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Temples, shrines, gardens, the Imperial Palace . . . Why, tourist guidebooks are full of places that echo the form and spirit of the Old Edo that once was. But they’re only telling you a part of the story.

This city of an estimated 1 million souls — which, back in the 17th century, made it the world’s most populous — was a beehive of human activity, not all of it legal. The Tokugawa rulers took a stern, legalistic approach to violators of the law, and punishment, when it came, was unforgiving, swift and often public.

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