5 Things About Tokyo You May Not Know

Learn 5 interesting facts about Tokyo Japan5 Interesting Facts about Tokyo

I did a little digging today to learn something about Tokyo I was unaware of. Here are a few things I took out of today’s research about the mighty Eastern Capital!


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1. Tokyo use to be Called Edo

It started as a small fishing village, first migrated to and settled in 3,000 BC.

Edo continued to grow in Japanese society because of it’s role as the main center of power for the Tokugawa shogunate, which happened to rule the country for around 250 years until 1868. This area was called the Edo period while it went through great change in cultural and economic growth.  By 1720 Edo had more then 1 million people living in it. Thus, making it one of the larger cities in the world. Edo changed to Tokyo (which means Eastern Capital) around 1868 when the shogunate period came to a hault and a new emperor, Meiji moved in to Tokyo.

But it’s interesting to note that it’s not officially ever been noted to be the ‘ACTUAL’ capital of Japan. Kyoto has been said to be more of the official capital of Japan over the years.

Tokyo Skyline - Population More then Any Other city2. Tokyo Houses More People Than any Other Area Like it in the World!

Tokyo houses around 35 million people inside it’s grasp. More then 13 million reside inside the city center. The city spreads out for more then 5,000 square miles and has been divided into smaller self governing sections over the years. Which include 23 ‘special wards’ that create the inner core of Tokyo, 36 smaller cities, towns and villages and a line of far off islands.

But interesting to note with all the area Tokyo has and being one of the most densely populated cities around, you’ll find it interesting that more then 1/3rd of the bigger metropolitan area has been designated as parkland under the protection of the Japanese political structure.

Emperor and Japanese Monarchy3. Tokyo is Home to the Oldest Monarchy EVER.

The Japanese Monarchy dates from around 660 BC. The imperial house of Japan has homed over ‘One Hundred Twenty Five!’ monarchs. They’ve been placed on what is called and known as the Chrysanthemum Throne.  In 2005 a panel recommended removing the laws restricting monarchy to just men. Obviously nothing since then has happened.  The current emperor of Japan is Akihito and he stepped into the throne in 1989.

Fun fact about Japanese Emperor’s. They are never allowed to eat Fugu fish!

Debris in Tokyo after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake4. The Earthquake that Destroyed Tokyo

On September 1st 1923 a monster of an Earth Quake hit Tokyo, hitting 8.4 on the Richter scale, it hit around 30 miles south of Tokyo and unleashed a gigantic burst of terror that damaged both Tokyo and Yokohama. This was called the ‘Great Kanto Earthquake’, it destroyed nearly 50% of Tokyo and killed more then 135,000 people.

Which single handedly makes it the most deadliest natural disaster in Japans history at that time, and it’s second only to the Tohoku earthquake hit back in March 11th 2011. Interesting fact to take to mind about the Tohoku earthquake is that afterwards more then 5,000 Koreans were murdered as the Japanese ‘heard’ rumors about Koreans looting (which were never truly verified). It’s thought they also killed them because of the still touchy 1910 annexation of Korea. Either way, it still shows that things that happened over 100 years ago can still affect peoples attitudes when there is great stress and trauma.

Over all I witnessed more working together then ever before. But it is interesting that, that would still happen.

The Japanese Metro Transit System in Tokyo5. The Bustling Metro System in Tokyo

Tokyo first opened their metro system back in 1927. The mass transit system of Tokyo is the busiest bar none then any city in the world. 9 million commuters traverse this transit system daily and 3 billion annually.  Interesting fact, there are employees called oshiya (“pushers”) whose jobs are to actually push more people into the train cars.

Sardines anyone?

There are some really great Japanese shows and movies that have a lot of great historical facts inside them be sure to check out the ever growing recommendations.

-Nathan Scheer

Muzukashii Murasaki – Japanese Breakdown

The Most Difficult Purple

Today I was playing around with these two words with Sasha (my wife). At times I at least have a total brain fart when it comes to these two words. Muzukashii and Murasaki. The first being ‘Difficult’ (Muzukashii むずかしい) and the second being purple (Murasaki むらさき).

So I thought I’d make a quick post about these two words in Japanese.

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Here’s a great break down for additional ways to use Muzukashii to remember it even better!

Different ways to say Muzukashii in Japanese Here are several different ways to use Muzukashii while speaking Japanese.

Muzukashii = is difficult

Muzukashiku nai = is not difficult

Muzukashikatta = was difficult

Muzukashiku nakatta = was not difficult

 

So there you have it murasaki ha muzukashiku nai!

If you are looking for a great free way to learn Japanese, I high suggest checking out NihongoMaster.com – spaced repetition for the win! Or you can check out several different free methods I suggest here.

February 3rd – Setsubun – Mamemaki

What is Setsubun Japan on the 3rd of FebruaryFebruary 3rd Japanese Holiday/Festival

Setsubun – Mamemaki – Ehomaki
and Bean Throwing Cleansing!

Oh what fun with a pocket full of roasted beans!

At the beginning of this month (February 2016) I randomly thought to check to if it was a Japanese holiday of sorts. Funny to find out, on the 3rd (when I checked) it was! Of course already a day late for me, over here in Colorado, USA. But I found that it’s considered to be the start of spring in Japan. I also found something interesting fun facts about it. For example, on this day it’s custom to eat an Ehomaki sushi roll which consists of several different ingredients, then you are suppose to take the Ehomaki roll and eat it in the direction of the ‘new year’ (whatever zodiac that maybe). It suppose to be for cleansing and good luck. But, over all I thought I’d copy a bit of wikipedia over as it explains Setsubun and Mamemaki. There is a bunch of interesting traditions with the throwing of beans.

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Check it out:

Setsubun

Also called     Bean-Throwing Festival, Bean-Throwing Ceremony
Observed by     Japanese people
Type     Religious, Cultural
Significance     Day before the beginning of spring
Date     February 3
Frequency     annual
Related to     Spring Festival (Harumatsuri)

Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. The name literally means “seasonal division”, but usually the term refers to the spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun (立春) celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the Spring Festival (春祭 haru matsuri?). In its association with the Lunar New Year, spring Setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year’s Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒き?) (literally “bean scattering”). Setsubun has its origins in tsuina (追儺?), a Chinese custom introduced to Japan in the eighth century.

Mamemaki

The custom of Mamemaki first appeared in the Muromachi period. It is usually performed by the toshiotoko (年男) of the household (the male who was born on the corresponding animal year on the Chinese zodiac), or else the male head of the household. Roasted soybeans (called “fortune beans” (福豆 fuku mame?)) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the people say “Demons out! Luck in!” (鬼は外! 福は内! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!?) and slam the door. This is still common practice in households but many people will attend a shrine or temple’s Spring festival where this is done. The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one’s life, and in some areas, one for each year of one’s life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.

The gestures of mamemaki look similar to the Western custom of throwing rice at newly married couples after a wedding.

Ehōmaki (in the picture above)

Ehōmaki (恵方巻, “lucky direction roll”) is a roll composed of 7 ingredients considered to be lucky. Ehōmaki are often eaten on setsubun in Japan. The typical ingredients include kanpyō, egg, eel, and shiitake mushrooms. Ehōmaki often include other ingredients too. People usually eat the ehōmaki while facing the direction considered to be auspicious that year.

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