1.) The start (1596 ~ 1650)
If you know Takadanobaba, it is totally not like a natural fairytale. Do you agree? In late 16th Century the area of the current Takadanobaba was a fairytale-look-a-like quiet park.
Once upon a time, the shogunate Tokugawa Ieyasu of Tokugawa clan, the powerful feudal military government, had a wife called Takada-dono. Takada-dono means Highness Takada. She was originally from the Takada state and moved to Edo, current Tokyo, because of her husband Tokugawa. She liked to be around in a quiet area outside of the Edo castle city and her favorite spot was…the spot which called Takadanobaba right now. She lived there in a palace with a nice view of nature.
In 1636, after the death of Takada-dono, the ground had become a place to train horses and her son called that place Takadanobaba, which means Takada’s horse field.
高田 ＝ his mother’s name (takada)
の ＝ possessive form, ‘s in English (no)
馬 ＝ horse (ba)
場 = field (ba)
In Takadanobaba, there were samurai’s practicing horse riding and other horsemanship.
The popular martial art was Yabusame, horseback archery. Still now, every year in Toyama Park, south side of Takadanobaba there is Yabusame festival, horseback archery festival.
2.) Change (1694 ~ 1910)
The original name of this area is Totsuka and during this period, the area lost the name Takadanobaba and it got the original name, Totsuka, again. This area stayed the same for a long time. Step by step more houses were established. In 1737, a new style of Yabusame was introduced, since archery was not anymore a thing in that time. The gun was the hot weapon from then and the original horseback archery faded away.
3.) Back to Takadanobaba (1910 ~ now)
The character of the green park with horses is kind of gone and around 1910 it started to become the Takadanobaba which we know now. Yamanote line had such a big influence of the urban change in this area. In 1910, Takadanobaba station opened and since then the name Totsuka got kicked out and the addresses started to change to Takadanobaba.
From 1964 until now, the Yabusame, horseback festival has taken place as a Shinto ritual yearly in October.
To know more about the history in Tokyo, check our other blog about Roppongi:
Back in time in Roppongi