Edo, the City that Became Tokyo: An Illustrated History

Front Cover
Kodansha International, 2003 - Travel - 211 pages
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From 1603 to 1868, the city of Edo was the seat of power of the Tokugawa shogunate and the political center of Japan. In 1868 the city was renamed Tokyo and made the official capital of the nation. Both literally and figuratively, present-day Tokyo rests upon the foundations of Edo, and much of what is now thought of as traditional Japanese culture (woodblock prints, kabuki, sumo, haiku poets) found its final form in Edo. In this book, through over 200 black and white drawings and insightful text, old Edo is brought vividly to life--its planning, its construction, and the cultural energy that made it one of the most exciting, and populous, cities on the face of the earth.

Edo was nothing more than a village on the edge of Edo Bay when Ieyasu Tokugawa chose it as the site for a castle from which he, as shogun, could administer the country. The castle was of utmost importance because Japan had just emerged from a hundred years of civil war, and Ieyasu was determined that the power he had gained should not be wrested from him by antagonistic warlords. The castle, of course, had to be supplied with the necessities of everyday life, and thus a town had to be build where merchants and artisans could live. It is the planning and construction of Edo Castle and the town that would support it that lie at the core of this book. In fact, the construction of the city would be an ongoing process throughout its 260-year history, in the wake of repeated devastation by fire and earthquake and under the pressure of an ever-expanding population.
Another aspect of the book concerns Edo's cultural life, which moved over time from classical modes dominated by the samurai to the more popular and lively forms favored by the merchants and artisans. Featured here are temples and shrines, festivals, bath houses, pleasure quarters, kabuki theaters, street gangs, the poet Basho, sumo wrestling, side shows, ukiyo-e prints, barbers, and much more.

Each page of the main text of the book is illustrated, and it is this combination that makes the book both a reading and a visual delight.

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Review: EDO, the City That Became Tokyo: An Illustrated History

User Review  - Alistair - Goodreads

Borrowed it from my local library in Koto-ku squeezed in among the translations of local crime writer, Miyuki Miyabe and Jeffrey Archer books that comprise our English language section. Accessible and ... Read full review

References to this book

About the author (2003)


Akira Naito is Japan's most widely recognized architectural historian. He is the author of Katsura: A Princely Retreat.
Kazuo Hozumi is known for his illustrations in What Is Japanese Architecture?: A Survey of Traditional Japanese Architecture.

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