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Japanese History

What does Ginza mean?

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

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Japanese History

Yamanote Line: Yūraku-chō and Shinbashi

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

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Japanese History

What does Shiogama mean?

In the spring, I happened upon a shrine that was almost in ruins. I finally got around to researching and it found it the shrine has a fascinating history!

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Japanese History

Ōedo Line: Shiodome

Continuing with our 17th installment of exploring Edo-Tōkyō via the Ōedo Line.

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Japanese History

What does Uchisaiwaichō mean?

内幸町Uchisaiwai-chō (Inner Happy Town; as in the inner part of Happy Town, not inner happiness) Quick Etymology Uchisaiwachō derives from Edo Castle’s 幸橋 Saiwai-bashi Saiwai Bridge, which was protected by a fortified gate. 内 uchi means inside. Therefore, Uchisaiwai-chō means “town inside Saiwai Gate.” The meaning was lost when the gate and bridge were torn […]

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Japanese History Travel in Japan

Why is Roppongi called Roppongi

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. But in the Edo Period, this was home to sprawling mansions of the elite ruling class. Many of the street blocks still correspond to the locations of these residences.

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Japanese History

What does Yurakucho mean?

Formerly part of the outer enclosure of Edo Castle and now a shopping district next to Ginza, Yurakucho is strange name with an elusive past.

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Japanese History

Why is Shiodome called Shiodome?

What do you get when you mix a monorail with skyscapers, a stunning view of the bay, an old train station and edo period gardens? Shiodome! Let’s find out about the mysterious origins of the place name and dramatic history of the area.

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Japanese History

Why is Shinbashi called Shinbashi?

Shinbashi means “new bridge” but is that all there is to the story? Shibashi Station is one of the oldest and most important train stations in Japanese History.