It is slightly dismaying that Tokyo, the largest city on earth, has had only a relatively small body of serious work written about it in English. Cultural geographer Paul Waley is one of a handful of writers — Edward Fowler, Roman Adrian Cybriwsky, Edward Seidensticker and Hidenobu Jinnai among them — that we turn to for informed and creative interpretations of the megalopolis.

A considerable amount of urban development and physical warping has taken place since the book was published in 1991, but “Tokyo: City of Stories” remains as germane today to our understanding of the mechanisms of change as it did when it first appeared. While paying heed to the history of Tokyo’s major commercial and entertainment hubs, Waley’s inclinations are to eschew the odorless glass and titanium towers, the brilliant corporate centers of the city, in preference for districts soaked in human narrative.

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