Asian Geographic

Revisiting the Samurai



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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