'It is the best book I have read about Tokyo written this century.' David Peace
For over three hundred years, Japan closed itself to outsiders, developing a unique culture. During its period of isolation, the inhabitants of the city of Edo relied on its public bells to tell the time. Anna Sherman embarks on a search for these great bells, exploring the city we know today as Tokyo and the particular relationship its inhabitants have with language, tradition, and history.
In The Bells of Old Tokyo, Sherman presents a series of hauntingly memorable voices in the labyrinth that is the metropolis of the Japanese capital: an aristocrat plays in the sea of ashes left by the Allied firebombing of 1945; a scientist builds a clock so accurate it will not lose a second in five billion years; the head of the house of Tokugawa laments the destruction of his grandfather's city. Through her friendship with cafe owner Daibo, who introduces her to the art form of coffee making, and her journeys across the city, Sherman uncovers a hidden Tokyo. The result is a meditation on time, memory, and impermanence, a lyrical and intimate portrait of life through an examination of a fascinating city and its people.
'This is the rare book that looks past the zany and clashing surfaces of Japan to excavate its heart, and everything we'll never be able to explain about the place, even as we bow before it.' Pico Iyer