Category Archive for: ‘Life in Edo’

Reading Tokyo’s History from Ukiyo-E prints

One of my favorite tools that I use on my Walks are ukiyo-e woodblock prints. They are also a passion – I love looking them, their style, bold colors, and atmosphere. I also love being able to walk in the very areas where these were first created and often being able to see the same vistas. In a city whose …

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O-Sen, Poster Girls, and the “Aidoru” phenomenon

For the past six or seven years here in Tokyo, if you flip on the TV, open a magazine, climb onto a train, walk down the street, or even use a vending machine, it is almost inevitable that you will encounter at least one member of the hugely popular aidoru (idol) group AKB 48. This group consists of far more …

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Cherry blossoms in Ueno: more than 380 years of history and revelry

  After a long, cold winter the sight of the first cherry blossoms are a welcome sign of spring in Tokyo. Soon after the petals open to the sunlight, hordes of people come to camp out under the blossoms and one soon learns that the old saying hana yori dango (lit. “dumplings rather than flowers” – Better fill a man’s …

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Yushima Tenmangu: Shrine for Tokyo’s Students, Pleasure Quarter for Edo

You wouldn’t know it from looking at it, but Yushima Tenmangu (commonly called Yushima Tenjin), a small temple famed for its plum trees and tucked away just a stone’s throw from Ueno Park, was once one of Edo’s liveliest religious and entertainment quarters. Time and weather had taken their toll on the Main Hall built in 1885, so it was …

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Virtual Edo 1: Take a stroll around Nihombashi!

Virtual Edo beckons!  Slip back in time via a short walk around one of Edo’s busiest neighborhoods: Nihombashi….  On the banks of the Nihombashi River, you will find Edo’s fish market, supplying the freshest catch to the Shogun and all of Edo’s residents. Enter Edo by clicking on this link: Nihombashi was also the starting point for the five Great …

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Center of the World, Edo-style: Nihombashi

“All roads lead to Rome”was an oft used phrase and for a long time it was quite accurate – ALL roads did in fact lead to Rome.  In Edo-era Japan, a similar situation existed in that all of the five Great Highways originated at Nihombashi and all distance was measured from this point. Built in 1603, Nihombashi was also home …

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