52 Tokyo Before Tokyo: Exploring Edo w. Dr. Timon Screech


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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, we're talking about the history and layout of Edo with one of the world's foremost experts on the subject: Dr. Timon Screech.

About Dr. Timon Screech

Dr. Timon Screech is a professor of the history of art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is a specialist in the art and culture of the Edo period and has written extensively on the subject. His most recent book is titled Tokyo Before Tokyo: Power and Magic in the Shogun's City (Reaktion Books).

Topics Discussed
  • The story behind Dr. Screech's latest book Tokyo Before Tokyo: Power and Magic in the Shogun's City of Edo
  • The history of Nihonbashi (日本橋) in Tokyo
  • Nihonbashi as the city center of Edo
  • The possible etymological origin of Nihonbashi
  • What was in and around the original Nihonbashi bridge when it was built
  • Nihonbashi's status as the start of the famous Tokaido highway
  • The mountainous geography of Japan and how it made it challenging to keep the country united
  • Edo era maps, their evolution, and how reliable they were
  • Why certain areas of Edo's maps were often blocked out
  • Early Edo Period maps and how usable they would have been
  • The extensive documentation of urban ephemera of the Edo Period
  • How folding screens intended for the elite would depict areas of Edo that commoners were not supposed to be able to see
  • The amusing story of the peculiar way Emperor Go-Mizunoo is said to have had his portrait paited
  • Portrait drawing customs in Japan versus the West
  • The official name of Edo Castle
  • Why Edo Castle was officially names Chiyoda Castle
  • The location of Edo Castle
  • The Shogunate's decision to not choose Kamakura as their base of power
  • About the destruction of Chiyoda Castle/Edo Castle and reasons for why it was never reconstructed
  • The recently restored paintings of Kyoto's Nijo Castle
  • Edo's 40 meter tall Buddha made of wicker (Kappa Ōbotoke)
  • Dr. Timon Screech's recommendations for temples to visit in Tokyo
  • The story of the Octopus Medicine Buddha at Tako Yakushi Jōjuin Temple in Meguro
  • The Temple of the 500 Arhats in Meguro (Gohyaku Rakanji)
  • The deification of Tokugawa Ieyasu
  • How Tokugawa Ieyasu's body was moved a year after his death
  • Disagreement over where Tokugawa Ieyasu's body is today
  • And much more!
Support on Patreon

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Links, Videos, Etc.

You can use the link below to purchase Tokyo Before Tokyo: Power and Magic in the Shogun's City of Edo on Amazon. The link is an Amazon affiliate link so using it will support the show without costing you anything extra.

You can use the Amazon affiliate link below to purchase The Shogun's Silver Telescope and the Cargo of the New Year's Gift: God, Art, and Money in the English Quest for Japan, 1600-1625.

To listen to the latest episode of Ichimon Japan, use the link below.

And here are the two episodes of Japan Station mentioned at the end of this episode.

If you would like to check out the Kimito Designs shop, then use the link below. Remember to use the coupon code OPENING10 when you check out to get 10% off (valid until the end of 2020).

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi) To listen to more of Yunomi's music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Dr. Timon Screech

Featured image: Courtesy of Dr. Timon Screech

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