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What was Edo like before Edo Period?

公開日: : 最終更新日:2014/03/07 About Tokyo, English , , , , , , , , , ,

Edo became the capital of Japan when Tokugawa Ieyasu succeeded to rule whole Japan as Shogun by having won in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1603.

Many of you may think that Edo castle was built at that moment.  However, it was not so.  The first Bushi who owned the Edo castle was Edo Shigetsugu.  Edo clan used to live and rule the area from the end of Heian period to the beginning of Kamakura period.  After the ruin of Edo clan in 15th century, Ōta Dōkan constructed a larger castle, which was the basis of Tokugawa’s.  Since there were both water and road routes to Kamakura, Edo was thought to be an important area to rule over the transportation.

However, the area around Edo was a morass, when Tokugawa Ieyasu received it from Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590 after Siege of Odawara (1590).  I’m sure he was not so happy to have left Sunpu Castle for Edo.

For us it is quite unbelievable that Edo was a morass.  Now I would like to imagine how Edo was like before Edo period.  Of course, there was no camera, satellites nor Google map so I was not able to find any photos at that time.  But I’ve found an interesting project called Earth Diver Map Bis. by the research group of Dr. Shinichi Nakazawa of Tama Art University and a researching team in Tokyo Metropolitan University.  This project started after Dr. Nakazawa’s book “Earth Diver” was published, in which he developed his theory that the circumstances in Jōmon period are still giving a great influence over present-day Japan.

Jōmon period is the time in Prehistoric Japan from about 12,000 BC and in some cases cited as early as 14,500 BC to about 300 BC, when Japan was inhabited by a hunter-gatherer culture which reached a considerable degree of sedentism and cultural complexity.  And at that time the sea level was higher than now.

This is the map of Edo area in Jōmon period, created in Earth Diver Project.

 

earthdivershrine

The area coloured in blue was wetland or under water and the area in yellow was sandbanks.

 

tokyo_jomon

Eastern part of Tokyo in Jomon period

 

OMG… The most part of present Tokyo used to be under water in Jomon area and it was like Venezia in Italy!!

 

So, the first work that Ieyasu started was the land improvement.  He made the wetland dug in order to construct rivers or canals which could let the water flow into the sea or reclaimed to make the field. Thanks to Ieyasu’s great job, Edo became a livable place.  In another word, without a Hideyoshi’s malicious treatment of Ieyasu, there would be no skyscrapers in Tokyo.

Those who want to see the traces of great Tokugawa family’s works ought go to Toshogu in Nikkō, Tochigi, where he was enshrined as Kami after his death.
にほんブログ村 歴史ブログ 日本の伝統・文化へ
にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英語の日記(和英併記)へ

 

800px-JP-Nikko-Tosho-Gu-Yomeimon

Photo of Toshogu
imported from Wikivoyage Shared.

 

Works of Dr. Shinichi Nakazawa

アースダイバー
中沢新一
大阪アースダイバー
中沢新一
悪党的思考
中沢新一
日本のもと 神さま
中沢新一
日本の文脈
内田樹/中沢新一|
角川書店|送料無料
三万年の死の教え
チベット『死者の書』の世界
中沢新一
仏教が好き!
河合隼雄/中沢新一
哲学の自然
中沢新一/國分功一郎
古代から来た未来人 
折口信夫
ちくまプリマー新書
中沢新一

 

 

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