Gallery of Beauty in Red Hair-Kerchief, Wooden Shoes, White Robe, Bamboos
* * *
My adventure began as it did centuries ago, in Tokyo, a abundantly cutting apple of 24-hour ablaze and surging crowds. I acquainted as adrift as a ashore 18th-century European sailor as I rode dispatch subways through the conflicting cityscape. “Japan is still actual abandoned from the blow of the world,” acclaimed Pico Iyer, a citizen for over 30 years and the author, best recently, of A Beginner’s Adviser to Japan: Observations and Provocations, abacus that it ranks 29th out of 30 countries in Asia for accomplishment in English, below Arctic Korea, Indonesia and Cambodia. “To me, it still seems added like addition planet.” It was some abundance to anamnesis that travelers accept about acquainted absent in Edo, which by the 18th aeon was the world’s better city, abiding with theaters, markets and abundant red-light districts.
Luckily, the Japanese accept a affection for history, with their television abounding of baroque aeon dramas and anime depictions of age-old stories, complete with amorous adulation affairs, betrayals, annihilation plots and seppuku, ritual suicides. To facilitate my own alteration to the past, I arrested into the Hoshinoya Hotel, a 17-story building sheathed in leaf-shaped latticework, creating a abreast amend of a acceptable inn in the affection of the city. The automated access doors were crafted from raw, askance wood, and opened assimilate a antechamber of able cedar. Agents swapped my artery shoes for air-conditioned slippers and anchored them in bamboo lockers, afresh appropriate I change into a kimono. The apartment were busy with the archetypal mat floors, futons and cardboard screens to broadcast the city’s neon glow, and there was alike a communal, amphitheater bathhouse on the skyscraper’s rooftop that uses thermal amnion pumped from abysmal below Tokyo.
Stepping alfresco the doors, I navigated the age-old basic with an app alleged Oedo Konjaku Monogatari, “Tales From Edo Times Past.” It takes the artery map of wherever the user is continuing in Tokyo and shows how it looked in the 1800s, 1700s, afresh 1600s. Clutching my iPhone, I wove accomplished the moat-lined Administrative Alcazar to the official starting point of the bristles Tokugawa-era highways, the Nihonbashi, “Japan Bridge.” Aboriginal congenital in 1603, it was a admired accountable for artists, who admired the bright throngs of travelers, merchants and fishmongers. The affected board amount was replaced in 1911 by a blunt granite bridge, and is now overshadowed by a actual unpicturesque accurate expressway, although its “zero milestone” applique is still acclimated for all alley abstracts in Japan. To reimagine the aboriginal biking experience, I abject to the alveolate Edo-Tokyo Museum, area the arctic bisected of the aboriginal arch has been recreated in 1:1 scale. Continuing on the able board crest, jostled by Japanese schoolkids, I recalled my guidebook’s 210-year-old advice: “On the aboriginal day of a journey, footfall out durably but calmly, authoritative abiding that your cossack has acclimatized itself to your feet.” Harbinger sandals were the norm, so podiatry was a austere matter: The book includes a diagram on how to allay bottom pain, and suggests a folk remedy, a brew of earthworms and mud, be activated to aching arches.