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Megacity One

Jordan Sand: Life in Edo, 3 June 2021

Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Woman’s Life in 19th-Century Japan 
by Amy Stanley.
Chatto, 352 pp., £9.99, July 2020, 978 1 78470 230 4
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Tokyo before Tokyo: Power and Magic in the Shogun’s City of Edo 
by Timon Screech.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £25, September 2020, 978 1 78914 233 4
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... Japanese, read Dutch, draw, sing, put on [their] coats, then take them off again’. It was, as Timon Screech writes, ‘an anthropological exercise’. The encounter belongs to a long history of mutual ethnography between Easterners and Westerners.Although we are lacking European accounts, the people of Edo themselves left a rich archive. The city had ...

A Smaller Island

Matthew Reynolds: David Mitchell, 10 June 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 469 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 0 340 92156 2
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... middle of the book is the more disheartening for being surrounded by such an innovative frame. As Timon Screech, a scholar of the Tokugawa era, has put it, the ‘Euro-Japanese interaction’ that happened via Dejima ‘represents a genuinely unique case study in almost egalitarian cultural collision’. At the beginning and end of The Thousand Autumns ...

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