Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Japanese Woman and Her World

Amy Stanley (Author)
Available

Description

A vivid, deeply researched work of history that explores the life of an unconventional woman during the first half of the 19th century in Edo--the city that would become Tokyo--and a portrait of a great city on the brink of a momentous encounter with the West.

The daughter of a Buddhist priest, Tsuneno was born in a rural Japanese village and was expected to live a traditional life much like her mother's. But after three divorces--and a temperament much too strong-willed for her family's approval--she ran away to make a life for herself in one of the largest cities in the world: Edo, a bustling metropolis at its peak.

With Tsuneno as our guide, we experience the drama and excitement of Edo just prior to the arrival of American Commodore Perry's fleet, which transformed Japan. During this pivotal moment in Japanese history, Tsuneno bounces from tenement to tenement, marries a masterless samurai, and eventually enters the service of a famous city magistrate. Tsuneno's life provides a window into 19th-century Japanese culture--and a rare view of an extraordinary woman who sacrificed her family and her reputation to make a new life for herself, in defiance of social conventions.

Immersive and fascinating, Stranger in the Shogun's City is a revelatory work of history, layered with rich detail and delivered with beautiful prose, about the life of a woman, a city, and a culture.

Product Details

Price
$28.00  $25.76
Publisher
Scribner Book Company
Publish Date
July 14, 2020
Pages
352
Dimensions
6.0 X 8.7 X 1.2 inches | 1.25 pounds
Language
English
Type
Hardcover
EAN/UPC
9781501188527
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Amy Stanley is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University. She lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband and two children, but Tokyo will always be her favorite city in the world.

Reviews

"This gracefully written book is mostly concerned with imaginatively reconstructing the life of an ordinary yet extraordinary woman. The author does this by teasing meaning out of fragmentary sources, especially the letters from and about the woman in a family archive."
--Los Angeles Review of Books
"Amy Stanley found a strand of vibrant life in the archives, and used it to weave a gorgeous tapestry of early 19th-century Edo. When a meticulous historian is also a gifted storyteller, time travel becomes possible."
--Janice Nimura, author of Daughters of the Samurai

"A fascinating book. Even before it was Tokyo, the city of Edo was the most urban place in the world. Amy Stanley leads us through Edo following the experiences of Tsuneno, a headstrong woman from a country temple, as she careened through four marriages, desperate to escape stultifying country life. Along the way, she breaks all the stereotypes of docile Japanese womanhood. Bringing Tsuneno to life through her letters and family records, Stanley weaves a compelling and unusual story with a rich description of Japan on the cusp of opening to the West."
--Dr. Liza Dalby, author of Geisha

"Amy Stanley's breathtaking recreation of the world of Tsuneno--a forgotten but far-from-ordinary woman in early 19th-century Japan--is as entrancing as it is evocative, a model of the historian's craft. This is a magical book."
--Stephen R. Platt, author of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom and Imperial Twilight

"An imaginative account of an ordinary woman with extraordinary determination in nineteenth-century Japan. Capturing her soul as well as the society that batters it, the narrative brings her story into history with compelling force."
--Carol Gluck, author of War Memory

"Scrupulously analyzed in intimate detail, the well-preserved letters of a priest's daughter illuminate a lifelong drama certain to dispel any stereotypical notion of "traditional" Japanese womanhood. Outside a specific time and place the protagonist lived in, her frustrations and determination, as well as her sober pragmatism, are honest sentiments of women everywhere. The book interweaves the parallel story of the foreboding drumbeat of the approaching Western powers that enhances and validates, rather than diminishes, the significance of this woman's true-to-self life experiences. Written in crisp prose, the book exemplifies the skillful art of elevating women's history above and beyond the so-called mainstream historiography."
--Hitomi Tonomura, author of Women and Class in Japanese History

"A carefully researched, elegantly crafted, boldly imaginative work of historical recreation. Amy Stanley, combining the roles of the historian as detective and the historian as storyteller, weaves together the tale of an ordinary yet extraordinary woman and a special city at the cusp of two ages. Stranger in the Shogun's City deserves a spot on the bookshelf near The Return of Martin Guerre, The Question of Hu, and Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace."
--Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink