Translated into English by Ms. Asami Masui

Meiji period (1868-1912)

Niihori village from an old map of Tokyo
created by Geographic Bureau of
Ministry of Home Affairs in 1878 (Meiji 11)
Suwa Terrace ( Suwadai ), which had been favored as a noted spot in the Edo era, started to change since the Meiji era. On those affairs in the Meiji era, Hiratsuka Syunzou's "Higurasi no oka" is a well informed booklet.

On 1881 (Meiji 14), Japan Railway ( the forerunner of Tohoku Line of Japan National Railway) purchased the land under the cliff of eastern part of the terrace, when the railway was opened to traffic. The precincts of Jyoukouji Temple was divided in half by the railway. The railway company purchased part of Hongyouji Temple, under the cliff of that was the resident of Souemon Tamiya. It is said that cedar forest grew to block the west sunlight and water was springing out, so ginger plants ( famous as Yanaka ginger ) were sprouting and many fireflies were flying about.

Meanwhile, in the western part of Suwa Terrace, a hill side which held a Fujimizaka slope was also torn down and turned into a cliff, due to a different reason in the Meiji era. Because of an anti-Buddhist movement of throwing out Buddha and overthrowing Shakyamuni (haibutsu-kishaku), temples everywhere were losing supporters ( danka ) and falling in financial difficulties. So temples had no other option than to sell the precincts. Myouryuuji temple was a representative. We can find Myouryuuji temple in the map of 1878 ( Meiji 11) on the right, but it does not exist now. It was the Nippori village who was in possession of all the grounds of Myouryuuji temple, so selling the land would normally be inexcusable. But the earth that was cut away was used to fill up the outsides of the Shinobazu pond.

On 1885 (Meiji 18), Fujimizaka slope moved its position about twenty meters southward to where it is now, as a result of cutting through the hill. Because of it, the circumference of Fuijmizaka slope was never the same. The slope, which was lacking a name in the beginning was called Tatamizaka because there was a tatami shop downhill, Skeleton slope because a skeleton was found underground, and Myouryuuji slope because it led to Myouryuuji. According to Hiratsuka, the name "Fujimizaka" was not used yet, so it must have been late in the Meiji era when the named was in full use. On the flat land which was formed after the hill was cut through, "Musical Exercise School for Girls" was founded around 1901-1902, but management did not succeed so it was laid aside. Later, after being a play house called "Hanamiza", "Hanamidera Film Studio" (forerunner of Nikkatsu Corporation) was made. The rest of the land were sold in lots and made into houses, but the slope was still cut through even after that, and caused a landslide twice. The earth that was dug up was used to fill up rice fields and to make the Shinobazu street.

The following statements by Hiratsuka are about Suwa Shrine in the latter term of the Meiji era. "The present lookout point inside the precincts used to be the resident of the chief priest of a Shinto shrine. Those days there were three tea stalls sheltered with reed screens, and the streets were crowded with people who enjoy the cool evening breeze in spring and summer, and who wait for the moon in autumn. The sweeping breeze was cool, and summer was the most crowded season." Even in those days, the cites famous for its cherry blossoms since the Edo era was still alive, and in the cherry blossom season, tourists hustled and bustled along the ridge road from Ueno to Asukayama. The Nippori elementary school which was standing side the road, had difficulty proceeding class. Quoting Hiratsuka's booklet again, "Mt. Tsukuba is a hazy blue to the east, and the whole field under one's eyes is dyed yellow and red by dandelion and Chinese milk vetch flowers in spring. White sails go to and fro the Senzyu river, and if you look behind, there is Mt.Fuji." Such a scene was still seen from Suwa shrine. When the Arakawa river became a little swollen, the water was seen to twinkle brightly, so it must have been the same grand landscape as in the Edo era. In those days the foot of Fuzimizaka slope ( presently Nezu and Sendagi area) was still mostly rural districts with farm houses standing here and there.

From the early Taisho era to Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, under the influence of release of residential land from the nobility propertied class (Kazoku ), a cultural town-making was done there. Nippori Watanabe town was made by Watanabe Preserve Company in Dokanyama (the present Nippori 4-choume) and many cultured persons like artists lived here. Starting from this time, the towns rising at the foot of Fuzimizaka slope such as Yanaka Hatsune-cho and Sendagi sakashita-cho were turned into residential area gradually.

After that, without seeing any big changes during the Showa mid-war and post war period, Suwa Terrace was to reach the period of economic high growth.

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