Edo-Tokyo: History and Culture Edo-Sakariba Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1360 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian


The following amusements are available in Asakusa: rare shows, performing monkeys, cheap photographers, street artists, jugglers, wrestlers, toy vendors and a huge crowd (Smith). Asakusa if representative of Edo-sakariba in it's ability to attract enormous crowds of pleasure seekers and entertainers, to a street-side venues that have not yet been as tarnished by Western influences as those of the Ginza.

In "Sky and Water: The Deep Structures of Tokyo," Henry Smith says that though the city of Tokyo today is extraordinarily modern, so much so it may seem at first to find the sky and water, originally by looking back through the history of the city "its Edo origins reveal that "sky" and "water" in fact control the form and spirit of Tokyo." Smith tells of the history of Edo, that it was "oriented toward hills and mountains" at the intersection of three landscapes.

How do Ginza and Asakusa related to Edo-sakariba? The original Edo was oriented much toward the hilly landscape, the appearance of "sky" vs. "water" most likely much more acute than today. The city may have been described as one of "pictorial imagery" (Smith). Early one, a great five-story Edo Castle dominated the city as a central monument, rising 275 feet above Edo Bay (Smith). This great landmark was eventually destroyed in fire, however many new architectural creations now lay upon the hillsides of the city. Traditional forms of Japanese architecture were much different than the westernized versions in present day Ginza.

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Edo had represented a traditional sense of "flatness and expanse" in Tokyo (Smith). Mount Fuji used to be seen until early in the twentieth century when the prevalence of smog cluttered the ability of passersby to find the monument on but one day in ten (Smith). Nowadays the city of Tokyo is cluttered with "utility poles and wires," making for some a "horrid impression" of a city they once considered esthetically pleasing (Smith).

As Seidensticker relates, the Edo of old "in a restrained, monochrome fashion - must have been a rather beautiful town, but now it's very ugly."

Term Paper on Edo-Tokyo: History & Culture Edo-Sakariba Assignment

The "diversions and entertainments" of old Edo Sakariba are certainly changed in modern Asakusa, but the purpose is the same: to entertain the masses. In Edo, Ginza and Asakusa of old were considered the "center" of entertainment and shopping (Seidensticker). Museums and concern halls still serve as cultural centers today, much as similar structures served in Edo. In Edo sakariba, there were not however the distractions of the modern hubbub, such as automobiles, cell phones and televisions, a constant source of distraction and noise in a modern city, accompanying also many lights and similar attractions (Pocorroba).

Many of the readings have indicated that a sense of community and social life were very strong in Edo traditional. Public baths for example, were commonplace affairs where people might gather to discuss the goings on of the day (Pocorroba). The modernization and westernization of the area has resulted in reliance on electronic methods of communication, which translates into a much more distant society. One author laments that fifty years ago, people were out in the streets which were much more alive with street vendors. However, even though such vendors still exist today in the streets of Asakusa for example, their numbers are much smaller. According to Pocorroba, "television is the center of life now, and, like the bath, each house has its own."

Ginza and Asakusa are certainly similar to their traditional ancestor, and similar to each other in their aspiration to attract crowds and entertain the general public. However more different than similar, they now exude a Western influence and structure in persona, indicative of changing times and philosophies.


Ginza and Asakusa http://www.udel.edu/History/figal/Hist372/Text/ps4.html

Pocorroba, Janet. "Edward Seidensticker," March 13, 2003, http://metropolis.japantoday.com/tokyofeaturestoriesarchive349/300/tokyofeaturestoriesinc.htm

Seidensticker, Edward. (1983). "Low City, High City." New York: Alfred A. Knopf

Smith, Henry D. (1989). "Sky and Water: The Deep Structures of Tokyo."

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