Americans and, I suppose, westerners in general, tend to have a somewhat vague mental image of Japan prior to the twentieth century. Rickety wooden temples, paper houses, zen gardens, skilled artisans, rice paddies, fishing villages, mountainous wilderness with the occasional samurai warrior wandering about looking for an injustice to set right.
The notion that they had cities and a bustling economy just as the Europeans did may not filter through. More’s the pity. The time and the players make for some fascinating stuff. Consider the Mitsui family. Continue reading