Tokyo is a city of residues and echoes. There are still visible traces of the capital’s past, but much of its history exists more in the popular imagination.

Place names are embedded with allusions to buildings and geographical features that have long since vanished. Commemorative plaques inform passersby of sights they can no longer see — lost to fires, earthquakes, wartime bombing and the city’s endless cycle of construction.

In Senji Kuroi’s short story, “Tamaran Hill,” a middle-aged man becomes fixated on a curiously named slope near his home, in the suburbs of western Tokyo. “Tamaran” can be written with kanji, but when rendered in hiragana script, it’s also a common expression used to describe something unbearable.