This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book attempts to work through the geography of politics in the Tokugawa period by understanding how its political and social spaces were imagined and understood by the people of the day in all its diversity. Terms such as omote (surface or interface) and uchi (inside) are keys that unlock many significant—and sometimes, to modern eyes, curious—aspects of the Tokugawa past. Political behavior that may appear on the surface to be banal, powerless, desperate, or just plain silly begins to look meaningful, powerful, and serious when understood in terms of the concepts of omote and uchi as they operated in theTokugawa period. Not only does exploring the use of these terms in the Tokugawa period allow us to more directly access the thought of the people of the time, but, furthermore, the process of narrating this past to people in the twenty–first century uncovers our own nationalistic preoccupations and makes the past a mirror reflecting our modern condition.
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