The Yoshino River Walk New!

Japanese Spatterdock at Ebisu Tako Park. It was growing wildly in old Shibuya River about 150 years ago.
Picture taken in July 13 2015.)

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                  Let's Enjoy
    the Shibuya River Walk
Aruku Shibuya Gawa


             2015/11/5 The Yoshino River Walk
                    Gama Pond & Juban-Inari Shrin
e New!
             2014/10/3 A Tributary of the Shibuya River flowing by Konno Hachimangu
             2014/3/20  The Hidden Kogai River & Legend of Aoyama area
 ~a short culvert walk~
             2013/1/15  How to Walk the Shibuya River, by Kimiko Kajiyama, becomes
                      available in Braille.
             2010/7/20  Presentation at TUC meeting
  -The Scenery of the Shibuya River-
             2005/6/xx  Dear old songs from Shibuya
             Go to Aruku Shibuya-Gawa

Ravel f

1. The three origins of the Yoshino River

On April 21, we enjoyed a Shibuya River Tour from Gama Pond, Gama means toad, in Moto-Azabu to the Juban-Inari Shrine in Azabu-Juban area (*1). We walked along the tributaries, now culverts of the Yoshino River, which was a branch of the Furu River, the lower part of the Shibuya River. The Yoshino River flowed like meshes of a net in this area and had mainly three origins and flows. The first one started at the Roppongi Crossing area, the second one at the south western of the Roppongi Hills, and the third one from Gama Pond at southern Moto-Azabu area. We walked the third tributary from Gama Pond to Azabu-Juban area. These three tributaries surrounded a height in Moto-Azabu shaped like a pentagon. It was a former residence of Lord Yagyu who was the coach of the 3rd Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu, both in military and politics.

The area the Yoshino River flowed.

The first and the second tributaries of the Yoshino River joined at the south eastern corner of Roppongi Hills and flowed along the eastern side of the height to the south as the main river. The third tributary from Gama Pond joined to the main river at the south eastern corner of the height. Then all three tributaries formed the Yoshino River, and flowed along the Azabu-Juban-Odori Street to the Ichino-Hashi, Furu River. Then we walked together through this area and enjoyed stories from the Edo period and later.

Scenery of Gama Pond viewed from the 3rd floor of  The House Gamaike. (NHK: BURATAMORI, ‘Discovery! Legendary Waterside
in Mita/ Azabu.’ (Broadcasting :2010/12/16)

Priest Yoshida explained his dress and let us
hold his cap.

2. Gama Pond

We started our tour at Hiroo Station and first went to the Arisugawa Memorial Park (*2). The garden of the park was Japanese style with an elegant pond and various cherry trees. Walking through the park under the green leaves, the late cherry blossoms, we finally entered a parking lot in a residential area, from which we could see the Gama Pond.

There we looked down at the Gama Pond, about 10 m below, through the bamboo trees. We couldn’t enter the site of the pond because it is a private land surrounded by apartments. Several decades ago, the third tributary of the Yoshino River flowed out of the pond to Azabu-Juban.

The present Gama Pond through the bamboo trees.

Old Gama Pond in 1959. (picture from Utsusareta Minato-ku, Azabuchikuhen (Minato-ku, 2007)

Until the Meiji Era the pond was unspoiled nature about 2/3 of an acre wide. In the modern age of housing development, the pond’s size was reduced numerous times. Several hundred foreign people living in the area opposed the plan along with local people, but it didn’t work. Now the pond became about 1/10 of an acre wide. It is a miracle that a small portion of the original pond has been preserved until today.

The Gama Pond has a legend from the Edo period about 200 years ago.
This area was a residence of Lord Yamazaki, a page of the Edo Shogunate. A big old toad lived in the pond and one day the toad attacked and killed his man patrolling the garden. Lord Yamazaki became fiercely angry and decided to dry up the pond. That night a spirit of the toad, an old dignified man with a long white beard, appeared in his dream and petitioned not to dry up the pond and promised that he would protect his residence when fire occurs. He did not dry up the pond.
Edo had fire disasters often in those days because Edo was very crowded and small wooden houses stood side by side. In 1821, there occurred a conflagration along the Furu River and every house in this area burned down except his residence. It was protected by the big toad which spouted water from the pond on his residence. People were amazed to hear the story and asked Yamazaki to get them a Gama talisman to avoid fire. The talisman became very popular then and still now, it is distributed by Juban-Inari Shrine we later visited. We talked about the Gama topics for a while. One lady said, “The Gama Pond story is funny! Imagine a scene of several frogs spouting water in line!”

3. Roppongi Hills and Mohri Garden

We left Gama Pond and went in a northerly direction to the cliff above Miyamura Park. Along the Miyamura Park area, the tributary from Gama Pond was flowing several decades ago. From the cliff we commanded the vast landscape of Roppongi Hills Tower very clearly against the wide sky. The tower was built almost 15 years ago as a grand condominium. We didn’t visit the Roppongi Hills that day, but I explained about the history and the geometry of this area because the second tributary flows from there.

Vast landscape of the Roppongi Hills area from the
cliff above the Miyamura Park.

Kingyo (Mets-art. com)

Roppongi Hills is named “Hills”, but the southern part of it had been a deep valley and a tributary of the Yoshino River that flowed there until the 1920’s. Many golden fish (kingyo in Japanese) breeders lived there from Edo period and the river water was used for small ponds of kingyo breeding. One big family had a branch store even in London. When a plan for the modern Roppongi Hills was announced the kingyo breeders first opposed it because they wanted to continue their business, but later cooperative for the development of this area. After 17 years of planning and construction, Roppongi Hills was completed and the tributary as well as the many small ponds all disappeared.

Kabuki picture by Utagawa, Toyokuni Kanadehon- Chusin-Gura, A serial of 3
pieces. 1848, Wikipedia

During the Edo period, the area of Roppongi Hills was a residence of Feudal Lord Mhori and had a big pond. Apart from the tributary of the Yoshino River, I introduced a famous story of the Samurai’s loyalty, the Forty-seven Ronin (“Chushin-Gura” in Japanese) related to the Mohri Residence. About 300 years ago, an affair happened in Edo. Lord Asano injured Lord Kira by sword who insulted Asano in the corridor of Edo Castle. Asano was punished and ordered to do seppuku (hara
kiri) and his castle was confiscated by the Edo Shogunate Government. After a year, the Forty-seven Ronin revenged their master Asano, raiding Kira’s residence in the snowy midnight and killed him.
Government decided to punish them again and 10 of them performed seppuku by the pond in Mohri’s garden. Edo people admired the loyalty of the samurai very much and created a famous Jyoruri or Kabuki program of this story. Up to the present time people love the Forty-seven Ronin Legacy and have been making many new dramas and movies. Now the pond in the garden has been remade and the old pond is being preserved under the new pond.

When talking about this, one lady said, “There is a stone monument of the Forty-seven Ronin in the Italian Embassy!” Italian Embassy in Mita, Lord Iyo-Matsuyama’s residence in Edo period, was the place of another 10 Ronin to perform seppuku. To my surprise, the stone monument was built by the Ambassador because he was deeply impressed by this story.

Garden of Italian Embassy. The shape of  the garden has been mostly kept as it was in Edo period. The pictures from :

The monument of Forty-seven Ronin in Italian Embassy.

4. Miyamura Children’s Park & Tanuki-Zaka

A culvert from Gama Pond by the Miyamura Park.

After commanding a good view of Roppongi Hills on the cliff of the Miyamura Park, we walked down and entered the park to see a culvert flowing from Gama Pond. We found a very narrow culvert of the tributary along the other side of the park which once flowed and irrigated the rice fields in this area but disappeared in 1960’s.
In those days, this area was developed quickly for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964. Tokyo Tower was built, the Hibiya line opened, and the planning of the Metropolitan express way started.

Leaving the Miyamura Park, we walked to the exit of the culvert at Tanuki-Zaka (Raccoon dog Slope) directly. The culvert area was too narrow even for one person to walk. But surprisingly, kids streamed out of the mouth of the culvert when we reached the exit. They were cute foreign children having an adventure with teachers in the small lane!

Kids were having an Adventureat the small lane.

A close-up picture of the small lane
of the culvert.

Incidentally, Tanuki-zaka has a funny folklore during the Edo period that a veteran old tanuki lived nearby which liked bewitching people. The tanuki changes a shape of a stone or jizou, a stone deity, into a baby with his magic and puts it on the road. A passer-by finds an abandoned baby and takes him up and carries to the slope, then he/she notices the baby is a stone. There used to be many stones and jizou scattered on the slope. Azabu area had two or three other tanuki stories and even Tanuki Senbei (Japanese cracker) shop along the Azabu-Juban Odori Street we are going to.

A sign of Tanuki-Zaka (Raccoon dog Slope).

A tanuki statue of Tanuki-Senbei Shop
in Azabu-Juban Odori Street.

The tributary, all culvert now, flowed from Tanuki-Zaka to Azabu-Juban Odori Street, at the foot of the southern side of the pentagon shaped height. We walked along the street parallel to the tributary, passing in front of the temples and small shops. After a few minutes’ walk, we entered the lively Azabu-Juban Odori Street. The tributary flowed in the back of parking lots and the buildings and crossed the street at a bakery, Montabo, where there was a bridge called Amishiro Bridge until 1928. It entered the Furu River at Ichino-Hashi after flowing about 200m. We left the tributary and went to the Juban-Inari Shrine near there to know more precisely about the culture and the history of this area.

The lively Azabu-Juban Odori Street with lot's of food shops.

5. Juban-Inari Shrine

We walked about 200m to the east along the Azabu-Juban Odori Street, then turned left and came to Route 319, to which the Shrine is facing. We reached a big Torii along the road and entered the Shrine climbing up the stone steps. There was a main hall at the top of steps and were two guardian dogs, Komainu, in front of the hall. We washed our hands first and rang the big bell and worshiped following Shinto’s tradition. There were also several talismans in the showcase, one of which was originated from the legend of Gama Story and had been distributed for almost 200 years. Even now, Gama Talisman is written with black sumi ink with the very water of Gama Pond. It is amazing!

Big Torii of Juban-Inari Shrine

Gama Talisman

Priest Yoshida greeted us and kindly invited us into the inner shrine. We took off our shoes and entered the hall. The wooden floor was kept with the utmost cleanliness and all the walls were covered with colorful hung clothes. A bright mirror with golden frame and ornaments were enshrined on the Altar and we found some offerings of rice, kelp, sake and others in front of it.

Priest Yoshida explained to us the history and essence of Shinto as well as a history of Azabu areavery plainly and attractively. It is regrettable that I cannot show you the whole of his precious talk. On the day, his lecture was interpreted by Hiroko Ikegami.

Priest Yoshida explained to us the history
and essence of Shinto.

The inside of the Main Hall was very cozy and we got ready to listen to his speech. First of all, he talked about the long history of Shinto. “The origin of Shinto goes back to Jomon Period in the New stone Age, though we cannot confirm it clearly. It began with the sense of fear and respect for natural phenomenon such as divine mountains, the falls, the rocks and etc.

The outline of Shinto was established in the 3rd century. Japanese classical books Kojiki : Records of Ancient Matters (A.D.712) and Nihonshoki : Chronicles of Japan (A.D.720) describe priests who served Kami-sama, Shinto God. It is difficult to explain idea of Shinto briefly, but the essence of faith was awe, modesty and worship for a soul that existed in everything in the nature. The people of a community which engaged in rice farming prayed to a soul for the rain and good harvest in accordance with Shinto ritual. Different from Christianity or Buddhism, Shintoism has no doctrine, no scripture and no founder.”
Before Buddhism was imported to Japan, Shinto didn’t have shrine buildings but later they built it called Yashiro, due to the influence of the temple style of Buddhism, where Kami-sama exist at all times. On the occasion of a ritual,
priests dedicated a prayer called Norito to Kami-sama in the building and performed a ceremony. This style of Shinto ritual keeps until today.

“We shake this to purify uncleanness.”

The mirror symbolizes a virtue of honesty.

In Shinto, ritual of purification is very important. The priest showed us a pole attached to the white long papers like feathers. “When priests have a ritual, they shake this pole to purify uncleanness, disaster and etc. The mirror on the Altar symbolizes a virtue of honesty and is an instrument for a visitor to worship Kami-sama with a pure heart. Komainu, the guardian animals in front of the main hall that drive away the evil spirit. In that purified place, a priest serves a meal to Kami-sama and recites Norito. When someone asks a shrine to pray for a safe birth or a safe construction, a priest performs a ritual and informs his/her wish to Kami-sama reciting the Norito which includes the person’s request written on the paper. A priest is like a medium between Kami-sama and people.
In Japan, we are accustomed to a thought that words have a soul of language that once it is spoken, the idea of it will be realized by a mysterious power. So we have to select good words as much as possible and carefully inform the wish to Kami-sama. By the way how-to-pray-Norito is changing these days. Norito has originally been in a small voice because it was recited only between Kami-sama and a priest. Nowadays priests recite in a louder voice because people want to listen to it themselves.
After Norito finished, all the people who joined the ritual share Kami-sama’s food and sake and get energy from the sacred food. Then they go back to the reality.
Today we still have various Shinto ceremonies like wedding, first visit of a child to a shrine, shichi-go-san (a festival on November 15th for children of three, five and seven years of age), jichinsai ( purifying a building site before construction), traffic safety of cars and also the completion of a new bridge, launching a rocket and etc. Shinto is deeply alive even in this high-tech society of Japan.”

The priest in his traditional Eboshi (cap) and Kariginu (dress).

Good interpretation by Hiroko. 

By the way, he showed us his traditional dress. His black cap called Eboshi looked heavy but we were so surprised when we held it. It was really light! He said that it was made of paper with lacquerware. He put on his traditional dress, called Kariginu and said, “They made the sleeves so wide that we could stay cool with good ventilation.”
He talked about the history of Juban-Inari Shrine. There were 2 shrines around here, Suehiro Shrine and Takecho-Inari Shrine before World War . Both of them burned down in the air-raid and merged after the war and became the present Shrine. Suehiro Shrine had taken over the Gama Talisman mentioned before in this paper and Juban-Inari Shrine restored it. We learned and enjoyed the outline of history and ritual of Shinto very much.
We really appreciated Priest Yoshida for his wonderful lecture and performance.

Stone figures of toads & a signboard of the
legend of Gama Pond.

A main pole of Amishiro Bridge 
which was at Bakery Montabo.

When we got out of the Shrine and returned to the Torii, we found there were a cute stone figure of a toad and a main pole of Amishiro Bridge by the steps. The Shrine keeps the legend of Gama Pond and the memory of the Yoshino River as historical items in Azabu area. We couldn’t reach the Ichino-Hashi Bridge because of a tight schedule.  The Yoshino River flowed near the Shrine and poured into the Furu River at the Ichino-Hashi Bridge.

I would like to say thank you to Hiroko-san for interpreting the Priest’s lecture and Chris Kim for her kind language advice on this paper.

After the tour, I shared Japanese soba noodle lunch with one lady. It was really tasty after the long walk. Then we went to Ebisu-East Park nicknamed Tako Park to see the little pond of Kohone flower, a kind of yellow lotus flower which was blooming in the old Shibuya River. When we reached there, she called to me, “Oh a toad welcomes us in the pond, just right for today!” What good luck it was!

At Juban-Inari Shrine.

A special guest
from Tako Park.

 (*1) Azabu is the name of this area and “Juban” means the 10th in Japanese. In 1676, the Furu River was widen and deepen for the ships to enter and transport goods from Tokyo Bay to Ichino-Hashi. The name of Azabu-Juban came out of the 10th construction part.

 (*2) The Arisugawa Memorial Park was owned by Feudal Lord Nanbu in the Edo period, then became a residence of Prince Arisugawa Takahito in the Meiji Era and then was donated to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as a public park. 

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1. Geology of the Tributary

One fine day we walked along an old Tributary of the Shibuya River, which is now a culvert, flowing by Konno Hachimangu Shrine and Tofukuji Temple (3-5 Shibuya Shibuya-ku) in the center of Shibuya, Tokyo. The Tributary started at the southern vicinity of Aoyama-dori Street by the western side of Aoyama Gakuin University, and poured into the main Shibuya River near Shibuya station until the mid-20th century.

Though the Tributary was as short as 700 m, it is very interesting because the river has had a connection to many historical legends as far back as the the middle of 12th century. One famous legend refers to Shibuya Castle which is thought to have stood in the triangle area where the main Shibuya River and the Tributary met and surrounded the castle like a moat. Today part of this area is Konno Hachimangu Shrine. We checked the old river signs and the history of the area while walking along the tiny culvert.

Happy tea time with priests at Konno Hachimangu Shrine.

Date: June 3rd, 2014
Our walking route: Omotesando Crossing --- Aoyama-dori Street --- National Children's Castle (Kodomo-no-shiro)
--- A street by the Aoyama Gakuin University (ancient Kamakura-kaido Road and Kurokuwa Valley) --- A culvert at garage of Aoyama
Alcove --- Roppongi-dori Street (Shibuya 2-chome Crossing) --- Tofukuji Temple --- Konno Hachimangu Shrine---Meiji-dori Street (the Shibuya River)

Shibuya City Cultural Map with the following places.
A: A big pond at Aoyama Train Shed.
B: A 90m-long remain of the old Tributary.
C: Konnomaru’s First Bathing Pond (History of Shibuya Ward mentions the place.)

We started from Omotesando Crossing and walked along Aoyama-dori Street on the northern side for about 5 minutes. We reached National Children's Castle (Kodomo-no-shiro) and found a sculpture displaying happy faces: “Tree of Children” created by Artist Okamoto Taro.

Tree of Children” by Okamoto Taro.

United Nations University

At the northern side of Aoyama-dori Street including National Children's Castle and United Nations University (Kokuren Daigaku), there was Aoyama Train Shed from 1911 to 1968 ( on the map) which had a big pond. The Southern side of Aoyama-dori Street is a gentle downhill slope. The geography suggests the area was the origin of the Tributary of the Shibuya River. Geologically, there is ‘the Shibuya  Layer of Clay’ under this place. Rain water, seeping into the ground is stopped by the clay and diverts the flow out at the cliffs. This is the same structure of the origin of the Kogai River, mentioned in the article “The Hidden Kogai River & Legend of Aoyama area,referenced 3/22/2014 in this Topics site.

We crossed the Aoyama-dori Street by Aoyamagakuin-mae Walking Bridge and entered narrow Hachiman Street curving to the south. The Tributary of the Shibuya River was flowing by Hachiman Street which was a section of the ancient Kamakura-kaido Road used in 12th century and later (1) .

Meanwhile, this place was called Kurokuwa Valley in the Edo era. The valley was deeper than now, and there, the tributary flowed into the bottom of it. Kurokuwa, which originally meant a thick hoe in old term Japanese, was also the name of the people who lived here engaging in a public construction work for Edo Shogunate.

2. The river signs

There remains a sign of culvert at the deepest place of the parking lot.

A sign of culvert. The origin of
the river is near here.

We walked along the Hachiman Street about 70m and entered to the parking area to the back of the Aoyama Alcove building at the right side. There was a sign of a culvert with soil and grass at the deepest area. “Here it is!” I pointed to a narrow 1.5m-width space which extends along the fence. It was a 90m-long remain of the old Tributary in the Shibuya City Cultural Map above (B on the map). The origin of the river is supposed to be near here. The river would have been in the bottom of far deeper valley when this place was called Kurokuwa Valley.

Someone asked me “How do you know this was an old flow?” I replied that I made sure this site is a canal lot by consulting the Sewerage Ledger Map (2). Furthermore, I know Mr. Asatsuma’s first-hand experience of river. He is the president of the neighborhood association and was born in Shibuya. He said to me, “I saw a narrow stream in about 1940, when I was a 4 or 5-year-old kid, in the backyard of present Aoyama Alcove. My friends and I often played, making bamboo leaf boats and floating them in the clean stream.” According to him, all the northern flow of the Tributary above present Roppongi Street became a culvert in 1950 because of readjustment of the town. Since then, this 90m-long culvert space has been owned by public (MLIT ) (3).

Sewerage Ledger Map

The exit of the culvert with soil and gravel.

After we saw the culvert in the parking lot, we returned to the Hachiman Street and walked another 50m to the south. There we checked the exit of the culvert, where soil and gravel open to the road which goes down from the Street. “It is under the buildings hereafter, isn’t it?” someone said. Yes, it is. In
Cadastral maps of Shibuya Ward (4), the Tributary went almost straight to the facing block, where many buildings are now standing.

Actually, this area has plenty of water nowadays. For example, there is a well in this area from which the water gushed forth so much that the owner had to control it because of the hyper sewage charge! Another story describes that one person closed the well after doing some exorcism rite, the traditional Shinto ceremony in Japan. In those days, the river flowed gathering a big amount of water and crossing underneath present Roppongi Street, and then continuing to Tofukuji Temple and Konno Hachimangu Shrine. We walked along the river full of imagination.

3. Tofukuji Temple

Tofukuji Temple

A big bell (Bonsyo) 

We crossed Roppongi Street at the Shibuya 2-chome intersection. Following the Tributary, we walked along the Street to west for 50m and turned to the south to Tofukuji Temple. The Tributary became culvert earlier (in about 1920) in this area from the other side of the present Roppongi Street, where there is no sign of a river today. After flowing underground and passing in front of Tofukuji Temple, the Tributary appeared on the ground at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine next to it. A priest of Tofukuji Temple said to me that there was a bridge at the gate of the Shrine, and from there the river appeared through the big conduit  which he enjoyed exploring so often in his childhood. Part of the bridge still remains.

We visited the Tofukuji Temple which was established in 1173. The temple was Bettoji of Konno Hachimangu Shrine, which means a temple together with a shrine, the Japanese tradition of the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism. When I explained about the syncretism, one friend said, ”Japanese is born Shinto, gets married as Christian, then dies as Buddhist.” (laugh!)

We entered the Temple and saw a large bell (Bonsyo), made in 1704, hung in a wooden tower. It was and is an important bell for Shibuya-ku as it has Shibuya’s history carved onto it in old Chinese characters. According to the comments by the Shibuya Municipal Board of Education, this whole area was called Yamori-no-sho in 11th century, and was divided into seven regions one of which was Shibuya.

 A child dragon “Hiki” under a Koshinto Tower.

Koshinto Tower

There was another interesting thing in the entrance area. It was a stone animal like a turtle which was under a heavy pole. One friend said “A turtle? Not a turtle, a dragon!? What is this?” I researched later and discovered it to be a “Hiki,” a Chinese mythical animal, which is a child of a dragon and likes to hold something heavy! In China, it is often used as an ornament for a pole. The modern Japanese word “hi-i-ki” came from “Hiki” phonetically changed, which means patronage for sumo wrestlers, Kabuki performers, or partiality to favorable persons.
We said good-by to the temple and went to Konno Hachimangu Shrine next.

4. Konno Hachimangu Shrine

A model of the Shibuya Castle made by Kokugakuin University, in the Treasure House of the Shrine.(Bura-Tamori by NHK)

A CG of the Shibuya Castle and the River. (Bura-Tamori by NHK)

The Tributary was flowing on the ground in front of the Torii gate of the Shrine until 70 years ago and traveled down a slope to the Shibuya River. It is likely that the river made a rapid flow when it rained and plenty of water gathered to the river. We arrived at Konno Hachimangu Shrine which was established in 1092. According to the Shrine’s guide, the Shibuya Family, which ruled the area from 12th century to 16th century, worshiped the Shrine and built their Shibuya Castle around it.

The Shibuya Castle was not a big castle with a tall tower, but it had been at a good location being protected by the 2 rivers as a moat, the main Shibuya River and the Tributary we are walking along. A popular NHK program Bura-Tamori featured the Shibuya River in 2011 (5). In the program, we could watch the Shibuya River flowing brilliantly before the Shibuya Castle’s gate and protective fence in the CG scene.

Wooden Statue of Konnomaru. This statue is said t o be carved by him as a memento for his mother when he left the Castle. (Made public once a year in Spring Festival)

Konnomaru’s First Bathing Pond. Edo-meisyo-zue. The right is the magnification of the red circledarea. Colored by the author.

By the way, Lord Shibuya had an only son named Konnomaru who was a tough and loyal samurai in the 12th century. When Konnomaru was in his mid-teens he served the Genji leader, Minamoto Yoshitomo, father of Yoritomo, a founder of Kamakura Shogunate. When Yoshitomo was defeated and killed, Konnomaru fought bravely and returned to Yoshitomo’s wife to report his death. He became a popular Kabuki hero in Edo era; even now Kabuki actor Ichikawa Somegoro performs new Kabuki Konnomaru.

In the middle age, there were several ponds in this area because of plentiful water, one of which called Konnomaru’s First Bathing Pond appears in Edo-meisyo-zue (6). According to History of Shibuya Ward, the place of the pond was likely to be at point C on the map. There was another one called Konnomaru’s Pond for Cooling-Down-His Steeds nearby.

Konno Hachimangu Shrine with cherry blossoms. (picture taken by Yoshio Yamada in April 2014)

Hand washing at the Pavilion.

When we reached the Konno Hachimangu Shrine, we first washed our hands with water at an ablution pavilion by the gate. There was a cherry tree by the main building. One priest explained in English that the cherry is called Konno-zakura and blooms with both single cherry blossoms and double cherry blossoms at the same time on one tree. It has been planted for generations by seedling. It is amazing!

The priest explained about the main building, which was painted red with lacquer and had some sculptures on the upper part with animals. The tiger at the left side is a symbol of justice in politics, and a mythical tapir (Baku) at the right side represents peace. In China it is said that Baku, a mythical animal, eats iron which suggests arms. As Baku was so intriguing, I looked into Baku later and found interesting details about it. According to a researcher of old Chinese archives on the internet, the origin of Baku seems to be a Giant Panda (7). Baku is described as having a small head, short legs, white and black patterns, and eats bamboo, copper, iron. That’s amazing! In Japan, Baku is said to eat nightmares.

The present shrine building was dedicated in 1612 by 2 important figures in the Tokugawa shogunate regime. One was the 3rd Shogun Iemitsu’s wet nurse Lady Kasuga, and the other was Lord Aoyama Tadatosi, the 3rd Shogun’s assistant, and his family name is the origin of the town name “Aoyama”. We also saw a “Kogai,” a hair ornament for ladies or a tool for samurai to carry with his sword, in the treasure house of the Shrine. An interesting history of this Kogai is mentioned in the article “The Hidden Kogai River & Legend of Aoyama area,” 3/22/2014 in this Topics site.

Luckily we were invited to a guest room in the Konno Hachimangu Shrine. We saw many traditional dresses of priests drying on the tatami mattress in the next room. We got interested in the colors and patterns on them, which were beautiful cranes, pine leaves and etc.  

The priest showed us his Kariginu dress.

Sculptures Tiger and Baku on the upper partof the main building.

Mr. Tadokoro, the priest explained the essence of Shintoism. “We are all born pure but become dirty gradually in the process of growing up. Shinto washes people’s dirt thereby restoring their purity so to enhance understanding of and respect for Nature.” He explained that the Shrine succeeds the regional culture and history, and makes a big effort to maintain its own treasures, traditional crafts, and architecture. After he shared these precious stories, he served us tasty tea. It was a really unforgettable time for us. One friend wrote to me later “It was wonderful getting a "behind the scenes" and so warm and gracious of the priests to give us so much of their time as well as the added treat of tea.”  Thank you very much, Mr. Tadokoro, for your interesting lecture and exquisite “Omotenashi.” After tea, we saw a piece of an old stone in the precincts of the shrine. It was a piece of the bridge which had been down in front of the steps of the Shrine until almost 70 years ago.


5. Meiji dori Street

We walked to the last point, Meiji dori Street near the main Shibuya River. The Tributary of the Shibuya River was flowing along the Shrine and down a slope to the River by the Kachi Bashi Bridge. Today, the culvert does not reach the River, but is flowing into the Main Drain Pipe under the Meiji dori Street.

The Tributary was flowing along the Shrine.

A piece of an old stone bridge.

Nowadays, Shibuya is a modern city with the Scramble Crossing, a trendy fashion store Shibuya 109, and ICT companies such as DeNA, LINE. However, several hundred meters away from them, can be found the historical buildings, art crafts, and geological signs of the River with rich stories dating to the 12th century. Shibuya is a fantastic city mixed with traditional culture and state-of-art technology. How about coming to Shibuya and have your own adventure?   (I really appreciate Carie Levin for her kind language advice and correction.)

(1) Kamakura-kaido Road was mainly used in the Kamakura Period which started in 12th century. In a time of civil war, samurai living in the Kanto area gathered quickly to Kamakura Shogunate through the road. Kamakura Shogunate was the first government in Japan by samurai. Until then Emperors and noblemen were the rulers.
(2) Sewerage Ledger Map, Bureau of Sewerage, Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
(3) Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
(4) Cadastral maps of Shibuya Ward, Tokyo City , Uchiyama-mokei-seizu-sha, 1935
(5) “Shibuya, the Misterious city in the Valley”, NHK Bura-Tamori (3/31/2011). Bura-Tamori was a TV program 2008 - 2012 featuring Tokyo walking with old maps.
(6) Edo-meisyo-zue is a geographical booklet of historic sites written by Saito Yukio & family and pictured by Hasegawa Settan, 1834, 1836.
(7) Araki Tatsuo, A Giant Panda in Chinese Old Documents, Bulletin of the Department of Chinese Language & Literature, The University of Tokyo, 2006. (PDF in Japanese)

(The End)

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1. Our route

One sunny fine day, I invited some of my friends to go walking along the Kogai River culvert, which was once a tributary of the Shibuya River (the Furu River). We walked for a short part of the culvert at the west side of Aoyama Cemetery, in Minato-ku, center area of Tokyo. We followed the water flow drawn on Shibuya City Cultural Map below (1). The route was : Metro Gaien exit 1a (Aoyama dori)Baisoin Templean origin of the Kogai River (back street of Gaiennishi dori)Minato-ku Minamiaoyama 3 Chome Green Spacea culvert of the Kogai RiverFunamitsu Shrine. Then we returned to Aoyama dori. It took almost 1 and half hours.

Shibuya City Cultural Map with the upper Kogai River route from Meiji 20 (1888) Map and Meiji 44 (1912) Map (2).

Kogai, the meaning of the River’s name. is a hair ornament for ladies’ with Japanese hair style or a tool for samurai to carry with his sword. This is said to be 10th century samurai Minamoto Tsunemoto’s Kogai, which is owned and exhibited by Konnou Shrine (3-5-12 Shibuya Shibuya-ku).


2. Baisoin Temple

Sign with sea-level number 

Baisoin Temple gate with long bamboo aisle

Main temple building

First we came to Metro Gaien Station exit 1a and saw a sign on the wall. On the sign sea-level number 31.1m is written. In this area there used to generate plenty of water naturally from around this height. That is because the Shibuya layer of clay stays under the ground. Rain water got into the ground only to stop on the surface of the clay layer and then slid and flowed down at the cliffs. Some of water still generates today (3).

Before starting the culvert walk, we visited Baisoin Temple by the Aoyama dori through its long bamboo aisle. Someone said that she thought the temple a gorgeous restaurant and another said a wealthy person’s residence. In reality it has been a famous temple since early Edo period, and was described beautifully in Edo Meisho Zue (4). It was Lord Aoyama’s family temple since the early Edo period, mid-17th century. Lord Aoyama owned this area, nowadays called North and South Aoyama, as his residential site (5). Part of it became Aoyama Cemetery in 1872 just after Meiji Restoration.

“Temple of Peace Goddess (Kannon) of Mercy”  in Baisoin Temple. Edo Meisho Zue. The blue part (colored by the author) is a river.                                    

Present Kannon, Buddhism statue.  

The entrance appeared at the end of the long bamboo aisle. The temple in the deepest place was a very modern architecture with big glass walls, which was built newly in 2003. At first we saw a little pet cemetery building near the gate. On the wall there are many pets’ names which are sleeping inside quietly. The ladies were very interested maybe because they each have their own pets. One of the ladies said “In Denmark we also have this kind recently but not in the past. I guess it is very expensive here.”

We entered the Kannon-do room in the main building and saw new beautiful Kannon (Buddhism statue). I explained that old Peace Kannon stayed here and was admired very much but, burnt down in the World War . Some of them sighed for it, “It is so regrettable not to see the old one.” Then we started to the Kogai River culvert.

Aoyama Cemetery is on a height. Little streams started from both of the western and eastern side of Aoyama Cemetery (See the upper right map). They were origins of the Kogai River. One of them started from a backyard of Baisoin Temple.

3. Culvert walk

2 Parallel Streams from Baisoin Temple. Edo-Information-Map (1994, Asahi-Shinbun Publishing) with the blue river shapes from Meiji 20 (1888) Map by the author.


The Upper Stream of the Kogai River. The red flame shows the area of the left map. A part of Meiji 20 (1888) Map. Colored by the auther.  

Aoyama Cemetery is on a height. Little streams started from both of the western and eastern side of Aoyama Cemetery (See the upper right map). They were origins of the Kogai River. One of them started from a backyard of Baisoin Temple.

After seeing the Temple, we got back to Aoyama dori and entered to a little aisle by the Gaienmae walking bridge. The aisle is next to the backyard of Baisoin Temple and this area was the very site of the origin of the Kogai River (see red circle in upper left map). Then the flow became 2 parallel streams A and B in the map. We followed the A stream,  now culvert, which crosses the Gaiennishi dori to the south. The culvert, paved with concrete and stone, reached to the Gaiennishi dori. We went up the steps and found another steps down to the culvert at the opposite side. We crossed the street and stepped down by Sports Club RIVIERA, Italian company’s branch. Meaning of “RIVIERA” is a coast of river or lake in Italian. What an amazing coincidence!

We reached a cozy area ‘Minato-ku Minamiaoyama 3 Chome Green Space’ next to the Club. We took a picture of us for memory. One member said, “I can easily guess that this is a culvert because I walk my dog here often and can hear the sound of water flowing!” 

The old tributary keeps to flow to Nishiazabu crossing and to southern direction, joining other western flows.

Starting area of the Kogai River. The flow divides into 2 streams A & B at this corner. (See red circle in upper left map.)

The culvert A reached the steps (left side).

Our company at Minato-ku Green Space

4. Funamitsu Shrine

After we walked about 100 m, we departed from the culvert and turned right to visit Funamitsu Shrine. It is on the western slope of the culvert. We walked up for 100 m again and found the Shrine with charming red tori gates on the right (Minami-Aoyama 3-4-11). There were two foxes at the both sides of inner tori. They said “How cute!” One fox held a cube and the other held a baby fox. Meaning of the cube is a spiritual power and the other, to be blessed with children.

The culvert way goes tothe southern direction.

Funamitsu Shrine tori gate

Guardian fox with a baby under her arm. 

 The Funamitsu Shrine has an interesting legend related to the name. “Funa” means a ship and “mitsu” means light. Someone said “A ship? Then was there water?” Yes, there was. According to a history of this shrine, they had a harbor here and ships went in and out in 8th century. One day, there came a big storm and a ship was drifted nearby and about to wreck. All of a sudden, a light came from the Shrine and the ship safely reached the harbor.

Blue part is water in old ages. Earth-diver Map, Shin-ichiNakazawa, 2005

Geology tells us that the sea water level got high in old ages and around here it became a large body of water. Earth-diver Map showed us the status of Tokyo Bay with countless inlet sea. This situation could create the legend. A red circled mark in the Earth-diver Map is supposed to be Funamitsu Shrine. Also you can see the name of “Ebisu” in the sea, at the lower left of the Map.

5. Origin of name of the Kogai River

In the medieval times, there was a bridge called the Kogai bashi (Kogai bridge) about 1 km south of the Funamitsu Shrine. The river name “Kogai” was from the bridge’s name and kogai is originally a hair ornament or a tool. (See the top picture.) There were 3 stories about the origin of the Kogai bashi name in Edo period.

The 1st story was on defeating of the ogre at the bridge. In the mid17th century, there lived a wealthy person called Shibuya Millionaire and he restored Funamitsu Shrine in those days. He had a beautiful daughter. One day she fell in love with a young man and they had a date by a bridge. Then an ogre attacked them. Suddenly a young soldier appeared from nowhere and defeated the ogre for them. He was a spirit of Kogai tool, which the young man had gotten when he visited the Meguro-Fudo shrine. After finished his job, the Spirit returned to his original figure, Kogai tool, and disappeared to the River. After that, the bridge was named Kogai bashi.

Kogai was used in old days by both of man and women. They used kogai to arrange their hair or scratch their head. Their hair was so hard with oil in Edo period that they couldn’t scratch without a tool like kogai. Someone said, “Oh, I once touched a Sumo wrestler’s hair. It was very hard like a helmet ! ”

Sumo wrestler, Edo period, by Utakawa Kuniyoshi:

Ancient samurai Minamoto Tsunemoto shooting a deer, from “Joganden moon”,  Various phases of the Moon, 1880s, by Tsukiok Yoshitoshi (Wikipedia)

Ninjya climbing a rope in black costume, Hokusai Manga, Edo period by Katsushika Hokusai

The next story is about a man called Minamoto Tsunemoto almost 1000 years ago. He was an ancient samurai and ancestor of Genji Family, the founder of Kamakura Shogunate Government established in 1192. There happened several civil wars in Japan in those days. He was on the way to Kyoto to see Tenno (Emperor) to tell him some secret information. But he was stopped by soldiers of rebel army at a bridge. Then he pretended their ally and gave them his Kogai as a gift for the oath. And then he passed the bridge safely.

“The Kogai bashi” Edo-Meisho-Zue, The blue part (colored by the author) is the Kogai River.

The last story is about Ninja. They were Japanese secret agents in feudal ages, and are popular comics and movies nowadays. There were two famous Ninjya groups, Koga and Iga, in the age of Civil Wars in 16th century. They were very good at collecting information and handling guns. After Tokugawa Shogunate Government was established in 1603, the government let them live around Edo Castle and guard the City of Edo. Many of Koga and Iga groups lived around this bridge in addition to Harajyuku, Aoyama and a part of Shinjuku area. People called the bridge “Kogai bashi” because the words of “Koga, Iga” phonetically joined. This is the final legend.

Why did the Kogai bashi have so various stories though it was a tiny 4 m long bridge? Perhaps this bridge was at the very strategic point between Kyoto, ancient capital, and Aoyama and deep Kanto area in those days.

6. Closing

After we visited the Funamitsu Shrine, we returned to the Aoyama dori where we started and finished the tour. However, the culvert of the Kogai River keeps flowing to the Tengenji Bridge at Meiji dori, and there flows into the Shibuya River (Furu River). The Kogai River became a culvert after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and Tokyo Olympic Game in 1964. But it still remains flowing under the ground with lots of histories and stories.
(Special thanks to Carie Levin for her kind language advice to Kimiko Kajiyama)

(1) Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum.
(2) A Compilation of Edo-Tokyo City Area Map, Reduced Scale of 1 to 5,000, Harajuku City Library.
(3) One example is Kiyomasa’s Well in Meiji Shrine at a sea level about 30.2m.
(4) A geographical booklet of historic sites written in the latter part of the Edo period of Japan.
(5)At the beginning of Edo period, the founder of Edo Shogunate Government Tokugawa Ieyasu told his man Aoyama of distinguish achievement that the site as wide as he ran on his horse in a day should be given to him. So he ran all day long until his horse couldn’t run anymore and got this wide area. That’s why it has the name “Aoyama”.



On April 2011, I received an e-mail from my longtime friend Fusako Hatsuta. The mail informed me that my recently published book How to walk the Shibuya River had been chosen to be translated into Braille. Fusako has been a longtime member of ‘Uehara Tenji-no-Kai’, a volunteer group that translates books into Braille, indeed, tenji means “ braille points.”  She also wrote about her surprise to discover that it was my book that was selected by the association’s leader, Yukari Morita, and that what a happy coincidence it was that she could translate her own friend’s work

It took Fusako and Yukari a long time to translate How to Walk the Shibuya River.  But finally, this past fall, September 2012, they informed me that the translation and binding was completed. They extended an invitation to me to view the new version. I visited the Shibuya City Library, Chuo, where they had been working and where the book is now kept. It was a pretty red and in three volumes. How nice the book was! I was so grateful.

Yukari Morita and Fusako Hatsuta


One page of the book in Braille.  

Yukari Morita informed me that “The book was translated by three translators spending a half a year, and the proof reading was done by three other editors.” We do have software to translate into Braille. But before using the software we need change each kanji, Chinese character, into kana, its phonetically equivalent letter.  Names are especially tricky since the reading of names written in kanji is sometimes very different from their exact translation. This was the main cause of such a long year in the making of the book.”  Then she explained how she discovered the book. “I found it at the Kinokuniya bookstore in Tokyu Plaza, Shibuya, Tokyo. The book had occupied a prime spot on the front shelf for new publications and I felt that it was very interesting to read the old river stories with their academic explanations. Our group is focusing on books which have a connection with Shibuya City and I felt that when one reads this book one can better understand the real character and history of the town.

She also spoke about her important work. “In Japan nowadays, almost 80,000 books (including magazines) are published in a year formally, but only 14 % are translated to Braille. The ratio of Braille books must increase so that all the people may access the modern culture expressed in the books of the library.”

I quite agree to Yukari. All people should have an equal right in accessing knowledge about modern culture and new discoveries.  I want to say thank you to Fusako Hatsuta and Yukari Morita, and to all the members of Uehara Tenji-no-Kai for their passion and precious work.  I am very happy and honored to be a contributing author in Braille. (Revised by Susan Hirakawa Jan 2013, I really appreciate Susan’s kindness. Kimiko)

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Tokyo Union Church Women's Society Shinbokukai 7/1/2010

This is a record of a short presentation on the Shibuya River and a book ‘How to walk the Shibuya River’. This is done at Shinbokukai of TUC Women’s Society on July 1 by Kimiko Kajiyama. Please enjoy the historical stories and the pictures.

The Shibuya River has a history.

 What is the Shibuya River ?
The Shibuya River now flows through Shibuya-ku and Minato-ku to Tokyo Bay. The upper parts were covered and gone under the ground. But still you can see the beautiful remains of the River here and there. (Please see the Map)

At a meeting room in Izumi Garden

Now I am thinking “Why did I get interested in the Shibuya River?” I moved to Ebisu area 10 years ago, so this area was very new for me. But first I found Shibuya just a big city and only for young people, shopping and eating. Then I decided to explore the city to find something good. First I visited museums and restaurants with my friend Sachiko Maeda. I found that the Museums were not so interesting. By chance I saw a tiny river near Shibuya Station. And then I found the same river flowing in Ebisu area about 300 m from my home.

A tiny river near Shibuya Station

I came to know that this river is called the Shibuya River and it has a history. So Sachiko and I decided to explore the river together. We shared such a good time checking the materials in the library, interviewing the people who know about the old river, and visiting temples and shrines. And after 6 and half year-checking and writing,  Sachiko advised me to publish this book. So I added new information and interviewed many more people and at last published this book in June.

'How to walk the Shibuya River' 

Well, did you know about the Shibuya River? No? It was same for me. I hadn’t known anything about the River till I moved to Ebisu area. I came to know that a river flowed outside the south exit of the Toyoko line near Shibuya Station. It was not a beautiful river. All of the banks and riverbeds were covered with concrete. The backs of the houses and buildings faced the river so closely. But the city river had something attractive. I had just come back from Paris where I saw La Seine River. It was a pity to compare the tiny Shibuya River to La Seine. In any way, after a little while I checked a map and found that the Shibuya River started to flow at Shibuya Station to Ebisu and Minato-ku all along the back street of Meiji Dori or along Meiji Dori itself and then ending at Tokyo Bay. Now it’s difficult to see the Shibuya River because the upper part of the river was covered as Tokyo prepared for Olympic in 1964. They covered the river with new streets and highways.  

Before 1964 it was a dear old river. The river was natural and with people. I introduce you one little story from the book. Uta-san who lives nearby Ebisu Station talked this story to me. After the World War 2, there used to be a fire tower next to Shibuya-bashi Bridge by Ebisu Station. One fire fighter was watching out for fire. And then he found an eel swimming in the river and he got down quickly from the tower and caught the eel and ate it. How lucky he was! Utasan heard that the eel was very tasty. The Shibuya River in that age seems to have been very natural and full of fish.

From now I‘ ll show you pictures of the river which are covered and uncovered.
(Please see the Map)

 1.       Let me show you a part from a page of ‘Edo-kiriezu Map' . Edo Period was from 1603 to 1868. This is the present Shinjyuku Garden area near the Shinjyuku Gyoen mae Station. Two flows are the uppermosts of the old Shibuya River.

Edo-kiriezu Map (Naito-Shinjyuku-Sendagaya-henzu)

2.       The right side flow in the map was flowing from Tamagawa city water way and flowed under the pathway (see the below picture) just outside of Shinjyuku Garden. (Tamagawa city water way was created by Shogunate to supply water to Edo in 1653.)

   The pathway

3.       This pond is the lowest pond in Shinjyuku Garden. This was a part of the Shibuya River before, which is drawn at the left side in the ‘Edo-kiriezu Map’.

  The lowest pond

4.       This is Naito Shrine outside Shinjyuku Garden. This shrine was a protector of Naito family, the Tokugawa Shogunate vassal. Naito family was given this area because the first master of Naito worked hard for the Tokugawa family. 

  Naito Shrine

5.       This is Kiyomasa’s well inside Meiji Shrine. From that place the water is still flowing and we can see it. But in reality, you cannot see the well. Why? Because it has become one of the famous power spots in Shibuya. It is so popular that people stand in line very early morning and has to stand 3 to 5 hours to see the well. They are sure that the picture of the well in their keitai gets them happiness. So it is impossible to see the well. Don’t you think so?

  Kiyomasa’s Well

6.       The water is still flowing under this interesting street Brahms’s Lane, which is very close to Tokyo Union Church.

  Brahms’s Lane

7.       This is the Cats’ Street, covered river, crossing with Omotesando by Chanel.

  Cats’ Street

8.       This is a picture from Edo period, ‘Onden’s Water Wheel’. It was by the Cats’Street. You can see the picture on the board by Jingumae koban. It polished rice.

  Onden’s Water Wheel

9.       This is a continuous part of the Cats’Street, where the water wheel turned.

  The water wheel turned here.

10.       They say there used to bloom Kohone flower, a kind of lotus, in the Kohone River. The river's name 'kohone' is originated from this flower. Now you can see plenty of beautiful Kohone at Hakone-Shisseikaen (June to September).

  Kohone flower

11.       There is a little pond in the Syoto Park. You can see carps, ducks and a water mill in the pond. Still now there is a little spring water. Once the water flowed into the Uda River
 The Syoto Pond

12.    From Shibuya Station walk along the Roppongi Street, and turn to the right we can see Konno Hachiman Shrine. In the spring the cherry trees are blooming here. They say there used to be the Shibuya Castle in this area protected by the Shibuya River. The lord of the castle was Shibuya Konnomaru, the hero of Shibuya in medieval age. This is a shrine dedicated to Shibuya Konnomaru. 

  Konno Hachiman Shrine

13.    This is a pond in Nezu Museum. The water from Minamiaoyama valley flowed into this pond and then made a big tributary of the Shibuya River
  A pond in Nezu Museum

14.    We can see the Rinsen park near Ebisu. ‘Hiroo Suisya’, the oldest water wheel in Shibuya, was here. The river continues to flow from Shibuya.

  The Rinsen Park

15.    This is a picture of Hiroshige at Shinohashi. The title is ‘Hiroo Furukawa’. In this area, the name of the Shibuya River was changed to the Furu River (Furukawa). This is how it looked 200 years ago. The two-storied house is said to be an eel restaurant. In Edo period plenty of eel might have swum in this river.

  Hiroshige at Shinohashi

16.    This is the present day of Shinohashi. The Furu River is under the high way.

  The present day of Shinohashi

17.    This is a pond in Happoen Garden. It was a part of ‘tributary', the Tamana River. The Tamana River started from another pond in upper place and went through Happoen Garden and Miyako Hotel and Kakurinji temple. And then flowed into the Furu River. In the garden of Miyako Hotel we can see a dry water way still now.

  Happoen Garden  

18.    This is Shiba Zojyouji Temple. This is dedicated to three Shoguns of Tokugawa.The Furu River flows under the foot of this site.

  Shiba Zojyouji Temple

19.    This is Daimon Gate. One of the tributaries was flowing in front of Daimon Gate.

  Daimon Gate

20.    In this Edo picture you can see the river flowing along the street in front of Daimon Gate. (Hiroshige, ‘Toutomeisyo Shiba Shinmei Zojyoji Zenzu’)

  Hiroshige at Shiba Zojyoji Temple

21.    We can see the fishing boats from Shogenbashi Bridge near Tamachi Station.

  Shogenbashi Bridge

22.    The Furu River flows into the Tokyo Bay at this place, Hamazakibashi Bridge. In the last picture, you can see the big cruise ship near International Hotel and Tokyo Bay. The Shibuya River (The Furu River) ends here near Yurikamome Station Takeshiba. From Shibuya it has been very narrow but here it widens to almost 80 m.

  The Shibuya River ending at Tokyo Bay


Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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Tokyo Union Church Women's Society 2/6/2005

This is a record of a little concert at TUCWS Summer Luncheon. We set up the program mainly with music created by musicians living in Shibuya. It featured the old Shibuya River hoping that foreign members of TUCWS, too, could know and love Shibuya natural features and culture much more.

'Dear Old Songs from Shibuya'
Soloist: Aiko Kurihara, Pianist: Yoshiko Kencyu, Narration: Kimiko Kajiyama

Hi ladies,

Thank you for coming. Now we officially start the music program “Dear Old Songs from Shibuya”. First I am very happy to introduce you to Aiko Kurihara, a beautiful soprano singer. Aiko graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and now gives many concerts. Today she sings songs. All of them have some meaning related to the Shibuya area or the Shibuya River.

First, Aiko sings 2 songs in Japanese with the feeling of this season. Imagine in the old days this place was so open and natural. Quite different from now. People lived with plants and birds and agriculture. The words say white uno-hana flower is in full bloom at the fence and a cuckoo sings his first song there and maidens plant young rice in paddy fields. It was a view of old Shibuya. The second song is Cradlesong, which was created by a composer who lived in Shibuya. You hear nen-neko repeatedly, which means sleep, baby, sleep. I hope you enjoy the music.

1.     Summer’s come

2.     Cradlesong

Thank you Aiko-san. They were very beautiful, weren’t they?

Now I am happy to tell you about old Shibuya River. Its length is almost 12 km from Shinjyuku gyoen to Tokyo Bay and half of it is a culvert now. It appears above the ground at Shibuya Station, outside the east exit with the banks covered with concrete. Now it is not a gorgeous river. Once it had many riverheads in the western Shibuya area.

A view of Shibuya River at JR Shibuya
Sta. from the bridge out of Southern

About 80 years ago, there were lots of hills and valleys west of Meiji Shrine and even pastures. You could hear moos rather than horns. There was a lot of open space where you could pick greens and play baseball among rice and crop fields. The next song “Balmy breeze”, picturing such a scene, was created by Kusakawa, Shin, a young violinist teaching at an elementary school in Shibuya in about 1920. He is the same composer of the Cradlesong which Aiko sang a few minites ago.

Well, there used to be a big pond here. You know, our place was right in the middle of a pond full of water. Are we now floating? No, it is not now, but in old times. Higuchisan said, he struggled with some underground water about 1 year ago. The water all of a sudden started to ooze out of the basement wall and made a puddle. He pumped the water out and made a little path for the water from outside the Fellowship Hall to the drain nearby. He doesn’t know the reason why, but we still now see some water coming from the soil. In the old times, in the Shibuya area, from here and there, much water sprang out. Not gold but water. However, in a sense, it meant a kind of money because the water raised crops and vegetables. Also it generated rather big power by water wheels. In the late 19th century, water power was very useful to polish rice and grind medicine and other uses.

A Mill at Onden” (Ukiyoe, from
KA Mill at Onden” (Ukiyoe, from
KATSUSHIKA Hokusai, the series of 36
Views of Mt. Fuji) ‘Onden’ was an old
name of  the vicinity of Jinguu-mae.
ATSUSHIKA Hokusai, the series of 36
Views of Mt. Fuji) ‘Onden’ was an old
name of  the vicinity of Jinguu-mae.

The picture is an ukiyoe of a water wheel by Katsusika, Hokusai. They say this water wheel was nearby, the exact place was not identified though. Anyway, it generated power and made this area rather advanced. It helped rice merchants very much and a part of the profit from water wheels was used to build and run their first elementary school in the Meiji era.The third is a water-wheel song. The song was created after World War 2 by a composer, Yoneyama, Masao who lived in this area. It got popularity by radio broadcasting.Water wheel turns all day long and polishes rice and grinds things.
Listen, “Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton”, is the turning sound.

3.     The water wheel in the woods of green

4.     A Balmy Breeze

There were wide rape blossoms
fields in Yoyogi-uehara

 Now I am very happy to introduce you to Yoshiko Kencyu, our pianist. She became a TUC Women’s Society member recently and is now hoping to share things with you. Please welcome Yoshiko. Thank you.

In the old times, the western part of Shibuya was called Yoyogi Ninety-nine valleys or Nishihara Ninety-nine valleys because of lay of the land. The hills were steep and the woods were deep. From one of them a spring flowed and the water gathered and became larger. Then it flowed into Shibuya River. At the upper part the banks used to be full of flowers and there were fish in spring time. There was one doctor who strolled everyday with his little grand daughter in the area. He created a pretty river song for her. It was very popular when spring came. Now fish grew a little bigger and greens are deep, because the season moved. But please listen to a song with sounds of sara-sara. Sara-sara is an expression of murmuring water.

5.A little brook in Spring time (Sung by Kimiko Kajiyama)

Now Aiko sings the last song which describes a beauty of la Seine.

Under the sky of Paris, you hear a chanson by lovers. Philosophers sit under the Bercy bridge and musicians play the accordions. Under the sky of Paris the river flows with joyful air. The sky color is its secret of the blue dress…

Hoping Shibuya River becomes as beautiful as la Seine, Aiko sings the song “Sous le ciel de Paris”.

6. Sous le ciel de Paris 

Encore song was 'Summer's come'. We sang the song together and were very happy. (The End) 

Music Words

A Little Brook in Springtime (春の小川)
(Word: TAKANO, Tatsuyuki, Composer: OKANO,Teiichi) 

1. Flows a little brook in springtime, sara-sara nagaru

Saying to flowers, “What nice blooms!” violets blooming on the banks

Saying to renge you have such graceful figures with good hues

“Flowers, now time, bloom and smell,” murmuring, warbling, whispering, it flows.

2. Flows a little brook in springtime, sara-sara nagaru

Saying to shrimp and medaka, “Now staaay all day in the sun.”

Saying to fish “Play all together, and amuse yourself in swim in a school”

Flows a little brook in springtime whispering to fish it’s time for fun.

Haru no ogawa (A Little Brook in Springtime in Japanese)

1. Haru no ogawa wa sara sara nagaru

Kishi no sumire ya renge no hana ni

Nioi medetaku iro utsukushiku

Sakeyo sakeyo to sasayaku-gotoku

2. Haru no ogawa wa sara sara nagaru

Ebi ya medaka ya kobuna no mure ni

Kyoo mo ichinichi hinata de oyogi

Asobe, asobe to sasayaku-gotoku

A Balmy Breeze(みどりのそよかぜ)
(Word: SHIMIZU, Katsura, Composer: KUSAKAWA, Shin)                 

1. Comes a balmy breeze o’ er fields of green,what a wonderful day !

Butterflies dance over the fields

Come out flow’rs of bean

In the rainbow colored field, Sister picks soft greens

Lovely hands, I see at distance standing in a breeze

2. Comes a balmy breeze o’ er fields of green, what a wonderful day !

Strike I got when I pitch a ball

How well did I play !

Now, my turn to hit the ball, slide to second base

Safe! Being on the base, I wipe the sweat off my face

Midori no soyokaze(A Balmy Breeze in Japanese)

1. Midori no soyokaze iihi dane

Tyotyo mo hirahira mame no hana

Nanairo batake ni imooto no

Tsumami-na tsumu te ga kawaii na

2. Midori no soyokaze iihi dane

booru ga pon-pon sutoraiku

Utaserya nirui no suberikomi

seefu da odeko no ase wo fuku

The water wheel in the woods of green (森の水車)
(Word: SHIMIZU, Minoru, Composer: YONEYAMA, Masao)                 

1. You can hear a merry song from far woods of green

Water wheel is, turning round, singing all day long

Lively sound is in the air, cheering you up

Listen to his merry music, what he does ever mean?


Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton

Fa mi le do si do re mi fa

Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton

Work hard all day long 

Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton

I know comes a day

Happy, wonderful, springy day soon comes along


2. Turns and sings the water wheel, beyond the woods of green

Keeping time with powder mill, sings a merry song

Even through a rainy day or all windy night

In a happy way he keeps singing his joy song


Mori-no-suisha(The water wheel in the woods of green in Japanese) 

1.  Midori-no-mori no kanata kara

Yooki na uta ga kikoemasu

Are wa suisha no mawaru oto

Mimi wo sumasete okikinasai


Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton

Fa mi le do si do re mi fa

Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton

Shigoto ni hagemimasyo

Koto-koto-kotton, koto-koto-kotton

Itsu-no-hi ka tanoshii haru ga

Yatte kuru


2.  Ame-no-furu-hi mo kaze-no-hi mo

Mori-no-suisha wa yasuminaku

Konahiki-usu no hyooshi tori

Yukai ni uta wo tsuzukemasu


(The End)                                             (English by Kimiko Kajiyama)

Copyright © 2014 Kimiko Kajiyama All Rights ReservedA