Info on Tokyo


Tokyo (??; Tokyo , literally "eastern capital") is located in the Kanto region on the island of Honshu in Japan. It is counted as one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and commonly referred to as the capital of Japan with the government of Japan and the Emperor of Japan residing in Chiyoda Ward. With a population of over 12 million, or about 10 percent of Japan's population, it is by far the country's most populous and most densely populated prefecture.
Although Tokyo is considered to be one of the major cities of the world, it is technically not a city. There is no city named "Tokyo." Tokyo is actually designated as a "metropolis," similar to a prefecture, run by the metropolitan government headed by a publicly-elected governor.
Tokyo consists of 23 special wards, 26 cities, 5 towns, and 8 villages each having a local government. It includes outlying islands in the Pacific Ocean as far as over 1,000 km south in the subtropics. Over 8 million live within the 23 self-governing, special wards comprising "central Tokyo" which defines Tokyo for most people. The daytime population swells by over 2.5 million with workers and students commuting from neighboring prefectures. The total population of the three central wards of Chiyoda, Chuo, and Minato balloons to over 2 million during the daytime from a nighttime population of less than 300,000.
Being the nation's center of politics, business, finance, education, mass media, and pop culture, Tokyo has the country's highest concentration of corporate headquarters, financial institutions, universities and colleges, museums, theaters, and shopping and entertainment establishments. It boasts a highly developed public transportation system with numerous train and subway lines, buses, and an airport at Haneda with more runways than Narita International Airport.
This extreme concentration is both a boon and bane, prompting an ongoing debate over moving the nation's capital to another region. There is also a great fear of a catastrophic earthquake striking Tokyo, which may in effect cripple the entire nation. Nevertheless, Tokyo continues to attract people from all over Japan and many countries, making a substantial portion of the population non-native to Tokyo and making it a great place to meet people from all over the nation and the world.


Although it is counted as one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, it is technically not a prefecture.
Tokyo has an administrative structure unique among the prefectures of Japan. It is officially designated as a "metropolis" (? to). Although it generally resembles a prefecture, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government also offers partial city government functions to the 23 special wards included in the heart of Tokyo, with a combined population of 8,134,688 and an area of 621.3 kmē. In addition to the special wards, Tokyo administers twenty-six suburban cities to the west, and a number of small islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Metropolitan Government's main offices (tocho) are located in the ward of Shinjuku.
According to the Population Census in 2000, Tokyo has a population of 12,064,101 and area of 2186.9 kmē. Tokyo is also part of the Greater Tokyo Area, which consists of Tokyo itself and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.


Main article: History of Tokyo
Before the Meiji Restoration, the city was known as Edo. The Tokugawa shogunate was established in 1603 with Edo as its seat of government (de facto capital). (The emperor's residence, and formal capital, remained in Kyoto, that city had been the actual capital of Japan until that time.) In 1868, when the shogunate came to an end, the city was renamed "Tokyo" which means "Eastern Capital"; during the restoration, the emperor moved to Tokyo, making the city the formal as well as de facto capital of Japan. A major earthquake struck Tokyo in 1923, killing approximately 70,000 people; a massive reconstruction plan was drawn up, but was too expensive to carry out except in part. Despite this, the city grew until the beginning of World War II. During the war, Tokyo was heavily bombed, much of the city was burned to the ground, and its population in 1945 was only half that of 1940.
General Douglas MacArthur established his Occupation headquarters in what is now the Dai-Ichi Seimei building overlooking the Imperial Palace and, in the post-war years, and especially stimulated by the Korean War, Japan experienced an economic miracle that led it from post-war deprivation to tremendous economic success. In the process, Japan entered and very often came to dominate a range of industries including steel, shipbuilding, automobiles, semi-conductors, consumer electronics.
Although the recession following the bursting of the "bubble economy" in the early 1990s hurt the city, Tokyo has become one of the most dynamic capital cities on earth. It has a tremendous range of social and economic activities, with myriad restaurants and clubs, a major financial district, tremendous industrial strength, a wealth of shops and entertainment opportunities. The investment boom of the late 1980s is perhaps the greatest the world has ever known (as judged e.g. by the level of building expenditures in relation to the size of the economy) and, as a result, Tokyo has an enormously more modern capital stock (of buildings) than, e.g., London or New York.
On March 20, 1995 the city became the focus of international media attention in the wake of the Aum Shinrikyo cult terrorist organisation attack with Sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway system (in the tunnels beneath the political district of central Tokyo) in which 12 people were killed and thousands affected.
Tokyo's postwar urban sprawl and manmade islands like Odaiba in Tokyo Bay are clearly visible in this satellite photo taken by NASA's Landsat 7.


Tokyo is located to the northwest of Tokyo Bay, about 90 km east to west and 25 km north to south. It borders Chiba Prefecture to the east, Yamanashi Prefecture to the west, Kanagawa Prefecture to the south, and Saitama Prefecture to the north. It also consists of islands in the Pacific Ocean directly south. The Izu Islands are closest, while the Ogasawara Islands stretch over 1,000 km away from mainland Japan.
Tokyo consists of 23 special wards, 26 cities, 5 towns, and 8 villages.

23 special wards

Each ward (ku) is a local municipality with its own elected mayors and assemblies but differs from ordinary cities in that certain governmental functions are handled by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
As of September 1, 2003 the total population of the 23 wards was about 8.34 million, with a population density of 13,416 persons per square kilometer.


West of the 23 wards,
Tokyo consists of cities (shi), which enjoy a similar legal status to cities elsewhere in Japan. While serving a role as "bed towns" for those working in central Tokyo, some of these cities also have a local commercial and industrial base. Collectively, these cities are often known as "West Tokyo."

Districts, towns, and villages

The far west is occupied by the district (gun) of Nishitama. Much of this area is mountainous and unsuitable for urbanization. The highest mountain in Tokyo, Mount Kumotori , is 2,017 m high; other mountains in Tokyo include Mount Takasu (1737 m), Mount Odake (1266 m), and Mount Mitake (929 m). Lake Okutama, on the Tama River near Yamanashi Prefecture, is Tokyo's largest lake.
Hinohara Village


Tokyo's outlying islands extend as far as 1,000 km from central Tokyo. Because of the islands' distance from the city, they are locally run by branches of the metropolitan government, and often referred to as "subprefectures." Most of the islands are classified as villages.
Izu Islands
Oshima Subprefecture - Islands of Kozushima, Niijima , Oshima , and Toshima .
Miyake Subprefecture - Islands of Mikurajima and Miyakejima (main town: Miyake ).
Hachijo Subprefecture - Islands of Aogashima and Hachijojima (main town: Hachijo ).

Ogasawara Islands

Ogasawara Subprefecture - Ogasawara includes, from north to south, Chichjima , Nishinoshima , Hahajima , Kita Iwo Jima , Iwo Jima, and Minami Iwo Jima . Also includes two tiny outlying islands: Minami Torishima, the easternmost point in Japan, and Oki no Torishima , the southernmost point in Japan. The Iwo chain and the outlying islands are mostly uninhabited, but there are small local populations on the three islands closer to Honshu.

National Parks

There are two national parks in West Tokyo: Chichibu-Tama National Park , located in Nishitama and spilling over into Yamanashi and Saitama Prefectures, and Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park , located around Mount Takao to the south of Hachioji.
South of Tokyo is the Ogasawara National Park.

Major Districts

The center of Tokyo is the Imperial Palace, the former site of Edo Castle. The term "central Tokyo" today may refer to either the area within the looping Yamanote train line or to Tokyo's 23 special wards (ku) covering about 621 square kilometers, the most densely-populated area of Tokyo.
Central Tokyo has a number of major urban centers where business, shopping, and entertainment are concentrated. They all center around a major train station where multiple train lines operate.
Shinjuku - Tokyo's capital where the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is located. It is best known for Tokyo's early skyscrapers since the early 1970s. Major department stores, camera and computer stores, and hotels can be found. On the east side of Shinjuku Station, Kabuki-cho is notorious for its many bars and nightclubs.
Marunouchi and Otemachi - The main financial and business district of Tokyo has many headquarters of banks, trading companies, and other major businesses. The area is seeing a major redevelopment with new buildings for shopping and entertainment constructed in front of Tokyo Station's Marunouchi side.
Ginza and Yurakucho - Major shopping and entertainment district with department stores, upscale shops selling brand-name goods, and movie theaters.
Shinbashi - By being the gateway to Odaiba and having the new Shiodome Shiosite complex of high-rise buildings, this area has been effectively revitalized.
Shinagawa - In addition to the major hotels on the west side of Shinagawa Station, the former sleepy east side of the station has been redeveloped as a major center for business.
Shibuya - A longtime center of shopping, fashion, and entertainment, especially for the younger set.
Ikebukuro - Anchored by the Sunshine City (which was once Tokyo's tallest building) hotel and shopping complex, this is another area where people gather due to the various train lines shooting out of Ikebukuro Station.
Ueno - Ueno Station serves areas north of Tokyo from where many people commute. Besides department stores and shops in Ameyoko, Ueno boasts Ueno Park, Ueno Zoo, and major national museums. In spring, Ueno Park and adjacent Shinobazu Pond are prime places to view cherry blossoms.
Odaiba - A large, reclaimed, waterfront area that has become one of Tokyo's most popular shopping and entertainment districts.
Kinshicho - Major shopping and entertainment area in eastern Tokyo.
Kichijoji - Major shopping and entertainment area in western Tokyo.
Also see Tourism below.


The Ginza area of Tokyo, once the world's most expensive shopping area during the economic bubble of the 1980s, is still home to exclusive department stores.
Tokyo is home to an enormous number of companies in many sectors of the national and world economy. Internationally, Tokyo is an important center for banking, finance, and insurance. Tokyo is also the hub of Japan's publishing, machine manufacturing, and IT industries. During the 1980s, Tokyo was one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the world: real estate and construction remain major industries in the city.
Historically, Tokyo did not become a major commercial center until the 1800s, and did not achieve primacy in the Japanese economy until the mid-20th century. Since World War II, most of the largest Japanese corporations (and almost all multinationals) have been headquartered in Tokyo to benefit from proximity to government regulators, even if their operations are located elsewhere. For a partial list, see: List of companies headquartered in Tokyo.


By age (2002):
Juveniles (0-14): 1.43 million (12%)
Working population (15-64): 8.5 million (71.4%)
Aged population (65+): 1.98 million (16.6%)
Foreign resident population: 327,000 (2001)
Net population growth: +68,000 (2000 to 2001)


Yasukuni Shrine, final resting place for many of Japan's war dead, constantly remains a controversial reminder of Japan's modern history.
Tokyo is known for its Japanese religious sites: Shinto shrines (Kanda Myojin , Meiji Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine) and Buddhist temples (Sensoji, Zojoji).
The city also has a noticeable international religious influence, ranging from Eastern Orthodoxy (St. Nikolai Cathedral ) to the Roman Catholic Church (St. Mary's Cathedral ) to Islam (Tokyo Mosque ).


Tokyo has many tourist attractions. It would take weeks to see all the major ones. Thanks to a very convenient train and subway system (with signs in English), it is easy to visit most of these attractions. Here are only some of them (random order).
Shrines, temples, and castles
The Imperial Palace, Meiji Shrine, and Sensoji Temple are the three most popular ones in Tokyo.
Imperial Palace - Home of the Emperor and Crown Prince and their families.
Sensoji in Asakusa
Meiji Shrine - Dedicated to Emperor Meiji
Akasaka Palace
Yasukuni Shrine
Tsukiji Honganji Temple - Tokyo headquarters of the Jodo Shinshu Nishi Honganji Buddhist sect.
Gokokuji Temple
Festivals and events
Tokyo holds many festivals large and small throughout the year.
Spring (March-May)
Kanda Festival
Sanja Festival in Asakusa
Summer (June-Aug.)
Koenji Awa Odori
Asakusa Samba Festival
Sumida Fireworks in Asakusa and Sumida Ward
Fukagawa Hachiman Festival
Fall (Sept.-Nov.)
Tokyo Jidai Festival in Asakusa
Winter (Dec.-Feb.)
Hatsumode New Year's Prayers at Meiji Shrine, Sensoji, and other major shrines and temples
Dezome-shiki Fireman's Parade at Tokyo Big Sight
Setsubun at Sensoji and other major temples
Grand Sumo Tournaments in Jan., May, and Sept. at the Ryogoku Kokugikan
Tsukiji fish market
Parks and gardens
Hibiya Park
Jingu Gaien
East Garden of the Imperial Palace
Meiji Shrine Inner Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen
Showa Memorial Park in Tachikawa
Sumida Park
Ueno Park
Yoyogi Park
Kitanomaru Park
Hamarikyu Gardens
Kiyosumi Garden
Rikugien Garden
Inokashira Park in Kichijoji
Kyu-Furukawa Gardens
Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
Koishikawa Botanical Garden
Shinjuku Central Park
Komazawa Olympic Park
Kiba Park
Kasai Rinkai Park
Plum blossoms (Feb.-March) - Yoshino Baigo in Ome, Mukojima Hyakkaen Garden, Hanegi Park in Umegaoka
Cherry blossoms (Late March-early April) - Ueno Park and Shinobazu Pond , Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen , Inokashira Park in Kichijoji, Chidorigafuchi Imperial Palace moat near the Budokan, Aoyama Cemetery , Sumida Park and River near Asakusa, International Christian University
Wisteria (Late April-early May) - Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Koto Ward
Azaleas (Late April-early May) - Nezu Shrine , East Garden of the Imperial Palace , Shiofune Kannon Temple in Ome
Irises (early-mid June) - Meiji Shrine, Horikiri Iris Garden
Hydrangeas (June-July) - Takahata Fudo Temple, Hino
Scenic views
Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Observatory
Rainbow Bridge walkway
Sunshine City Observatory in Ikebukuro
Fuji TV Headquarters Observatory in Odaiba
Prefectural symbols
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government uses a gingko leaf design in iron fences along streets, Toei metropolitan buses, and other facilities they own or operate.
Among tourists, the Nijubashi at the Imperial Palace, the National Diet Building, the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) housing the big red paper lantern at Sensoji in Asakusa, the skyscrapers at Shinjuku, and the neon signs at night in Ginza are the most popular symbols that come to mind.
There are other major landmarks like Tokyo Tower, the Rainbow Bridge, the State Guest-House in the Akasaka Imperial Palace , and Tokyo Station, but no one really thinks of them when they think of Tokyo.


Tokyo has numerous museums and art galleries. This is only some of them.
Tokyo National Museum
National Museum of Western Art
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in Kiba
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu Garden Place
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space
Tokyo Bunka Kaikan
Kokugikan Sumo Museum
Fukagawa-Edo Museum in Koto Ward
Japanese Sword Museum
Tokyo Opera City
Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills


National Noh Theater (Kokuritsu Nohgaku-do)
National Theatre (Kokuritsu Gekijo)
Modern architecture
Tokyo Tower
Rainbow Bridge
National Diet Building
Yoyogi Olympic Pool
Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Big Sight
Tokyo Station red brick building
Tokyo International Forum


Omotesando - Fashion capital of Japan.
Harajuku - Street fashion capital of Japan.
Shibuya - Teen fashion capital of Japan
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