"The End and the BeginningLafacdio Hearn once said that a person never forgets..."

The End and the Beginning**
**Lafacdio Hearn once said that a person never forgets the things seen and heard in the depths of sorrow; but it seems to me that, whatever the time of sorrow, a person also thinks of the happy, the bright, the comical, things quite the opposite of sorrowful. When the earthquake struck I knew that I had survived, and I feared for my wife and daughter, left behind in Yokohama. Almost simultaneously I felt a surge of happiness which I could not keep down. : Tokyo will be better for this!” I said to myself…..**
**I have heard that it did not take ten years for San Francisco to be a finer city than before the earthquake. Tokyo too would be benefit in ten years, into a solid expanse of splendid buildings like the Marunouchi Building and the Marine Insurance Building. I imagined the grandeur of the new metropolis, and all the changes that would come in customs and manners as well. An orderly pattern of streets, their bright new pavements gleaming. A flood of automobiles. The geometric beauty of block towering upon block, and elevated lines and subways and trolleys weaving among them, and the stir of a nightless city, and pleasure facilities to rival those of Paris and New York…Fragments of the new Tokyo passed before my eyes, numberless, like flashes in a movie. Soirees, evening dresses and swallowtails and dinner jackets moving in and out, and champagne glasses floating up like the moon upon the ocean. The confusion of late night outside a theater, headlights crossing one another on darkly shining streets. The flood of gauze and satin and legs and illumination that is vaudeville. The seductive laughter of streetwalkers beneath the lights of Ginza and Asakusa and Marunouchi and Hibiya Park. The secret pleasures of Turkish baths, massage parlors, and beauty parlors. Weird crimes. I have long had a way of giving myself up to daydreams in which I imagine all manner of curious things, but it was very strange indeed that these phantasms should be so stubbornly entwined among sad visions of my wife and daughter.

–Low City, High City: Tokyo from the Edo to Earthquake by Edward G. Seidensticker


Written by Juraj Bednár //