A couple of weeks back, I impulsively checked out a couple of books from the local library on traditional Japanese architecture. (I have to drive right past it on my way to the grocery store… so I stop by quite often.) A little digging in their bibliographies and some things found on the web, a visit to the all-too-tempting interlibrary loan section of my library’s website… and this happened:
Happily digging into a variety of things related to Tokugawa era Japan… Being a nerd in the 21st century is fun, a veritable water hose of knowledge available with little effort.
Tour of Duty I’m currently most of the way through… Everyone knows about sankin-kōtai (“alternate attendance”), the process by which the Shogun kept tabs on and leash around the necks of the daimyo. Tour dives deeply into the details of the process. How it was organized, how it proceeded, and the cultural, social, and economic impacts. It also talks about how the daimyo and the retainers lived in Edo, and what all those people did while they were there. (The samurai served as guards, policemen, fireman around the city… the retainers performed labor on various projects around the city.) Fascinating stuff.
Everyday Things in Premodern Japan covers the physical culture of Tokugawa Japan – I.E. the “stuff” of daily life and how it was lived.
Voices of Early Modern Japan Translated documents, diaries, etc… the minutia of daily and official life.
Cartographic Japan Now this is the one I’m really looking forward to… over and above almost anything else, I’m a map nerd. So a history of maps and map making in Japan is right in my wheelhouse.
Though I suppose I should have waited until I read them all to post so I could review them all… Ah well, so it goes. From the bibliography of Tour and searching the publisher’s catalogs, I’ve got quite a list of further books! This won’t be the last such post… :)