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228 × 180 × 20 mm
240 pages
110 illustrations, 105 in colour
14 Sep 2020
  • £25.00

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Tokyo Before Tokyo Power and Magic in the Shogun’s City of Edo Timon Screech

Tokyo today is one of the world’s mega-cities, and the centre of a scintillating, hyper-modern culture – but not everyone is aware of its past. Founded in 1590 as the seat of the warlord Tokugawa family, Tokyo, then called ‘Edo’, was the locus of Japanese trade, economics and urban civilization until 1868, when it mutated into Tokyo and became Japan’s modern capital.

This beautifully illustrated book presents important sites and features from the rich history of Edo, drawn from contemporary sources such as diaries, guidebooks and woodblock prints. These include the huge bridge on which the city was centred, the vast castle of the shogun, sumptuous Buddhist temples, bars, kabuki theatres and the Yoshiwara, Edo’s famous red-light district.

‘In this beguiling and splendidly illustrated volume, Screech brings to the page an array of fascinating narrative insights that not only tell the story of the shogun’s capital but also set it in the broader context of Japanese cultural history, with its extensive ties to the Chinese world, and even beyond, to Europe.’ — Dr Paul Waley, University of Leeds, co-editor of Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective: Place, Power and Memory in Kyoto, Edo and Tokyo

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Timon Screech is Professor in the History of Art at SOAS, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of many books, including Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan, 1700–1820 (2nd edn, Reaktion, 2009).


1 The Ideal City
2 The Centre of the Shogun’s Realm
3 Edo as Sacred Space
4 Reading Edo Castle
5 The City’s Poetic Presence
6 A Trip to the Yoshiwara

Epilogue: From Edo to Tokyo

Selected Sources and Further Reading
General Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements