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Why is Kyōbashi called Kyōbashi?

In Japanese History on April 19, 2013 at 1:04 am

京橋
Kyōbashi (Capital Bridge)

What does Kyobashi mean?

The area surrounding Kyobashi Station is in yellow. Note the other major areas, Ginza, Hatchobori, Nihonbashi, and Takaracho. Also note Tokyo Station.

OK, I still haven’t written about the 五街道 Go-kaidō the 5 Highways or Nihonbashi yet, so bear with me.
Oh… I haven’t written about the capital of Japan yet, so bear with me.
Dammit! I haven’t written about 参勤交代 sankin-kōtai (mandatory service to the shōgun) yet! I’m sorry.
Please, please, please, bear with me.

WHEN SORRY ISN'T ENOUGH

I promise to write the rest of the entrees that are necessary soon. After I commit seppuku.

In the Edo Period, there were 5 main roads that connected the domains with the capital in Edo. When Ieyasu began developing Edo as his new capital, he had to connect the city to the rest of Japan. At first, the most important city to connect with Edo was Kyōto because the 朝廷 chōtei Imperial Court was there.

Long story short, the road that connected Tōkyō and Kyōto was called the Tōkaidō. The Tōkaidō began at Nihonbashi (The Bridge to Japan). You’d start in the commercial district and then cross a bridge and head out of the city. As more roads were built to facilitate 参勤交代 sankin-kōtai alternate attendance duty and other travel needs they all had their starting point/termination at Nihonbashi. Edo, being a castle town, was arranged in small neighborhoods and deliberately without a grid (for protection). In the early days of the shōganate, getting out of the city might prove difficult or at least a waste of time if you got lost. So once you crossed Nihonbashi, you passed through 江戸町 Edo no machi, a merchant district, headed south on a road towards 京橋 Kyōbashi.  Once you passed this bridge, you knew you were pointed in the right direction.

Kyobashi in the Edo Period. Sometimes I can't believe that such a beautiful view is what Tokyo is today. The shogun's capital was without a doubt, one of the finest cities in the world.

Kyobashi in the Edo Period. Sometimes I can’t believe that such a beautiful view is what Tokyo is today. The shogun’s capital was without a doubt, one of the finest cities in the world.

Wait a minute. You said 京橋 means “Capital Bridge.”
So why is this bridge taking us out of the capital???

京都 Kyōto means “The Capital, biaaatch.” And in the old days the city was generally just referred to as 京 Kyō “the capital.” In reality, the capital was officially wherever the emperor lived – an argument can still be made for this denomination even today.

Of course, in the Edo Period, the shōgun lived in Tōkyō. It was the de facto capital and by the middle of the Edo Period there was hardly any pretense in calling Kyōto the capital. But that was the name of the city. So Kyōbashi actually had two nuances. If you were leaving, it was the bridge to imperial capital and if you were coming, it was the bridge to the shōganal capital (scil; Edo).

The original Kyōbashi spanned the 京橋川 Kyōbashigawa Kyōbashi River. To the west was Edo Castle, in particular the so-called 大名小路 daimyō kōji daimyō alley (present day Marunouchi). To the east was Takarachō and Hatchōbori.

Kyobashi in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. Total destruction, but the bridge survived and served the city well.

Kyobashi in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake. Total destruction, but the bridge survived and served the city well.

This picture is also after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The destruction doesn't seem as bad as the former picture. It was taken in the same year as the disaster, but since things seem a little more back to normal, I'm going to guess that this is later that year -- or straight up mislabeled -- but definitely the city seems on its way to recovery.

This picture is also after the Great Kanto Earthquake. The destruction doesn’t seem as bad as the former picture. It was taken in the same year as the disaster, but since things seem a little more back to normal, I’m going to guess that this is later that year — or straight up mislabeled — but definitely the city seems on its way to recovery.

Today, if you walk down from the starting point of the Tōkaidō in Nihonbashi to Kyōbashi station and walk all the way to the expressway, you’ve followed – more or less – the old Tōkaidō road.

In the 1870’s, a stone bridge was built. In 1922, a second wider bridge was built. It withstood the Great Kantō Earthquake like a champ and stayed there until a decade or so after WWII. In 1959 the river was filled in and the bridge disappeared. If you go to the location of the former bridge, you can view the course of the river roughly by following the 東京高速道路 Tōkyō Kōsoku Dōro Tōkyō Expressway from the Marunouchi Exit to the Kyōbashi Exit – easily done on foot. The original bridge stood in 京橋3丁目 Kyōbashi sanchōme near Kyōbashi Station.

One of the original bridge markers from the 1875 Meiji Period bridge remains as a memorial.

One of the original bridge markers from the 1875 Meiji Period bridge remains as a memorial.

A single bridge marker from the Taisho Era bridge remains. The Taisho Era bridge survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII. It's final demise came with the filling in of the river in the 1950's.

A single bridge marker from the Taisho Era bridge remains. The Taisho Era bridge survived the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII. It’s final demise came with the filling in of the river in the 1950’s. That’s a bad ass stone bridge. Bad Ass!!!

What does Ebisu mean?

In Japanese History on March 24, 2013 at 11:17 pm

恵比寿
Ebisu (Ebisu)

Ebisu is a trendy area in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

If you love beer like I do, then even if you’ve never been to Japan, you’ve probably heard of this excellent brew.

Japan's most famous deity, Ebisu!

Japan’s most famous deity, Ebisu!

Ebisu is the name of an indigenous Japanese deity. He’s easy to recognize because he’s usually depicted as a fat dude sitting down with a fish on his fishing pole and a big dopey smile across his face. He’s a symbol of prosperity and good luck. He’s also one of the 七福神 shichi fukujin (7 gods of good luck), so if you feel like taking a walk around the new year’s holiday, you can visit one of many local pilgrimages dedicated to these 7 popular gods.

The old Yebisu Train Station with the Brewery in the background.

The old Yebisu Train Station with the Brewery in the background.

Anyhoo… why is this area called Ebisu?

Well, the Japan Beer Company introduced its Yebisu beer brand in 1887. In 1889, they built an Yebisu factory in the area. In 1901, a train line and bus line developed to help with distribution and in bringing workers to and from the factory. The name of the station was 恵比寿停車場 Ebisu Teishajō (Yebisu Depot). Because of the public transportation (and one would assume the availability of massive amounts of beer), the area quickly urbanized. The station and area around the beer factory was called Ebisu by the local people and in 1928 the area was officially named Ebisu.

If you’re interested in visiting the beer factory, I’m sad to say you can’t!!!

Ebisu Garden Place today

Ebisu Garden Place today

The reason you can’t visit is that the Yebisu Brewery was moved to Chiba in 1988 and the property was reclaimed by developers who built the current shopping area, Ebisu Garden Place. Japan Beer Company is now Sapporo Brewery, which still has their headquarters in Ebisu Garden Place. There is also a Museum of Yebisu Beer, which I’ve never been too. But one of these days, I need to get my ass in there.

Let's drink Yebisu in Ebisu!

A buttload of Yebisu!

You might be asking yourself, “what’s up with the spelling?” Is it Ebisu or Yebisu?

If you’re interested, you should read part 2!

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安全な国=最高じゃん!!

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2009 at 10:34 am

I wasn’t going to write anything today. But something happened that got me thinking.

Last week (it was Christmas Eve, actually), my girlfriend and I went to Shinagawa to meet a friend for rāmen and show him some of the local shrines in the area. When we got off the train, my girlfriend realized that she had dropped her 定期 (teiki; monthly commuter pass). We reported to the JR Station Master and they took her name and address. A day later we got a postcard saying “We found your commuter pass, come to Shinjuku Station and pick it up.” Pretty sweet, huh?

A few years back, I dropped my cellphone on the Keihin-Tōhoku line. I had it back in my position within in 10 hours.

In any other country I have experience with, you’d never see these things again. The phone would have been used for all sorts of long distance calls, the train pass would have been abused too. There are a lot of reason that I love life in Japan. But things like this really make it you appreciate this country.

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awwwwwwww yeah!
mαrky( -_-)凸

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