Ever wondered how Japanese places got their names? In his blog “JAPAN THIS!“, Marky Star shares some wonderfully brief, witty, well-researched, and picture-filled posts on why Tokyo neighborhoods like Ochanomizu, Shibuya, and Nogizaka are called what they are. This is local history at its best, bringing alive the colorful and layered history of these nooks and crannies of the city.
Here’s just a sample of Star’s snarky and fascinatingly informative posts:
Shinbashi Station (formerly Karasumori Station), as seen in a Meiji era postcard.
Today, I’m a little busy so I chose an easy place name.
Or so I thought. As usual, the history of even the simplest place name turns out to be rich in history. FML
Anyhoo, the name is straight forward. It’s the new bridge, as opposed to the old bridge – presumably any older bridge in the area. Also known as the 芝口橋 Shibaguchibashi (Shibaguchi Bridge), the “New Bridge” was first erected across the 汐留川 Shiodomegawa Shiodome River in 1604. This would place Shinbashi among the earliest of major urban projects in the development of Edo as the capital city of the Tokugawa (and within the lifetimes of the first 2 Tokugawa shoguns).*
In the Edo period, the name Shinbashi was applied to the whole area right up to the border of Tsukiji, which is quite north of what is now called Shinbashi. The area was covered with daimyô residences all the way from 丸之内 Marunouchi (Edo Castle grounds) and 京橋 Kyōbashi right up to present Shiba Park. (This area was called 大名小路 Daimyō Kōji Daimyō Alley, an area I will come back in a future post).
For the rest of the story on Shinbashi, and a whole bunch of other places in Tokyo, check out JAPAN THIS!