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E is for Edo

A Tokyo Alphabet

by Owen Montgomery

At the time when the Japanese Meiji Era started, known bread recipes in Japan were not yet suited to japanese tastes. Yet when Yasubei Kimura, a samurai who was fired, had to find a new job, he decided to work at Bun’eido, a bakery in GInza. The aspiring baker decided to try his own recipe, and crated Anpan, a sweet roll filled with red bean paste. 

When people tried his new dessert, they loved it. However, only a small group of people had discovered it. Suddenly, however, the Meiji emperor asked to try Anpan! Kimura decided to add a decoration to the Emperor’s anpan: a cherry blossom. The emperor very much enjoyed Kimura’s creation, causing anpan to become extremely popular. The bakery of Bun’eido was then known as Kimuraya, to show how much of a difference Kimura had made.


Created by a samurai

An Anpan’s a baked delight.

despite all of the fighting skills

This didn’t take much might


Bunkyo, one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo, has many famous buildings, parks and sites located inside it. Beautiful Nezu Shrine, Tokyo Dome, and one of the largest Asian studies libraries in the world, Toyo Bunko, are some examples of attractions in Bunkyo.

The city of Bunkyo is covered in colors and shapes. You can find an amusement park in the middle of city, beautiful white cherry blossoms peppering the sidewalks, and tall, oddly shaped buildings all around. Many tourists even go to Bunkyo for these things specifically.



The hidden gem of Nezu Shrine 

Is one of the oldest sites in the city.

Encompassed by pink azaleas

The whole site is wonderfully pretty

Cat cafes are popular in many countries, and for different reasons. Some cat cafes are just for fun, though many are started to deal with cat welfare issues. Many stray cats are injured on the street, so many cat cafes are made to raise awareness of this. Some allow you to adopt cats, some take care of the cats themselves. Either way, cat cafes are very helpful and stop many stray cats from getting injured or killed.

The first of 58 cat cafes in Tokyo was Cat’s Store and opened in 2005. It certainly started a trend. However, cat cafes have gotten much more popular and interesting since then in Tokyo. Sakuragaoka cafe in Shibuya even decided to bring a pair of goats into their cafe, to add a ‘wow factor.’


Enjoy a scone with a feline friend

And maybe a nice hot tea

And while you sit in a comfy chair

Cuddle up with a sweet siamese

C is for Cat Cafes

Tokyo Dome is a very popular stadium in Bunkyo. It has been where the openings of many seasons of baseball have taken place, including 2000, 2004, 2008 and 20012. Other sports, like horse riding, also take place inside Tokyo Dome.

Many famous singers have performed there many times as well. Mariah Carey, one of Tokyo Dome’s ‘regulars’ has performed there 9 times in total. Other singers, like Janet Jackson, performed there 8 times, and Madonna has performed there 7 times.


D is for Dome

With many a star and many a game

Tokyo Dome embodies fame

And while the baseball players take aim

Nothing there will ever be in vain

Edo was Tokyo’s original name. At the time Tokyo was called Edo, Kyoto was still the capital of Japan. Edo was a small fishing village by the water. The town had a small population early on, but by 1721, it had a population of 1,000,000 people. 

Edo Castle is still part of the city of Tokyo. It was built in 1457 by Ota Dokan. Living in it was Edo Shigetsugu, a warrior of the Edo clan. The city of Edo was built around the castle, run by the Edo clan, but later, Edo was taken over by the Late Hojo clan.


Tokyo’s old name
It used to be the same
As every other fishing village
But somehow got all the fame

E is for

The fusuma was a structure used mostly in the Higashiyama period. It was based off of Buddhist aesthetics and the idea of Wabi-sabi, or beauty in simplicity. Fusuma are made from rice paper, and are not thin enough to let light through, but feel as though they are. On fusuma are graphics of fans, leaves, cherry blossoms, trees, and geometric patterns. Modern fusuma have different functions than Shoji fusuma, and are put with room dividers, and straw mats.


Used in ancient Japanese rooms

This beautiful paper screen

Has patterns printed on 

In paint which makes it sheen

F is for Fusuma

The famous movie studio Studio Ghibli was founded on June 15, 1985, by Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata, and Yasuyoshi Tokuma. Its headquarters is in Koganei, in west Tokyo. Its movies are among the highest grossing anime films, Spirited Away being the second highest, Howl’s Moving Castle being third, and Ponyo being fourth. Studio Ghibli movies are also known to have great soundtracks, which are written by musician Joe Hisaishi. 


This famous movie studio

Has had many films succeed

And continuing to top the charts

Its progress will proceed

G is for Ghibli

Harajuku is a district in Shibuya, Tokyo, and is known for having an over the top and crazy fashion sense. Many fashion designers in Harajuku say they are inspired by western, or American culture and products. Originally, the Harajuku fashion designers referred to themselves as a tribe. 

Harajuku’s fashion is said to be an extreme version of other things, like movies and tv shows. Some just say it is real-life anime. Many call Harajuku the center of Japanese youth culture.


This town’s crazy fashion style 

Will make everybody smile

Starting many epic trends

Your visit there will be worthwhile

H is for Harajuku

The Imperial Palace is located in the west citadel of Edo Castle. While the rest of the castle is closed generally to the public, the Imperial Palace allows people to visit during certain hours and take tours. Because it is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan, it does have to have some restrictions.

 However, a place that is always open to the public are the outer gardens. The outer gardens of the Imperial Palace are considered a public park, allowing all to visit.


I is for Imperial Palace

The residence of the shogun

And home of the emperor

Its place in Edo’s castle 

Is really quite a wonder

Japan, an island located off Eastern Asia, has very varied climates. These are known as Hokkaido, The Sea of Japan, The Central Highland, The Seto Inland Sea, The Pacific Coast, and The Ryukyu Islands. The Pacific Coast includes major city and capital of Japan, Tokyo. It has a humid subtropical climate. Some of the other climates in these zones can go from drastic temperature changes every day to similar temperatures every day

Having limited power, the Emperor of Japan’s role is mostly ceremonial. The emperor is not considered part of any of the three branches of Japan’s government. These branches include: the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches. These branches, along with the emperor and the constitution make Japan’s government a constitutional monarchy.

J is for Japan

The tenth most populated country

Majorly influenced by art

Is home to many cities

But Tokyo is its heart

The Kanto Earthquake was a devastatingly drastic event, killing over 142,800 people. The Earthquake struck the Kanto Plain, with a max intensity of XI, and a magnitude of 7.9. The Earthquake was so powerful, that it moved, 60 kilometers from the epicenter, the 84 ton Great Buddha statue in Kamakura.

The Kanto Earthquake surprisingly caused many fires to break out in Japan. Something called a fire tornado actually caused 38,000 deaths. This many people were incarcerated, and most of it happened in one day only.


K is for Kanto Earthquake

This extremely devastating earthquake

Impacted the city’s progress

because of a slow recovery

Things just became a mess

Japan’s economy has gone through many high and low points. However, its Land Bubble stage was a confusing time. The economy of Japan in the 1980’s was said to impact quite positively the modernization process in Tokyo. Bigger Buildings were built, and the stock market index soared. However, with all the building going on, traffic was starting to build up around the streets of Tokyo. This was saids to be because at the time the city was not well monitored by public authorities.


L is for Land Bubble

L is for Land Bubble

Japan’s quickly developing economy 

Has had many a success

But this one was so crazy

It ended in a mess

The Meiji Era of Japan changed many things forever. In 1868, what was called the Meiji restoration started. It restored practical imperial rule to Japan. The 15th Tokugawa Shogun resigned, being ‘forced’ by the public. This was the official end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, although the Shogun still had influence for a year. January third of that year became known as the restoration of imperial rule as the Meiji Emperor took over. At that time Japan felt it had ‘caught up’ to the rest of the world.


M is for Meiji Restoration

WIth the shogunate coming to an end

It was Japan’s Westernization

And with an advance to modern civilization

It became known as the Meiji Restoration

The street leading to the temple Senso-ji, Nakamise-dori was built in the early 1700’s. It currently is about 250 meters long and has just around 90 shops on it. It leads up to the Thunder Gate, which then leads to Senso-ji.

In the past, the street has been rebuilt three times: Once when it was destroyed in the Kanto Earthquake, again when it was rebuilt with concrete in 1925, and lastly when it was bombed in WWII. During the Kanto Earthquake, over half the shops were completely destroyed.


N is for Nakamise-dori

With plenty of shops to check out

It leads the way to Senso-ji

this 250 meter tourist attraction

Is certainly a sight to see

In total, Tokyo has hosted the olympics three times, each time the summer ones. 2020 will be the third time it holds the olympics.206 nations will compete in 33 sports, starting July 24.

In 1940, Tokyo hosted the Olympics- or at least was supposed to- for the first time. It was scheduled for September 21st to October 6th. However, the games were moved to Helsinki, Finland, due to Japan’s invasion of China. Ultimately, the 1940 summer Olympics were canceled because of WWII.


In two years it will be the third time

Tokyo hosts the Olympics

Each county will go head to head 

Competing in summer athletics

O is for Olympics

Founded in 1998, Pokemon is one of the biggest companies to ever be made. The company was originally called The Pokemon Center Company. It was owned by Nintendo, Creatures, and Game Freak. It was started in Nihonbashi. Because of popularity in Japan and all around Asia, Pokemon, USA, Inc. was opened for control of overseas licensing in 2011. Currently, Pokemon now has Headquarters in Minato, Tokyo, Japan; Bellevue, Washington, USA; London, UK and Seoul, South Korea.


For collectors all over

Pokemon’s the name

It’s not just the cards

It’s also a game

P is for Pokemon

Qoo is a flavored soft drink produced by the Coca-Cola Company. Its name came from its mascot, a small, blue, cat-like creature, tasting the drink. It was introduced into Japan on May 28th, 1999. First served in McDonald’s, it quickly became popular in all of Asia. The drink even became popular for two years in Germany, but was disliked by locals.


A millenial drink

By the name of Qoo

It comes in white grape,

And orange too

Q is for Qoo

During the day, the 798 meter long Bridge looks completely and utterly normal. However, on the wires supporting the Rainbow Bridge are thousands of multicolored lights. These lights are solar powered, made to light up into three colors: red, white, and green. At night, the colors blend together to create the image of a rainbow.


R is for Rainbow Bridge

When driving through the city

The Rainbow Bridge is best

It lights up so prettily

You can skip all the rest

The 1,372 year old temple of Senso-ji in Asakusa is the oldest of its kind. It receives 30 million visitors annually. It was founded in 645 A.D. and is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Guanyin. The temple of Senso-ji was tragically destroyed in WWII. However, it was rebuilt later and became a symbol of peace and rebirth. A tree next to the temple was completely bombed, but grew back years later and became a beacon of hope.


Tokyo’s oldest temple

Dedicated to Guanyin

Through the Thunder Gate

Is the way you get in

S is for Senso-ji

A communications and observations tower in Tokyo become the second tallest structure in Japan. Over 150 million people have visited it since its completion in 1958. The tower stands at 332.9 meters tall in the Shiba-Koen district of Minato, Tokyo. It cost ¥2.8 to build, and took 5 years to complete.

The architect, Tachū Naitō, was inspired by the famous Eiffel Tower. The Tokyo Tower, however, is larger than the Eiffel, by 8.9 meters. It also weighs 3,300 pounds less than the Eiffel Tower.


T is for Tokyo Tower

Although it may not be the EIffel

This tower is taller, and just as pretty

Made of lighter materials

It towers over the rest of the city

Ueno Park is a beautiful public park in Taito, Tokyo. It was established in 1873, being one of Japan’s first public parks. Before Ueno Park opened, the land was owned by the Buddhist temple of Kan’ei-ji. 

This was the same time Shiba, Asakusa, Asukayama, and Fukagawa parks were established. The park was presented to citizens of Tokyo by Emperor Taisho in 1924, and it officially earned its name.


U is for Ueno Park

One of the first of its kind

Ueno park is awesome

And when strolling through

You’ll see cherry blossoms

Japan is the country with the highest per capita rate of vending machines in the world. Vending machines really first started appearing in Japan in the 1950’s. Most of them were simple drink machines. However, people got creative with what to put in vending machines. For instance, a popular item in Japanese vending machines today is canned bread. Some other items you can find in vending machines are phones, clothes, umbrellas, gum, and many other things.


You won’t believe the crazy things

Tokyo’s vending machines sell

From food to underwear

The will really serve you well

V is for Vending Machines

The city of Tokyo has many sections. One of its main sections is divided up into 23 special wards. Collectively, these wards have a population of around 9.4 million people. Some of the most important districts in Tokyo are located inside the 23 special wards. And even though this is true, the wards originally had no constitutional rights.


Wards are like cities

And Tokyo has Twenty three

Inside of their borders

Are the places you’d like to see

W is for Wards

Japan collectively is the fourth largest export economy in the world. Japan’s most major exports go all around the world. These include cars, trucks, and vehicle parts. However, some exports only go to the US. Overall, Japan has traded an estimated 270.7 billion dollars with the US.

The reason a word not started with the letter x was used for this is because the Japanese alphabet has no letter x. Although words may translate to english and include x, no Japanese words actually start with or even include, at all, the letter x.


Shipped all around the world

Japan has many exports

From vehicles to food and drink

The country sends out products of all sorts

X is for Exports

Yayoi Kusama is an amazingly talented artist from Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan. She considers herself a contemporary artist. She is known for showing support with her art, like feminism and environmentalism. She also creates pop art. She has said she was inspired by a pattern on a tablecloth she saw when she was younger.


Y is for Yayoi Kusama

This inspirational artist 

Who uses crazy colors

Has art that makes a statement

And certainly impacts others

Zen is a school of Buddhism that originated in India. It was introduced into Japan, China and Korea during the 8th century AD. It was in the Nara and Heian period. The first Japanese zen master was in Nonin. He started the first Japanese zen school in 1189.


A school of Mahayana
That started in India
This version of Chan Buddhism
Is popular in Asia

Z is for Zen 

Jomon Culture  -  4000 BCE

Yayoi Culture -  300 BCE

Tomb Period  -  300 BC

Nara Period  -  710 CE to 814 CE

Heian Period  -  794 CE 

Kamakura Period -  1185 CE

Ashikaga (Muromachi) Period -  1336 CE

Tokugawa (Edo) Period -  1600 CE

Meiji Restoration / Period -  1868 CE

Taisho Period -  1912 CE

Showa Period - 1926 CE

Contemporary Japan -  1945 to present

Heisi Period -  1989 to present

Time Periods of Japan

Alphabet of Japan