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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tokyo: Exploring the City of the Shogun by Sumiko Enbutsu, Katsuhito Nakazato (Photographer)

Paperback: 68 pages
Publisher: Kodansha International (June 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 4770030339
Price: $ 24.95

I have a friend who grew up in Japan and we have spent hours swapping military brat stories, my own of Spain for hers of Japan. I was fascinated by the images her words brought to mind and I have wanted to visit Japan ever since. But living in a foreign country is completely different from spending a few days there. It can be hard to see and do all the things you would like to but a good guide can help you make decisions.

Tokyo, though very modern and efficient, is an old city. Founded by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 it was first called Edo but was renamed Tokyo in 1868. Tokyo is full of history, having been the center of government, business, and culture for over four hundred years. Exploring the City of the Shogun was designed for the ‘non-Japanese speaking residents and visitors to explore this complex mega-city on their own’ focusing on the historical aspects.

The first thing I noticed about this book is the beautiful photographs taken by Katsuhito Nakazato. Deserted graceful stone bridges, a shelf full of glass bottles containing a rainbow of pigments, or a crowded shopping street; each photograph is lovely.

The book is divided into eight different walks that focus on the Edo period of Tokyo. There is a map of the walk detailing the route which includes the names of buildings and landmarks in English and Japanese forms. As well as the closest station entrance, estimated time of the walk, and estimated distance. It is all rounded out with the interesting history of the area.

The walking directions given seem very detailed and clear. I can’t vouch for them myself since I have not traveled to Tokyo yet but you are given easy landmarks; restaurants with the opening and closing times are included and souvenir shops with a recommendation to visit on monthly fair days. The writing is fresh and always interesting, pointing out landmarks or bring to your attention an over looked shop.

I was very impressed with this walking guide. It has wonderful photographs, key details about the places to visit including the history of the place which really brings what you are seeing to life. How else would you know that one building survived a fire but its neighbor was rebuilt in the 1920’s?

I want to visit Japan more than ever now that I have read Exploring the City of the Shogun; and I know exactly which book I’ll be taking with me for the journey

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