Myth Trivia: Japan, Rock and Roll and Old English Words

Our trivia lesson for today is as eclectic as it gets with obscure tidbits of information from every nook and cranny of uselessness.


CHARLOTTE, NC, October 7, 2015 – Our trivia lesson for today is as eclectic as it gets with obscure tidbits of information from every nook and cranny of uselessness.

1 – Where did Tokyo get its name: This is one of those surprisingly perfect little trivia items that seem obvious when you know it, but would never have thought of yourself.

The capital city of Japan, as most of us know, is Tokyo, but what you probably did not know is that it was once called “Tōkei.” Tokyo became the imperial capital in 1868, and in keeping with an Eastern Asian tradition it became “Tokyo” because the letter “O” was included in the word for “capital.”

Tokyo from the Mori Tower
Tokyo from the Mori Tower

Until its name was changed, Tokyo was called “Edo”, which in Japanese means “estuary.”

So far, so good, but this is where the story gets interesting.

For more than a thousand years the capital of Japan was Kyoto from 794 until 1868. Japan itself is comprised of four islands with Kyoto roughly situated in the central part the main island of Honshu.

In Japanese the word “kyo” means capital, while the word “to” translates to east(ern). Thus, “Kyoto” basically means “capital of the east.” Today Kyoto, which is nicknamed the “City of Ten Thousand Shrines”, remains the capital city of the Kyoto Prefecture.

When Tokyo became the Japanese capital in 1868, changing its name from Edo, it was simply a matter of transliterating the words “Kyo” and “To” from Kyoto into “Tokyo.”

There you have it. Tokyo simply means “eastern capital” which is derived by switching two Japanese words from their original order.

Bully. ‘Twas a capital idea.

2 – Buddy Holly and “American Pie”: Veteran music lovers born before the 1970s probably already know this, but generations that followed may not even recognize the name Buddy Holly.

In February of 1959 three rock and roll legends were killed in a plane crash. Along with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) was Buddy Holly who was portrayed by recently ousted Dancing With The Stars celebrity Gary Busey in the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story. Busey received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance.

buddy-holly-finger-snapsAmong Holly’s biggest hits, of which there were many, was a song called Peggy Sue.

In 1971, folk rock singer/songwriter Don McLean recorded an album called American Pie with the title song by the same name. The single recording was a number-one hit in the U.S. for four weeks, and was said to be a tribute to Holly and his fellow musicians.

Once released however, questions arose about the significance of the lyrics which included the words “The day the music died” and the phrase “So bye-bye Miss American Pie, Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry.”

One theory was that “American Pie” was the name of the plane in which Holly and his colleagues were flying when it crashed. McClean, who promised to reveal the meaning of his words this year on the 50th anniversary of the disaster, said

“Basically in American Pie things are heading in the wrong direction. … It (life) is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.”

McLean eventually sold the lyrics at auction for 1.2 million dollars. A tidy sum that will buy a lot of American Pie, even today.

3 – Sitting Tall in the Staddle: You probably never heard this word because it comes from Middle English that is derived from Old English meaning “a foundation, support or trunk of a tree.”

“Staddle stones” had a practical use in earlier times as mushroom shaped stones that supported granaries to protect the grain from vermin and water seepage. Staddles could also be designed without their mushroom tops, but, either way, they still elevated the building as a means of protection.

Though the word has fallen out of common practice, some of the old granary buildings remain and can be found primarily in England and Northern Spain.

staddle-stonesOne interesting sidebar to this story is another definition of the word “staddle” suggested by the folks at the Mental Floss website. According to their research, a “staddle” is the little depression you leave in your bed after you have been lying there all night.

First impression or depression, take your pick, that’s our trivia for today.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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