The Bells of Old Tokyo. by Anna Sherman

Staff Pick

Sherman, an American who lived in Tokyo for several years, describes the city as “one vast timepiece,” but on the evidence of her captivating memoir, it’s more of a living diorama, exhibiting the various ways time has been kept—and told—throughout the metropolis’s long history. During the centuries Tokyo was Edo, its rulers marked time with the daily tolling of nine bells, and Sherman has organized her book around a search for these relics. As she visits the various temples, castles, and other sites—such as a notorious prison—where the bells were once struck, she builds a rich narrative of cultural history that encompasses Eastern and Western notions of power, wealth, art, and, in the moving sections about the 1945 firebombing, war. Her prose is spare and lyrical—a perfect setting for an exploration of mutability that ranges from the shoguns’ mythic origins to the apportioning of hours by the animals of the zodiac, from clocks meant to be “more than just a machine” to atomic lattice clocks “accurate to within a second of the birth of the universe.”

The Bells of Old Tokyo: Meditations on Time and a City Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781250206428
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Picador - December 1st, 2020

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