Japan in Focus / Why isn’t Toshimaen in Toshima Ward?

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Hydropolis water slide, which was built on the former site of Nerima Castle

By Rie Hayashi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer The Toshimaen amusement park’s address is 3-25-1 Koyama, Nerima Ward, Tokyo. Its name includes “Toshima,” so why isn’t it located in Toshima Ward instead of Nerima Ward?

“That’s because the name comes from the Toshima clan, which ruled the area surrounding the park for a long time,” said Yasuyo Miyauchi, 33, Toshimaen’s official in charge of public relations.

The Toshima clan ruled the northwestern part of the area now covered by Tokyo’s 23 wards, such as Nerima and Kita wards, from the end of the Heian period (794 to the late 12th century) to the Muromachi period (early 14th century to late 16th century).

Toshimaen dates back to 1926. Businessman Kozaburo Fujita, who owned the former site of Nerima Castle established by the Toshima clan, opened it to the public as an amusement park to encourage exercise and gardening.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

Its original name was Nerima Joshi Toshimaen (former Nerima Castle site Toshimaen).

The Nerima Shakujiikoen Furusato Museum’ prospectus for establishing the amusement park reads, “In the past, this site was home to a castle where [warlord] Toshima Sakon Taifu Kagemura resided, and so the amusement park was named after the connection.”

At that time, the park was located in Kaminerima village, Kitatoshima county. The county was merged into Tokyo city in 1932, becoming part of Itabashi Ward.

In 1947, Nerima Ward was split off from Itabashi Ward, and Toshimaen took up its current address.

Don’t run after money

Why did Kozaburo Fujita give the amusement park the name of the Toshima clan? Since he owned the site, he could have named it “Fujita-en.”

Local history researcher Akihiko Katsuragi, 54, provided an answer. The prospectus stipulates the slogan of the amusement park — “Do not run after profit, engage in vulgarity or damage scenic beauty.”

“As the slogan says, Fujita did not seem to pursue profit or try to increase his fame,” Katsuragi said.

“Although it was an amusement park, the fact that it was a park at the former site of Nerima Castle was important,” Katsuragi added. A look at historical materials issued around the time of the opening of the amusement park reveals that the earthwork indicating the existence of a castle was retained.

The amusement park also has athletic tracks, a pool, greenhouses and flowerbeds, making it look like a large park rather than an amusement park.

“The high profile of the Toshima clan could be another reason why Fujita gave it that name,” Katsuragi said.

A serial novel in a newspaper about a beautiful princess who drowned herself in sorrow over the downfall of the Toshima clan was very popular at that time, creating a Toshima clan boom from the late Meiji era (1868-1912), according to Katsuragi.

“This was the site of Nerima Castle, where the Toshima clan lived,” Katsuragi said while looking at the Hydropolis, a water slide that is very popular in summer. The water slide is located on high ground, and there are stairs to the entrance. High ground is good for building castles, as enemies can be repelled from that position.

However, the Toshima clan was attacked in 1477 in the Muromachi period by Ota Dokan, a military commander who established Edo Castle, and fell in the following year. The Toshima clan ceased to exist 540 years ago, but its name has remained in the amusement park and is familiar to many people. Speech

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