John Milton was of the opinion that "towered cities please us then, and the busy hum of men." Tokyo would have delighted him. Largest city in the world, it has long busily hummed. Home of the first tower (dungeon-keep of the earliest Edo castle) it now has enough towering skyscrapers for everyone.

Since almost a quarter of Japan's population, over 30 million people, live in and around the city, the busy humming continues and, as Stephen Mansfield observes in this splendid new history of the city, "Tokyo's remodeled surfaces always seem youthful, to have somehow escaped the rigor mortis of older capitals."

As the author later notes, "a case might be made for calling Tokyo a Taoist city" in that it so conforms to the doctrine of submission to constant flux and transformation. Indeed, as suggested in Yoshida Kenko's beautiful 1330 "Tsurezuregusa" paradigm, the water in this flowing civic torrent is never the same.