When you come to Japan for the first time, you notice that names of a good number of train stations start with Shin (しん [新] ). Some of these stations include Shin-Yokohama, Shin-Kawasaki, Shin-Okubo, Shin-Osaka etc. After a few Japanese lessons, you get to understand that “Shin” means “new”. In other words, Shin-Yokohama Station means “New” Yokohama Station.
Apart from “Shin”, I have noticed another naming pattern which is unique to the Tokyo-Kawasaki area. There are a number of train stations in this area which start with Musashi (むさし[武蔵]). The first Musashi station, that I got to know once I came to Japan, is the Musashi-Koyama station (むさしこやま[武蔵小山駅]) on the Meguro Line in Shinagawa-ku. I went there for a home visit at the Yoshikawas some time in June last year. This was one of the many home visits organized by the Meguro International Friendship Association (MIFA) for international students studying at Universities in the Meguro ward. Kumi Kamimura and company are really doing a good work for us at MIFA.
One day while traveling on the Toyoko line from Shibuya to Yokohama, I found my second Musashi station – the Musashi-Kosugi station (むさしこすぎ[武蔵小杉駅]). After that, I discovered that, apart from the Musashi-Kosugi station, there are three more Musashi stations on the Nambu line (なんぶせん [南武線]): Musashi-Nakahara (むさしなかはら [武蔵中原]), Musahi-Shinjo (むさししんじょ[武蔵新城]) and Musashi-Mizonukuchi(むさしみぞのくち[武蔵溝ノ口]). Because this word is very similar to “mukashi” which means “former” or “olden days”, I thought that probably they deliberately replaced “k” with “s” on purpose; otherwise the meaning is just the same. But to avoid guess work, I resorted to finding out the meaning of “musashi” from a number of Japanese people. Surpringly, a good number of them could not give a clear explanation. But for those who did, their answers were very consistent. Musashi was a province of Japan, which today comprises Tokyo prefecture, most of Saitama Prefecture and part of Kanagawa Prefecture, mainly Kawasaki and Yokohama. Japan Times and Wikipedia also confirm this. So yes, Musashi is mukasi rando (land).