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Tokyo travel guide — Tokyo tourism and travel information

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about Tokyo

Tokyo (東京 Tōkyō, lit. eastern capital) is the capital of Japan as well as the most populous conurbation in Japan, and is the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

A little more than 12 million people live in Tokyo while hundreds of thousands of others commute everyday from surrounding areas to work and do business in Tokyo. Tokyo is the central place of politics, economy, culture and academics in Japan as well as the home of the Japanese emperor and the seat of the national government, as well as a major business and financial centre for all of East Asia.

It is unusual in that it has far fewer skyscrapers than other cities of its size, mostly due to earthquake construction codes; rather, it mostly consists of low-rise apartments of six to ten floors and densely-packed family homes. Tokyo is also home to the world's most complex mass transit system, and is world-famous for its crowded rush hours.

Tokyo literally means "eastern capital" in Japanese, a meaning in opposition to an old capital to the west, Kyoto, which was renamed "Saikyo", meaning "western capital", for a brief period of time.

The name was spelled Tokio in English until the latter half of the 20th century; while now thoroughly obsolete, this usage persists in a few rare cases like the Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance company. The name is still spelled Tokio in some other languages like Dutch, Finnish, German, Spanish, and Esperanto.

Tokyo geography

Tokyo prefecture is divided into mainland and island areas. The mainland 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. The islands are made up of Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands, stretching 1,000 km into the Pacific Ocean.


Tokyo prefecture has 23 special wards in an area of about 621 square kilometers. As of September 1, 2002 the total population of the 23 wards was about 8.28 million, with a population density of 13,333 persons per square kilometer. Each ward is a local municipality with its own elected mayors and assemblies:

List of cities

In addition to wards, the prefecture has cities like other prefectures.

  • Akiruno
  • Akigawa (present Akiruno)
  • Akishima
  • Chofu
  • Fuchu
  • Fussa
  • Hachioji
  • Hamura
  • Higashikurume
  • Higashimurayama
  • Higashiyamato
  • Hino
  • Hoya (present Nishi-tokyo)
  • Inagi
  • Kiyose
  • Kodaira
  • Koganei
  • Kokubunji
  • Komae
  • Kunitachi
  • Machida
  • Mitaka
  • Musashimurayama
  • Musashino
  • Nishi-tokyo
  • Ome
  • Tachikawa
  • Tama
  • Tanashi (present Nishi-tokyo)

The following are towns and villages on islands.

  • Hachijo sub-prefecture
    • Aogashima
    • Hachijo

Lakes, Mountains, and Islands

The following lakes are in Tokyo:

  • Lake Okutama

The following mountains are in Tokyo:

  • Mt. Kumotori
  • Mt. Takao
  • Mt. Mitake
  • Mt. Mihara

The following islands are in Tokyo:

  • In Tokyo Bay:

Tokyo sights

Some famous places for sight-seeing include:

  • Japanese Imperial Palace (Kokyo)
  • Tokyo Tower
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • Edo-Tokyo Museum
  • Roppongi Hills, one of Tokyo's largest skyscrapers
  • Budokan and Tokyo Dome arenas
  • Odaiba, a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay
  • The Rainbow Bridge and Yurikamome monorail
  • Kabukiza theater
  • Akasaka Palace and Jingu Gaien Park
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Ueno Park
  • Sumida Park
  • Nagata-cho, location of the Diet Building and other government offices
  • Sensoji temple in Asakusa
  • Tokyo Disney in nearby Urayasu

Tokyo history

Tokyo was initially constructed in 1457; the city was known as Edo (江戸). 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 September of 1868, when the shogunate came to an end, Emperor Meiji ordered Edo to be renamed "Tokyo," meaning "Eastern Capital." The new name was meant to emphasize Tokyo's status as the new capital of Japan, both temporally and spiritually.

Tokyo has been generally accepted as the sole capital of Japan since 1869, when the Emperor took up permanent residence there. However, the capital was never legally "transferred" to Tokyo, leading some to question whether Kyoto may still be the capital, or a co-capital.

The Great Kanto 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.

Following the war, Tokyo was under military occupation and governed by the allied forces. General Douglas MacArthur established the occupation headquarters in what is now the Dai-Ichi Seimei building overlooking the Imperial Palace. The American presence in Tokyo made it an important command and logistics center during the Korean War. Tokyo still hosts a number of U.S. military bases, including Yokota Air Base.

During the 1950s and mid-1960s, Japan experienced what is widely described as the "economic miracle", which transformed the nation from wartime devastation to the world's second-largest economy by 1966. During this period, Japanese government policy placed priority on the development of infrastructure and manufacturing industries over social welfare. As a result, Japan came to dominate a range of industries including steel, ship-building, automobiles, semiconductors, and consumer electronics. Tokyo's re-emergence from wartime trauma was complete at the 1964 Summer Olympics, which publicized the city on an international stage and brought global attention to the "economic miracle".

Beginning in the 1970s, Japanese cities experienced a massive wave of expansion as laborers began migrating from rural areas, and Tokyo was one of the most dramatic examples. As it grew steadily into the economic bubble of the late 1980s, Tokyo became one of the most dynamic cities on Earth, with a tremendous range of social and economic activities, myriad restaurants and clubs, a major financial district, tremendous industrial strength, a wealth of shops, and world-class entertainment opportunities. The construction boom of the bubble years was one of the greatest in world history (as judged by the level of building expenditures in relation to the size of the economy), leading Tokyo to have an enormously more modern capital stock of buildings than similar metropolises such as London and New York City. Although the recession following the bursting of the "bubble economy" in the early 1990s hurt the city, Tokyo remains the predominant economic center of East Asia, rivaled only by Hong Kong and Singapore.

On March 20, 1995, Tokyo 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.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tokyo".

This city is also known as: Tokyo.

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