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Literally meaning "lower town" or "downtown", during the Edo period shitamachi described all districts lower than Edo castle, by opposition to Yamanote (R̎) or "upper town" (note the name of the JR Yamanote line which encircles the Imperial palace or former Edo castle).

Shitamachi encompasses the old districts of Tokyo, such as Asakusa, Shitaya (Ueno), Honjo, Kanda, Nihombashi, Kyobashi and Fukagawa.

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