What does Yotsuya 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?

What does Ushigome 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?

Samurai Archives Podcast (part 1)

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)

What does Akabane 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 Grave of Tokugawa Yoshinobu

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

Tokugaa Ieyoshi

Shintoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Ieyoshi

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

Yutoku-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Yoshimune

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

Joken-in・the Grave of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi

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