Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake: how the shogun's ancient capital became a great modern city, 1867-1923

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9780674539396: Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake: how the shogun's ancient capital became a great modern city, 1867-1923

This book looks at the metamorphosis of Japan from a country with little contact with the outside world to one brimming with Western ideas and technologies. Seidensticker focuses on Tokyo in the years between the Meiji Restoration and the earthquake of 1923 to illustrate this change. He shows how Tokyo, which was called Edo until 1867, emerged from being the shogun's capital and the biggest city in a country which had been closed to the outside world for two and a half centuries, to a modern city, open to Western ideas.

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Review:

Engagingly written. A stylist of great attainments, Seidensticker has a nice way with an aphorism, and his prose is studded with observations that linger in the memory...[Low City, High City] is an uncommonly perceptive and revealing analysis of the Westernization or modernization of Japan...[It] illuminates the extraordinary metamorphosis of Japan over the last 125 years more effectively and pleasurably than many books that have tackled the theme head on. (Robert C. Christopher New York Times Book Review)

I cannot imagine a finer work on the subject nor a more knowledgeable guide. Nor one more imbued with that special feeling which this city ideally calls forth...The century has seen an incredible amount of change and it is this upon which we ought properly to focus. Seidensticker gives us example after example in this rich, generous, overflowing book...What an enchanting book this is. (Donald Richie Japan Times)

Seidensticker has admirably re-created the vibrant, even tumultuous, spirit of those days when kimonos, parasols, and topknots were first traded for trousers, derby hats, and horn-rimmed glasses. (Wilson Quarterly)

Reading the narrative--precise, insightful, ambivalent--is rather like wandering, with the delights of recognition. (Kirkus Reviews)

It is a story...less of revolution and disaster than of the 'little things'...which only adds to the engrossing texture of this elegiac prose tour of a Tokyo lost. (Bloomsbury Review)

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Seidensticker, Edward
Published by Harvard University Press (1991)
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