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Tokyo: Exploring the City of the Shogun

tokyo exploring the city of the shogun

This beautiful book is actually many books in one. Tokyo: Exploring the City of the Shogun is a coffee table book, large with marvelous photography on every page. It’s also a guidebook, with maps and suggested routes for exploring historic neighborhoods in Tokyo. Finally, it is a work on the history of Japan–the Kanto (Tokyo, Edo) region in particular.

Each of the “chapters” includes a “Then” and “Now” section which explain what the area was like hundreds of years ago, how it has changed, and what you can expect to see and what to look for now.

I read a very similar book, Kyoto: Seven Paths to The Heart of The City, before we went to Kyoto two years ago. The maps appear much better in this one, but I haven’t actually tried them out yet. I will let you know how they are in a few months after following a few. This Tokyo version seems to be an improvement on the Kyoto version in every way.

Like the Kyoto book, the Tokyo edition includes seven tours of areas to explore on foot. They are:

Nihonbashi & Ningyocho: The heart of the old city
Ryogoku & Asakusa-bashi: The sumo quarters and environs
Fukagawa: In the footsteps of the haiku poet Basho
Tsukiji & Higashi Ginza: Fish, kabuki, and more fish
Atagoyama & Shiba: Samurai feats and traces of shoguns past
Asakusa: A classic temple district, with shops and festivities
Yanaka & Nezu: Strolling through a traditional Tokyo neighborhood

There is also one on the Imperial Palace and the surrounding grounds so I suppose there are eight in all rather than just seven.

Both the Kyoto and Tokyo books are problematic in one way however. They both do too much. What I mean by that is who wants to take a large picture book on a walk with them? My suggestion is to read this book before and after your walk. Make a photocopy of the map and directions for the walk itself though and bring only your photocopy along.

Should the publisher update these books in the future my suggestion would be to turn the publication into two books sold together–a large picture book with the history and background provided and then include a little, 7-page, pull-out book with the maps and directions to bring along on the walks.

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