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Portraits of Edo and Early Modern Japan

The Shogun’s Capital in Zuihitsu Writings, 1657–1855


About this book


This volume presents a series of five portraits of Edo, the central region of urban space today known as Tokyo, from the great fire of 1657 to the devastating earthquake of 1855. This book endeavors to allow Edo, or at least some of the voices that constituted Edo, to do most of the speaking.  These voices become audible in the work of five Japanese eye-witness observers, who notated what they saw, heard, felt, tasted, experienced, and remembered.  “An Eastern Stirrup,” presents a vivid portrait of the great conflagration of 1657 that nearly wiped out the city.  “Tales of Long Long Ago,” details seventeenth-century warrior-class ways as depicted by a particularly conservative samurai.  “The River of Time,” describes the city and its flourishing cultural and economic development during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. “The Spider’s Reel” looks back at both the attainments and calamities of Edo in the 1780s.  Finally, “Disaster Days,” offers a meticulous account of Edo life among the ruins of the catastrophic 1855 tremor.  Read in sequence, these five pieces offer a unique “insider’s perspective” on the city of Edo and early modern Japan.



Edo and Early Tokyo Early Modern Japanese History and Culture Zuihitsu and Japanese Culture Edo-period Society “Meireki Fire” (Edo Fire of 1657) Edo Earthquake of 1855 Eye-witness Reports of Edo

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of YamanashiKōfuJapan

About the authors

Gerald Groemer is Professor of Japanese and Western Musicology at the University of Yamanashi in Kōfu, Japan. His previous books, both in Japanese and in English, have treated chiefly early modern Japanese culture, especially street performers and blind itinerant musicians.  He has been awarded the Tanabe Prize twice for his Japanese-language monographs and the Koziumi Fumio Prize for his lifetime achievement.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Portraits of Edo and Early Modern Japan
  • Book Subtitle The Shogun’s Capital in Zuihitsu Writings, 1657–1855
  • Authors Gerald Groemer
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-13-7375-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-981-13-7378-7
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-13-7376-3
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXIX, 372
  • Number of Illustrations 109 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Japan
    Asian Literature
    Urban History
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