Japanese Place Names

I've researched place name origins in the UK and translated into Japanese according to my interests, mainly the places where I visited. Since I stayed in Tokyo for a several months, I decided to research the place name origins in Japan and translate into English as well. *City/town/village, Prefectures and Alphabetical order. **Area sizes have changed due to the Acts on Indication of Residential Address and so on. Excluded peregrinational details here because of complexity, Especially in Tokyo. ***Japanese Key word;  Ieyasu Tokugawa (Edo shogunate), Machi (town)
It's an up-to-the update. Translated by @I-ADNES



Sendai, Miyagi; When the first daimyo of Sendai Domain, Masamune Date built the castle, he changed the Chinese character of 'Sendai' wishing probably 'the land would be like a enchanted land Sennin/hsien lives'. 'Sen' means hsien and 'Dai' means mounting.

Kakunodate, Akita; Kakunodate is a former castle town. 'Kaku' means corner and 'date/tate' means a mansion or a castle. It is said that was because the castle was built on the corner of the Hinokinai river and the Innai river.

Morioka, Iwate; The domain lord Nambu named 'Morioka' wishing successful and prosperous place. 'Mori' means raise, prosperity and success, and 'oka' means hill and upland.

Tono, Iwate; It is said 'Tono' come from Ainu word.


Tokyo; Tokyo means 'Eastern Capital' (formerly known as Edo), because it's located in East of the old capital of Kyoto. Edo became the capital, after the Emperor moved his seat to Edo from Kyoto in 1868, and Edo was renamed Tokyo. 
  • Chiyoda* (District); Chiyoda came from the name of Edo castle, because it was also called Chiyoda castle. Chiyoda means 'eternal field', 'chiyo' means eternity, and 'da' means land/ field/ plowland. This district was created to merge with Kojimachi-district and kanda-district in 1947.
  • Iidabashi; Soon after Ieyasu Tokugawa came to Edo, he made an inspection of the area. A man, named Kihe, Iida acted kindly and politely as guide to that area. Later he became a town headman and that area became old samurai residences, and was called Iidamachi. Then, the town was renamed Iidabashi after the bridge which was built a bridge across the moat around the Edo castle in 1881. 'Machi' means a town and 'bashi/hashi' means a bredge.
  • Kagurazaka; Kagura means shinto music and dance, and -zaka/saka means slope. Literally there are sloped roads. It is said that the shinto music was played at a shirine's traditional festival and it could be heard in the sloped road. Or a portable shrine in a festival couldn't carried up the hill because it's too steep, but could had done easily with the shinto music.
  • Kanda; Kanda means 'rice field where produce rice for offering to the god'. Mitashiro has the same meaning .
  • Kanda tsukasa; Many merchants and craftsmen lived around here. This area consisted of small towns such as Saekicho, Sinsiroganecho, kijicho, Sekiguchicho, etc... After the first town redemarcation project, they merged into 'Tsukasamachi'. A chief priest of Kanda shrine named 'Tsukasamachi' using a fortunate Kanji Character meaning enshrine.
  • Kanda Jinbocho (1 cho-me area); Here used to be called 'Hitotsumedori-ogawamachi' and east side 'Omote-sarugakucho'. 'Sarugaku' means old name of Noh play. Because the Edo Shogun's official Noh players' houses located around here. This area became to be called 'Sarugakucho' once, but the name changed into 'Jinbocho' due to a town redemarcation project after the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923). This is named after a shogunal vassal Nagaharu, Jinbou who lived here in Edo period.
  • Kojimachi; It was a market town during the Edo Shogunate. Koji means Jiuqu, dried fermentation starter, used in the production of traditional alcoholic goods, miso, soy sauce etc.
  • Marunouchi; This area was used to be located between the inner moat and outer moat, and there were daimyo's mansions. Marunouchi means 'inside enclosed by moat'.
  • Yurakucho; The name of 'Yurakucho' is derived from the name of warlord Odaurakusai, a brother of Oda Nobunaga. After the Battle of Sekigahara, he received a mansion by Tokugawa. That area was named 'Yurakucho' in the Meiji Era.
  • Kudan;
  • Yaesu; Yaesu derives it's name from Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn (or simply Jan Joosten; c.1560-1623), a native of Delft and one of the first Dutchmen in Japan in 1600. His Japanese name was 'Yayōsu'. It changed into Yaesu with changing of the times.
  • Kyobashi; Literal meaning is a 'capital bridge'. From Nihonbashi, the starting point of Tōkaidō(East Sea Route)to old capital Kyoto, there was the first bridge here you needed to cross.
  • Ginza; Ginza means a silver coin mint. The mint moved from SumpuShizuoka to current Ginza (2 cyo-me area) in 1612. Then, it was popularly called Ginza.
  • Irifune, Chuo District; It used to be called Irifune-cho. Iri means entre and fune means ship. There was the Irifune river on the west side of the town. By the 1971 Act on Indication of Residential Address, it changed into Irifune
  • Minato, Chuo District; It used to be called Minato-cho. Minato means port. In Edo period, it was a port town. Merchant ships came through the Sumida River and loading and unloading was held at this port.
  • Tsukiji, Chuo District; meaning 'reclaimed land'. It was once lowland marshes along the smida River delta.
  • Hachobori; The name is derived from old measurement of channel. There is a channel which was created between 1624 and 1643, and the length was Hacho (approx. 872m). Bori/hori means moat or channel.
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