Continuing with our 17th installment of exploring Edo-Tōkyō via the Ōedo Line. Continue reading Ōedo Line: Shiodome
The story of the Kanda River is a story as old as Edo itself. It is part and parcel of the evolution of the city. Continue reading The Kanda River
Sometimes called the biggest river in Japan, though it’s actually not, this unruly river unites much of the Kanto area.
Continue reading The Tone River
Today’s topic was a reader request. But to be honest, I’ve been wanting to write about this place for a while. Continue reading What does Sendagaya mean?
Today we’re going to wrap up our little journey around 文京区 Bunkyō-ku Bunkyō Ward which has taken us to Myōgadani, Koishikawa, and finally Hakusan. Continue reading What does Hakusan mean?
This may be the closest you get to experiencing a real daimyo garden in Edo. Continue reading What does Koishikawa mean?
Today, the area called Ohanajaya refers to three blocks in Katsushika Ward, but in the Edo Period, this was the countryside and was used for falconry by the Tokugawaw shōguns. Continue reading What does Ohanajaya mean?
Most people seem to think the name Yotsuya is old. Old as in it pre-dates the Edo Period. But one thing that is consistent in most of the etymologies is the first kanji, 四 yottsu four. Much of the mystery of this place name seems to come from the final character. That said, the “number 4” character is also suspect. So let’s be skeptical, shall we? Continue reading What does Yotsuya mean?
Asakusa – one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Japan. Continue reading What does Asakusa mean?
牛込 Ushigome (Crowd of Cows) 。 。 牛 ushi cow 込 komi[i] swarming, huddling, amassed, crowded, “in bulk” 。 According to Japanese Wikipedia[ii], in 701, in accordance to the Taihō Code, a livestock ranch was established in this area. In fact, two were established which were sometimes referred to as 牛牧 gyūmaki a cow ranch and 馬牧 umamaki a horse ranch. These two locations came to be referred to as 牛込 Ushigome and 駒込 Komagome. The fact that there was a cattle/dairy ranch here in the Asuka Period is a known fact (it’s documented). The horse ranch is a different … Continue reading What does Ushigome mean?
A rich guy, a castle and a nature preserve walk into a bar… Continue reading What does Shirokane mean?
Went a little long on this on… sorry about that. But I love Tokyo. I wanted to explore the forgotten side… Continue reading What does Edo mean?
What do a 200 year old whiskey and monkey powered jet packs have to do with each other? Nothing!
Today will dig a little deeper into the seemingly related Meguro and Mejiro. All I can tell you now is that it doesn’t end well. Continue reading What does Mejiro mean?
In the Edo Period, Senju was a hub to some of the most prestigious destinations of the Era. It was a launch pad for many travelers in the realm, but it was a particularly special hub for the Shogun Family. Continue reading What does Senju mean?
So……… yeah. Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter may have seen my giddy posts about doing a podcast with some of the guys from Samurai Archives. I finally got to do it and although I was super nervous to talk with them, it actually was the most normal and natural thing ever. Three dudes geeking out on Japanese History. It was awesome. In the music business, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most inspiring people ever. Now, JapanThis has taken me into a totally other world, in which I am honored to … Continue reading Samurai Archives Podcast (part 1)
Today we’ll learn about a shitamachi place name that has disappeared. We’ll also learn how it’s important to pay attention to what reading of kanji is being used. Continue reading What does Iidabashi mean?
Inokashira Park is Kichijoji’s famous park. But did you know that big lake was the source of drinking water for a million people in Edo? Continue reading What does Inokashira mean?
I’ve been writing about Tokyo places names for half a year now and I don’t know why I haven’t written about this one. This was the first origin story I ever heard. Now I’ll share it with you. Continue reading What does Mitaka mean?
The history of today’s place name is going to take us on a long journey across the country to Kyoto and back in time to the Ashikaga Shogunate (and in reality back to the Kamakura and Heian Periods). Plot twists abound. Strap yourselves in and get ready to feel the G’s, baby. Continue reading What does Muromachi mean?
Have you ever seen the old American TV series “Shogun?”
Or have you ever imagined what it would be like if you, a foreigner, were a samurai in feudal Japan? Continue reading What does Anjin-cho mean?
赤羽Akabane (Red Wings; but more at Red Clay) Today’s place name etymology is a pretty interesting one because we will get a sneak peak at the extinct pre-Edo Period dialect of the area. Akabane sits in the northern part of Kita Ward. It’s basically next to Kawakuchi, Saitama. So it’s on the literal outskirts of Tōkyō. Mind you, you won’t see any difference leaving Tōkyō and entering Saitama due to the thorough urban sprawl. Historically speaking, 赤羽村 Akabane Mura Akabane Village wasn’t a particularly important place, but in the Kamakura Period a highway called 岩槻街道 Iwatsuki Kaidō was built. The … Continue reading What does Akabane mean?
The shogunate is finished… that’s not sad to me. The sad thing is closing out this chapter on a subject that is so personal to me. I also love Yoshinobu because after a hundred years of 微妙 shoguns, we got a guy who represented his era and his pedigree exceptionally. Until the bitter end, Yoshinobu was an aristocrat, but in a time of crisis he took the challenge and helped to save the shogun family line persist until the present day. Continue reading The Grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu
We’re at the twilight of Tokugawa power in Japan – the 14th shogun, Tokugawa Iemochi. Continue reading Shomyo-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Iemochi
Tokugawa Ieyoshi was a pretty much a brown paper bag shogun. There is nothing notable about his rule… until the last year. In the last year, Commodore Perry arrived in Japan with his “Black Ships” and demanded that Japan end its isolationist policy. That’s when the shit hit the proverbial fan. Continue reading Shintoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieyoshi
Tokugawa Ienari is my favorite shogun. Dude as a straight up player. Watch and learn, children. Continue reading Bunkyo-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ienari
Tokugawa Ieharu, the lovable but forgettable 10th shogun. Continue reading Shunmei-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieharu
Today we’ll look at the grave of the 9th shogun, Tokugawa Ieshige — which is basically the grave of the 7th shogun, Ietsugu. Continue reading Junshin-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieshige
Tokugawa Yoshimune is considered one of the greatest shoguns of Edo Bakufu. He initiated financial reforms that most likely made writing the rest of this series on Tokugawa shogun graves infinitely easier. Just as they re-used existing sites, I can re-use existing blogs. Awwwww yeah. Continue reading Yutoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Yoshimune
We’ve come to the 7th shogun. His funerary temple was one of the architectural gems of Edo-Tokyo. Sadly, it was the last of these fine structures. From here on out we will only have group enshrinements. It’s the end of an era. Continue reading Yusho-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ietsugu
Last time, I wrote about the 4th shogun, Tokugawa Ietsuna. Today let’s look at the grave of his younger brother, the much more famous Tokugawa Tsunayoshi – the so-called Dog Shogun. If you’ve been to Ueno Park, you may have seen the gate to his tomb. It’s much better preserved that Ietsuna’s and a little more centrally located… kinda. Continue reading Joken-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi