The Bells of Old Tokyo: Travels in Japanese Time
As read on BBC Radio 4 'Book of the Week'
Shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award
Longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize
'Sherman’s is a special book. Every sentence, every thought she has, every question she asks, every detail she notices, offers something. The Bells of Old Tokyo is a gift . . . It is a masterpiece.' - The Spectator
A hauntingly original book about Tokyo and the Japanese relationship to time, memory and history.
For over 300 years, Japan closed itself to outsiders, developing a remarkable and unique culture. During its period of isolation, the inhabitants of the city of Edo, later known as Tokyo, relied on its public bells to tell the time.
In her remarkable book, Anna Sherman tells of her search for the bells of Edo, exploring the city of Tokyo and its inhabitants and the individual and particular relationship of Japanese culture - and the Japanese language - to time, tradition, memory, impermanence and history.
Through Sherman’s journeys around the city, The Bells of Old Tokyo presents a series of hauntingly memorable voices in the labyrinth of the Japanese capital: An aristocrat plays in the sea of ashes left by the Allied firebombing of 1945. A scientist builds the most accurate clock in the world, a clock that will not lose a second in five billion years. A sculptor eats his father’s ashes while the head of the house of Tokugawa reflects on the destruction of his grandfather’s city.
'This mesmerising cultural history explores the neighbourhoods where Tokyo's bells once rang . . . As our own locked-down days squeeze and elongate, Tokyo time feels strangely familiar.’ - Daily Telegraph
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