idioma® Tokyo Office

Nov 23, 2022

Geographic History

Our Tokyo office is currently in Kanda(神田) Nishiki-cho(錦町). It is close to the Nihon-bashi River near Jimbocho. During the Edo period, many samurai’s residences were in the area, and the Ishiki(一色) a Hatamoto(旗本)high-ranking samurai lived there.

Ishiki Family Emblem

The Ishiki family had two residences in the neighborhood and the area later became known as “Nishiki”(二色). As you would count One (Ichi(一)), Two (Ni(二)), Three (San(三)) in Japanese, “Nishiki” represented the Ishiki family residences. Today the name is Nishiki(錦) which was derived from Nishiki(二色)having the same pronunciation with the meaning being different.

Yoshimune Tokugawa (8th Shogun of Tokugawa Shogunate)

Nishiki was famous for the Goji-in temple which faced the outer moat of the Edo Castle. In 1717, the temple was destroyed by fire without a single structure left. Yoshimune Tokugawa (great-grandson of Ieyasu Tokugawa) did not allow reconstruction of the temple and the site became Goji-in-gahara (a fire extinguishing ground).

Choensai Eishin “Falconer”

This vast vacant lot was kept as a fire preventative ground to prevent future fires from spreading to the Edo Castle. It also became a famous falconry ground for the shogun, then later became a park open to the public.

First University in Japan

The birthplace of the University of Tokyo

At the beginning of the Meiji Restoration Kanda Nishiki changed from open land to the center of education. The Goji-in-gahara (a fire extinguishing ground) became the birthplace of the first Japanese universities. The University of Tokyo, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Gakushuin University, and Hitotsubashi University were established.

Local used bookstore “Wonder” in Jinbocho

Kanda Nishki became the academic epicenter and as a result, many bookstores opened in the vicinity. This was the birth of the Jimbocho bookstore district, which is one of the biggest book districts in the world. There are up to 200 bookstores within a 15-minute walk radius. Books of any subject can be found not only in Japanese but in many languages such as English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian.

The Birthplace of Japanese Baseball

The birthplace of Japanese baseball

While Kanda Nishiki flourished as the epicenter of education during the Meiji Restoration a new sport was being introduced to the Japanese people. Horace Wilson an American veteran of the U.S. Civil War is given credit for bringing baseball to Japan. Wilson was born in Gorham, Maine. A native of Maine, he volunteered to serve in the Union army during the Civil War and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with Company I of the 12th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment against the Confederates in Louisiana.

Horace Wilson (1834-1927)

After the Civil War, he was hired by the Japanese government as a foreign adviser to assist in the modernization of the Japanese education system during the Meiji Restoration. He became an English professor at Kaisei Gakko(later to become the University of Tokyo). Wilson decided his students needed more physical exercise and introduced them to baseball. Not knowing he would become the father of Japanese baseball.

Kaisei Gakko (1873)

Wilson returned to the United States in 1877 and lived in San Francisco. He died in 1927 at age 84. Wilson was posthumously inducted in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame by the special committee in 2003. The full story of Horace’s family and their adventure to Japan is here.

40+ Years of Translation Service

idioma® Tokyo office is only a few minutes away from Jinbocho station.

If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by for a coffee break!

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