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Ōedo Line: Higashi Nakano & Nakai

In Japanese History on July 14, 2015 at 7:06 am

Higashi Nakano (East Nakano)

Higashi Nakano - so boring that you have to blur out people's faces.  No pride here.

Higashi Nakano – so boring that you have to blur out people’s faces.
No pride here.

As much good stuff as I have to say about Nakano, I have nothing to say about this part of town. Not that it’s a bad place; I just don’t know anything about it. I’ve only been there twice. Both times I ate very mediocre rāmen.


If you wanna know more about Nakano:

The only reason to come to this area. Check out this beautiful house!!!

The only reason to come to this area.
Check out Hayashi Fumiko’s beautiful house.

Nakai (middle well)

The place name is thought derive from a spring and headwaters used as an 井戸 ido well at the top of the 落合 Ochiai Plateau. A second theory suggests that the plateau was water rich and so there were many wells (or springs) there. Both are not mutually exclusive, but the first theory is backed up by the fact that modern Nakai Station is located in 上落合 Kami-Ochiai. In old village names 上 kami refers to upstream, 中 naka midstream, and 下 shimo downstream. Obviously, the start of a stream or river would be located upstream.

As for what’s in this area? I don’t know. I’ve never been, but it seems fairly residential. The only famous thing I could find online about it is the 林芙美子記念館 Hayashi Fumiko Kinenkan Hayashi Fumiko Memorial Museum. She was a Japanese writer and poet active in the Shōwa Era. All I know about her is this Wikipedia article . But if you like her writing, maybe this station is for you.

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Ōedo Line: Nakano-Sakaue

In Japanese History on July 13, 2015 at 5:04 am

Nakano-Sakaue (Nakano Hilltop)

nakano sakue

The name of this area, 中野 Nakano, means “middle field.” The name is said to derive from the fact that Nakano sat smack in the middle of former 武蔵国 Musashi no Kuni Mushashi Province.

Nakano-Sakaue is located near the border of Shinjuku Ward and Nakano Ward which is marked by the 神田川 Kanda-gawa Kanda River. The bridge that links Shinjuku and Nakano is called 淀橋 Yodobashi – literally Yodo Bridge. If you’re familiar with Japanese electronics retailers, you’ve probably heard of Yodobashi Camera. The store’s name derives from this bridge.

Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku

Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku

There is a temple near the station called 宝仙寺 Hōsen-ji that boasts an Edo Period 仁王門 Niō Mon and a 3 story pagoda that was one of the 6 Towers of Edo. The list of 6 towers included the pagodas at Sensō-ji in Asakusa and the two Tokugawa funerary temples of Kan’ei-ji in Ueno and Zōjō-ji in Shiba. That is to say, it had some pretty high pedigree in its day. Today the temple is a shadow of its former glory and even the local people don’t know much about it. Every year in February, a bunch of old men dress up like warrior monks and put on a parade that amounts to little more than a clownshow for elementary school students who have no interest in samurai or old men.

The Nio Gate of Hosen-ji

The Nio Gate of Hosen-ji

In the Edo Period, the area was dotted with small villages along the 青梅街道 Ōmekaidō Ōme Highway and the Kanda River. Today, it’s primarily a residential area and while I love Nakano, there isn’t anything touristy to do in Nakano-Sakaue. There’s a good 串揚げ kushiage place there. Kushiage refers to finger foods that are skewered, battered, and deep fried. It goes best with beer, shōchu, or sake. The shop is super cheap and has a good local vibe. It’s called 平田屋 Hirata-ya and can be found here, a 5 min walk from the station[i].



The station was attacked with Sarin gas in the spring of 1995 by a religion called オウム真理教 Aumu Shinrikyō. The attack left 12 dead and irreparably injured many more.

When I lived in Nakano, I met a person whose husband was among the dead. She still suffers various after-effects to this day including severe memory loss. 20 years later, most people don’t make any connection between this station and terrorism. It seems like any other normal station.


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[i] Nakano-Sakaue Station is home to the 丸ノ内線 Marunouchi-sen Marunouchi Line, too. So it has great access from Shinjuku Station. I would walk from Shinjuku to there, but I’m a walking maniac. If you don’t know the area, it’s better to take the train.

Ōedo Line: Yoyogi & Shinjuku

In Japanese History on July 8, 2015 at 4:49 am

Yoyogi (never ending trees)



Yoyogi Park is one of Tōkyō’s greatest parks. It’s pretty much beautiful all year long, but it’s really famous for cherry blossoms in the spring. It attracts a younger and less conventional crowd, including foreigners. For history nerds there is very little to see here unless you search the grounds of 明治神宮 Meiji Jingū the Meiji Shrine for the remnants of the Ii clan’s estate (of which virtually nothing is left).

In my original article, I went into detail about the etymology of this location. But even if you don’t care about Japanese history, Yoyogi Park is a lot of fun. It is without a doubt, one of the most exciting public spaces in Tōkyō. In terms of liveliness, it ranks in my top 3 “party parks” with Ueno Park and Inokashira Park. But all three parks are distinct. There’s no true comparison.

This station gives you access to:

Yoyogi Park is a famous 青姦 aokan (outdoor sex) spot. If you can get away with it, do it!

Yoyogi Park is a famous 青姦 aokan (outdoor sex) spot. If you can get away with it, do it!

Shinjuku (new post town)


If you’ve been following this series from the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve come full circle. The Ōedo Line begins at Shinjuku Nishiguchi, the east side of Shinjuku Station. From this point on, we’re going to venture outside of shōgun’s capital. In the Edo Period, this area was on the outskirts of the city. It was suburban along the 青梅街道 Ōme Kaidō Ōme Highway and 甲州街道 Kōshū Kaidō Kōshū Highway and more or less country if you veered off the main roads.

The old Ōme Kaidō passes under the elevated train tracks near Shinjuku Station.  The tunnel is referred to by foreigners as the

The old Ōme Kaidō passes under the elevated train tracks near Shinjuku Station.
The tunnel is referred to by foreigners as the “rape tunnel” because it was so shady at night, but now it’s well lit and actually features art exhibits 24 hours.
To the best of my knowledge, no one has been raped in there. It’s just a really off color joke by foreigners that I heard. I’ve walked through there at night and it’s always crowded and lively. You’re more likely to smell a homeless person sleeping than encounter any kind of violence there. Nevertheless, the horrible nickname persists.

Shinjuku Station gives you access to almost the whole world. It’s one of the busiest train stations in the world. The name literally means “New Post Town” and refers to its old name as 内藤新宿 Naitō-Shinjuku. Naitō was the daimyō family that had an estate here on the Kōshū Highway which led to modern day Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. Once their estate was built, a post town for travelers popped up. In the post war era, the name Naitō was dropped and the area has officially been known as Shinjuku ever since.

Want to read more?

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[i] Before the end of 2015, I will have a comprehensive article about Shinjuku. I promise.

Ōedo Line: Roppongi

In Japanese History on July 6, 2015 at 6:03 am

Roppongi (6 Trees)

the pong

In the Edo Period, this plateau was the home of many daimyō residences. Today it’s has a reputation as the place where foreigners who can’t speak Japanese and are in Japan for a minute hang out. That reputation especially applies to the area near 六本木交差点 Roppongi Kōsaten Roppongi Crossing. It’s a kind of shitty area, in my opinion. There are a lot of people on the streets trying to lure people into restaurants of varying repute. Some are fine, but the good ones don’t need to pull in people off the street. Remember that if you visit this area.

Mōri Garden, a step back into the Yamanote of the Edo Period.

Mōri Garden, a step back into the Yamanote of the Edo Period.

That said, Roppongi Hills and Roppongi Mid-Town are actually quite upscale shopping and relaxing areas. They have movie theaters, art museums, restaurants, gardens, and high end shopping. At Roppongi Hills, the Mōri Garden is said to be the vestigial garden of the Mōri clan who had a palace on this land in the Edo Period. If you venture off the main thoroughfare from Roppongi Crossing, you’re bound to discover a plethora of tiny izakayas and restaurants that only the locals know.

But to be honest, if you’re a tourist or short term resident of Tōkyō, I’d rather not send you to Roppongi. It’s our Mos Eisley Space Port. But I can’t deny that it is very foreigner-friendly. There’s a Hard Cock Café and shop staff at stores and restaurants can usually speak English. Just be careful of people trying to lure you into shady establishments. I don’t disapprove of drinking and whoring at all. I just think there’s a risk of getting ripped off or straight shaken down in Roppongi – especially if you’re not fluent in the language and aware of the usual MO’s as compared to this area. Additionally, if you’re a tourist, go do something interesting that you can only do in Japan. Roppongi is the least Japanese place you can visit in Japan.

Roppongi,,,  lol


Oh, I almost forgot the name. There are quite a few theories about the origin of the word Roppongi[i]. As I mentioned, the name means “the 6 trees.” The most accept etymology is that “the 6 trees” is a reference to 6 daimyō (feudal lords) who maintained palaces in the area. These 6 feudal lords had kanji relating to trees in their family names. If you’re interested in the whole story, you should visit my main article about Roppongi below.

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[i] And in fact, there is actually another place name in Tōkyō, 五本木 Gohongi the 5 trees. You can see my article here.

Ōedo Line Extravaganza (intro)

In Japanese History, Travel in Japan on May 31, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Ōedo-sen (the Greater Edo Line)

Oedo Line Map

The 大江戸線 Ōedo-sen Ōedo Line’s full name is the 都営大江戸線 Toei Ōedo-sen Toei Ōedo Line. 都営 Toei means “operated by the Tōkyō Metropolitan Government.” Most official signage includes the full name. It’s one of the deepest subways in the world.


Tōkyō’s famous loop train, the 山手線 Yamanote-sen Yamanote Line circles the city limits of 江戸 Edo – more or less[i]. Likewise, the Ōedo Line forms an incomplete loop around the old city but also includes areas that were well outside the city limits of Edo, including Shinjuku[ii], Nakano[iii], and Nerima[iv]. One of the original names proposed for this train line was the 都庁線 Tochō-sen which roughly translates to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Line. The reason was because the train line starts at the 東京都庁舎 Tōkyō-to Chōsha Tōkyō Metropolitan Government Building in 西新宿 Nishi-Shinjuku West Shinjuku. But because the line was mostly within the confines of historical Edo but also hit some peripheral areas closely connected to the old city, the word 大江戸 Ōedo was thrown out as a suggestion. Ōedo means “the greater Edo area.” This term includes the proximity, cultural ties, and economic ties of the villages that sat on the outskirts of the city on the major highways[v]. 内藤新宿 Naitō-Shinjuku (the old name of Shinjuku) was located outside of the city limits but was home to a major highway, the 甲州街道 Kōshū Kaidō Kōshū Highway, and a less famous highway, the 青梅街道 Ōme Kaidō Ōme Highway. In the end, the name 大江戸線 Ōedo-sen “Great Edo Line” was chosen[vi]. The train opened for service in 平成12年12月12日 Heisei jūninen jūnigatsu jūninichi 12/12 of the 12th year of Heisei. To the Japanese, this date could be read as 12/12/12. The rest of the world reads it as 12/12/2000.


Before this writing, I was under the impression that the Ōedo Line was just a normal subway train. After all, it looks like, sounds like, and feels like all the other subways I’ve ridden in Tōkyō. But it turns out that that the Ōedo Line was Tōkyō’s first linear motor car. Previously, I’d thought “linear motor car” and “maglev train” were synonymous – in Japanese I always hear maglev trains described as linear motor cars. But apparently, they are not synonymous. While both use linear motor propulsion, the new SCMaglev being tested in 山梨県 Yamanashi-ken Yamanashi Prefecture has no wheels, but the Ōedo Line has wheels like a normal train. I’m not an engineer, so that’s about as far as I can talk about the whole “linear motor car” thing.

So, assuming that the Ōedo Line covers the Greater Edo Area, I thought it might be fun to hit every station on the line and see if we can take a tour of Edo-Tōkyō. I’ll try to give a really quick etymology of each station name or area name. After that, I’ll give a quick description of the area’s historical significance and sightseeing (if any). I haven’t done any research, as each station comes up, it should be a bit of an adventure for me too.

I’ve written the entire article. Every freaking station on the Ōedo Line. Not sure why I thought this was a good idea as a single article.

So I’ve decided that, as one article this is boring as fuck. Therefore, I’m going to chop this up into little pieces. Let’s enjoy the Ōedo Line station by station, day by day.


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[i] It doesn’t follow the exact borders, but it does hit many 山手 yamanote high city areas characterized by samurai residences and daimyō residences.
[ii] Here’s my article on Shinjuku.
[iii] Here’s my article on Nakano.
[iv] Here’s my article on Nerima.
[v] Read my article about the 5 Great Highways of Edo.
[vi] Some other names were bantered about, including the unwieldy都営地下鉄12号線 Toei Chikatetsu Jūnigō-sen Toei Subway Line #12 and東京環状線 Tōkyō Kanjō-sen Tōkyō Loop Line.

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