Re­vis­it­ing the Sa­mu­rai

Asian Geographic - - BEST OF CULTURE -


No.120 Is­sue 5/2016


The lan­guages of Edo


So­phie Ib­bot­son Today it is Tokyo but once, many life­times ago, the same city was Edo, the im­pe­rial cap­i­tal of Ja­pan. Amidst the marks of moder­nity – the sky­scrapers, the fly­overs and the neon signs – are hid­den hints of a world many think is lost, but which is just wait­ing for the ea­gle-eyed to dis­cover. To­gether with Sa­toko Hi­rakawa, my walk­ing tours guide, I stand upon the Ni­hon­bashi Bridge, look­ing in the di­rec­tion of Mount Fuji. High-rise build­ings now ob­scure the view, but as an an­cient mile­stone by our side shows, this was once point zero on the map. In Europe, they say all roads lead to Rome; here in Ja­pan, it was Edo that was the cen­tral hub of the wheel. The cal­lig­ra­phy, cut into dark grey gran­ite, was still crys­tal clear de­spite the cen­turies that had passed since its carv­ing.

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