

A colorized shot of the wooden funerary urn and a funky table in front of it.
Note the carved dragons on the wall in the background.

After the firebombing, this is all that was left of the octagonal pagoda that housed Hidetada's wooden urn.  I'm not sure what the giant poop in the center is all about.

After the firebombing, this is all that was left of the octagonal pagoda that housed Hidetada’s wooden urn.
I’m not sure what the giant poop in the center is all about.

Pretty sure this is the remains of Hidetada's octagonal grave.

Pretty sure this is the remains of Hidetada’s octagonal grave.

In front of the 2-story pagoda was the 拝殿 haiden, another hall of worship separate from the 本殿 honden, main hall. In the close up of the Nakamon above, you can see the roof behind the 玉垣 tamagaki fence. I don’t have a picture of the outside of the building, but you can see it in the painting above.

Woodwork detail of the 2-story pagoda.

Detail of the outside of the haiden.

Inside the haiden worship hall.

Inside the haiden worship hall.

While it wasn’t part of Daitokuin, on the hill across from the haiden, there was a 5-story pagoda.

The 5-story pagoda of Zojoji

The 5-story pagoda of Zojoji.
Note the 2 benches. Shiba Park used to be really nice, huh?

Now, if we turn around and go back down the stairs and walk past the main hall, we’ll find a gate called 丁子門 chōjimon, the clove gate. If we pass through the clove gate, we will enter another mortuary called Sūgen’in. This is the grave of Hidetada’s wife, Gō.

Choujimon - the clove gate - is still preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

Chojimon – the clove gate – is still preserved at Fudo-ji in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

崇源院 Sūgen’in
Source of Adoration
Posthumous name of Princess Gō.

Sugen'in

Sugen’in

Sugen'in Note there are more trees and there is a sign for tourists.

Sugen’in
Note there are more trees and there is a sign for tourists.

Close up of the gate to Sugen'in. (love the lazy just sitting on the stairs...)

Close up of the gate to Sugen’in.
(love the lazy just sitting on the stairs…)

Hidetada and Go-hime's funerary urns were made of wood, so they were lost in the firebombing. They were enshrined together. Today their remains rest in the Tokugawa Cemetery at Zojo-ji.

Hidetada and Go-hime’s funerary urns were made of wood, so they were lost in the firebombing.
They were enshrined together.
Today their remains rest in the Tokugawa Cemetery at Zojo-ji.

And finally, the copper lamps

Many stone lamps and copper lamps were on the premises. Some of the lamps that survived the firebombing were re-used at Zōjō-ji, but most were relocated to Fudō-ji in 1960.

The suriviing copper lamps at Fudo-ji.

The surviving copper lamps at Fudo-ji.

The ruins of Daitokuin have been turned into a park, you can see the area well from Tokyo Tower.

The ruins of Daitokuin have been turned into a park, you can see the area well from Tokyo Tower.

If you walk through the Somon (main gate) and go up the stairs, at the top of the hill there is an exhibit of the excavated remains of one of the waterways that coursed through the Daitokuin complex.

If you walk through the Somon (main gate) and go up the stairs, at the top of the hill there is an exhibit of the excavated remains of one of the waterways that coursed through the Daitokuin complex.

 

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[1] It must be said, however, that Ieyasu abdicated in order to oversee the succession of his shōgunate from behind the scenes. So in as much as Hidetada was nominally shōgun, it could be said that Ieyasu was still in charge. Nevertheless, as shōgun, Hidetada wasn’t a puppet. Edicts and policies enacted during his reign are distinct from Ieyasu’s.


[2] s name was written many different ways. She was also called 江与 Eyo and , among other things. It’s really complicated, so I’m just calling her Gō.

Why is Shiba called Shiba?

In Japanese History on May 23, 2013 at 12:37 am


Shiba (grass/lawn)

Shiba. There's stil some lush greenery as well as some gaijin lushes.

Shiba. There’s still some lush greenery as well as some gaijin lushes.

The first theory I came across was one that said that the grass in this part of the Musashi Plain was particularly lush. A quick search for old art depicting any areas of the vast Musashi Plain will yield pictures of tall grasses.  Search for plants of the Musashi Plain and all that you’ll see are lush grasses. I don’t see how an area next to the sea would be particularly more luxurious than any other area.

The second theory is that the 斯波氏 Shiba clan had a residence in the area. During the Ashikaga shōgunate, the Shiba were one the families that could hold the position of 管領 kanrei deputy shōgun (literally controller). While the family line came to an end in the mid 1500’s, it’s not impossible to imagine that some member of the Shiba family had a residence here. However, there doesn’t seem to be any collaborating evidence for this theory.

Shiba this, bitch!

These are shiba (柴) at high tide in Omori Kaigan. They’ve been placed in the inlet to harvest seaweed, a centuries old technique… apparently still used.

Another theory is that in the early days, when there were many shallow inlets cutting in to what is now central Tōkyō (and this part of town was literally part of the bay, the area was characterized by brushwood used to grow and harvest 海苔 nori seaweed. The general word for brushwood is 柴 shiba*. As far back as the Sengoku Period, we know there to have been a 柴村 Shiba Mura Shiba Village in the area. In the early Edo Period, 柴町 Shiba Machi Shiba Town is attested. The name change reflects an area whose population had grown substantially. In the early Edo Period we start to see an alternate writing as 芝町 Shiba Machi. Over the course of the Edo Period, this new variation becomes the standard and the old variant dies out. Products developed in the area develop a widespread reputation as “Shiba Machi” products – like a brand name.

A view of Zojoji, one of the two Tokugawa shogun funerary temples in Edo. Notice the long sando.   (You don remember what a sando was, don't you??)*****

A view of Zojoji, one of the two Tokugawa shogun funerary temples in Edo. Notice the long sando.
(You do remember what a sando was, don’t you??)****

I couldn’t find anything to explain the change in the kanji or the demand for goods produced in the area, but I have a theory. The shōgunate built a funerary temple complex called Zōjōji in Shiba. As a result, many daimyō residences were also built in the area. I’m willing to bet that the urbanization of the bay front area and controlling the water that flowed in and out of the bay curtailed land/water use in the area. This would have produced more dry land where lush fields of grass might grow instead of mushy wetlands**. The gentrification that came with the arrival of nobles and one of the shōgun family’s main temples would have given the area a lot of prestige. This is all conjecture, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable that lush grass became more of the stereotypical image of the area than swampy inlets filled with half-naked villagers checking their crappy brushwood nets for seaweed. It’s also not unreasonable to assume that as the area had grown in prestige a nice kanji like (lawn, grass) was preferable to which looks like something you’d use for kindling in a fire.

Some of that the lush-ass Musashino grass. Too bad you can't smoke that shit.

Some of that the lush-ass Musashino grass. Too bad you can’t smoke that shit.

Personally, I don’t find any of these satisfying etymologies, but the last one has a lot more to play with. The practice of using 柴 shiba brushwood to harvest nori is apparently still done in a few existing inlets (see picture).

But there is a chronology problem. In 1486, there is a reference to an area called 芝ノ浦 Shiba no ura “under Shiba.” This place name uses the “grass/lawn” kanji and not the “brushwood” kanji. The area is noted for salt production and shipping***.

In present day Tōkyō, the south of Shiba is called 芝浦 Shibaura (literally, “under Shiba”). This indicates that the grass/lawn kanji variant may have been in use prior to the Edo Period. It might also suggest that – coincidentally – there were two areas phonetically referred to as しば shiba but – possibly – unrelated to each other etymologically. If this were the case, the alternation of the kanji in the early Edo Period could reflect a confusion or ambiguity about the area that was finally resolved through standardization by the mid-Edo Era – perhaps through a process similar to what I hypothesized above…

…or perhaps not.

Shiba Shrimp - Delicious Japanese Food

Mmmmmmm. Shiba Ebi.

So, who the fuck knows? Once again, the origins of another pre-Edo Period place name prove to be elusive. But this time I won’t leave you totally empty handed. As I mentioned before, items produced in Shiba were famous throughout the land in the Edo Period. One of the products was a particularly delicious variety of shrimp that were abundant in the area and brought into port in Shiba/Shibaura. Originally 芝海老 Shiba Ebi Shiba Shrimp was the local name for this species in the area. The species wasn’t specific to this corner of Edo Bay, but the name spread and became the standard appellation for this type of crustacean everywhere in Japan. So while I can’t give you a clear etymology of Shiba, the origins of the name Shiba Shrimp is something we know 100%.

The ironic thing is that these days the water is so polluted that there are very few of them in Tōkyō Bay. Now, most Shiba Shrimp in Japan come from Niigata and Taiwan.
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* Compare this to the origin of Hibiya, which is most likely derived from a different method of growing and harvesting nori. (On a somewhat unrelated note, this brushwood kanji is the same character used for 柴犬 shibaken, the famous breed of Japanese dogs.)
** Check out my article on Two Famous Murders to see a picture of nearby Mita/Azabu where you can clearly see “lush grass” growing.
*** Compare this to the origin of Shiodome, which has a salt production theory associated with it.
**** You already forgot what a sandō was?? FFS, have a look at the origin of Omotesandō.

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