A Short History of Tokyo


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Tokyo, the ‘Eastern Capital’, has only enjoyed that name and status for 150 years. Before then, it was Edo, a sprawling town by the bay. Earlier still, it was Edojuku, a medieval outpost overlooking farmlands. And, thousands of years ago, its mudflats and marshes were hometo elephants, deer and marine life. Jonathan Clements traces Tokyo’s fascinating history from the first forest clearances and the samurai wars to the hedonistic ‘floating world’ era – and onwards to the twentieth century with its destruction and redevelopment, boom and bust. So entwined is Tokyo with the history of Japan that it can be hard to separate them – its position at the nexus of power and people for over a thousand years has made it crucial to the events of the whole country.

About the Author

Jonathan Clements is a British author, novelist, and scriptwriter. His numerous books about Japan include A Brief History of the Samurai, Modern Japan: All That Matters, and biographies of Admiral Togo and Prince Saionji.


"Clements' skillset--Asian specialist, linguist, historian and foodie--might have been designed specifically for his newly published Armchair Traveller's History of Tokyo, combining as it does a history of the city from a time of myth, conjecture and hazy record to the current year 2018 with a gazetteer containing a selection of the sights and attractions of the city."--Helen McCarthy, author of All the Anime

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