Template:Japanese todofuken

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Long a symbol of Tokyo, the Nijubashi Bridge at the Imperial Palace. The general public is allowed to cross this bridge on two days of the year: New Year's and the Emperor's birthday on Dec. 23 to greet the Imperial family appearing on a balcony.

Tokyo (東京; Tōkyō Template:Audio, 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. The center of Tokyo is located at 35°41' North, 139°46' East (35.68333, 139.7667). [1] (

Although Tokyo is considered 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" ( -to), similar to a prefecture ( -ken), consisting of 23 special wards ( -ku), 26 cities ( -shi), 5 towns ( -cho or machi), and 8 villages ( -son or mura) each having a local government. It includes outlying islands in the Pacific Ocean as far as over 1,000 km south in the subtropics. Tokyo itself is headed by a publicly-elected governor (not mayor).

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 is less than 300,000 at night, but balloons to over 2 million during the day.

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 a convenient 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 country and the world.



See: Main article: History of Tokyo

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Stone foundation of the main tower at Edo Castle.

Tokyo's current prominence in Japan can be attributed to just two men: Tokugawa Ieyasu and Emperor Meiji. In 1603, after unifying the warring states of Japan, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made Edo (now Tokyo) his base of operations. As a result, the city developed rapidly and grew to become one of the largest cities in the world with a population topping 1 million by the 18th century. It was the de facto capital of Japan even while the Emperor resided in Kyoto, the Imperial capital.

Since the city's early beginnings and even now, Edo/Tokyo has always had a large non-native population. Ieyasu himself was an outsider who brought many outsiders to help build the city and government. The sankin kotai system also required provincial warlords to periodically parade to Edo and keep a residence in the city along with key family members and samurai retainers. The term "Edokko" (child of Edo) was even coined (and still used today) to distinguish the natives from the non-natives.

After 250 years of the Tokugawa, the shogunate was overthrown by two southern prefectures (Chōshū and Satsuma) under the banner of restoring Imperial rule. In 1869, the figurehead 17-year-old Emperor Meiji moved to Edo, which was renamed "Tokyo." Tokyo was already the nation's political, economic, and cultural center, and the emperor's residence made it a de facto Imperial capital as well with the former Edo Castle becoming the Imperial Palace.

Tokyo went on to suffer two major tragedies and has remarkably recovered from both of them. One was the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, and the other was World War II. The firebombings in 1945 were almost as devastating as the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Large areas of the city were flattened. Today, hardly a trace of the war remains, but the emotional scars still remain among many people.

After the war, Tokyo was rebuilt with excellent train and subway systems, skyscrapers sprouting since the early 1970s, a new and controversial airport at Narita in 1978, and a population increase to about 11 million. In the 1980s, real estate prices skyrocketed during the economic bubble. Many companies and people got rich quick reselling real estate. But the bubble popped in the 1990s and many companies, banks, and individuals got caught with with real estate shrinking in value. A major recession followed, making the 1990s Japan's "lost decade" which still continues well into the first decade of the 21st century.

Tokyo still sees new or renewed urban centers being developed on large lots of idle land. Recent projects include Ebisu Garden Place, Tennozu Isle, Shiodome, Roppongi Hills, Shinagawa (now also a shinkansen station), and Tokyo Station (Marunouchi side). Land reclamation projects in Tokyo have also been going on for centuries. The most prominent is the Odaiba area, now a major shopping and entertainment center.


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This map shows the mainland portion of Tokyo. Colors indicate the 23 Special Wards and Western Tokyo. Reclaimed land on Tokyo Bay (such as Odaiba) has been omitted for clarity. The islands cannot be shown at this scale. Click on the map to enlarge it.

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 is also part of the Greater Tokyo Area by far the world's most populous metropolitan area that includes the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.

Tokyo consists of the following 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.


Satellite photo of Tokyo taken by 's .
Satellite photo of Tokyo taken by NASA's Landsat 7.

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.


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The Izu Islands, south of Tokyo, are part of Tokyo.

Tokyo's outlying islands extend as far as 1 850 km from central Tokyo. Because of the islands' distance from the city, they are locally run by branches of the metropolitan government. Most of the islands are classified as villages.

Izu Islands

Ogasawara Islands

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

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Shibuya, considered the center of Japanese youth culture, boasts one of the world's busiest pedestrian crossings, the Scramble Crossing in front of the Hachikō exit of Shibuya station.

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.

There are 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 Building 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.


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Tokyo Stock Exchange

Currently under revision.



By area (as of Oct. 1, 2003)

  • All of Tokyo: 12.36 million
  • 23 special wards: 8.34 million
  • Tama area: 4 million
  • Islands: 27,000

By age (As of Jan. 1, 2003):

  • Juveniles (0-14): 1.433 million (12%)
  • Working population (15-64): 8.507 million (71.4%)
  • Aged population (65+): 2.057 million (16.6%)

By time (As of 2000)

  • Nighttime: 12.017 million
  • Daytime: 14.667 million

By nationality

  • Foreign residents: 353,826 (as of Jan. 1, 2005)
  • Top 5 Nationalities of Foreign Residents: Chinese (120,331), Korean (103,191), Philippine (31,505), American (18, 043), British (7,585)


Tokyo is Japan's largest domestic and international hub for rail, ground, and air transportation. Public transportation within Tokyo is also unsurpassed in the world with clean and efficient train and subway lines and buses.


Railways and subways

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The Ginza Line, Tokyo's oldest subway line first opened in 1927.

Rail is the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo, which has the most extensive underground network in the world and an equally extensive network of surface lines. Most lines in Tokyo are privately owned and operated, with the exception of the Tokyo Metro (run jointly by the national and metropolitan government) and Toei Subway (run directly by the metropolitan government). Railway and subway lines are highly integrated; commuter trains from the suburbs continue directly into the subway network on many lines, often emerging on the other side of the city to serve another company's surface line.


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Toei bus

The metropolitan government operates Toei buses mainly within the 23 special wards while private bus companies operate other bus routes. Bus transportation is convenient for places far from the train or subway stations. Most bus routes stop or terminate at a train or subway station, and they can be quite complicated with no signs in English. The Toei buses charge 200 yen per ride which you pay when you board. Other buses may charge according to distance, and you pay when you get off.


  • Taxis - Available along most major streets. Starting fare is about 650 yen.
  • Streetcars - Once a common sight before subways and buses came to fore, streetcar lines have shrunk to only one route called the Toden Arakawa Line plying the route between Waseda and Minowabashi.
  • Ferries/Boats - Long-distance ferries operated by Tokai Kisen go to outlying islands such as the Ogasawara Islands and Izu Islands. River boats on the Sumida River operate between Asakusa and Kasai Rinkai Park, mainly for tourists.
  • Expressways - Many expressways converge at Tokyo including the Tomei Expressway, Chuo Expressway, Kan'etsu National Expressway, Ken-ō Expressway, Tokyo Gaikan Expressway, Daisan Keihin Highway, and Keiyo Highway. The Shuto Expressway network covers central Tokyo, linking the intercity expressways together.


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Zōjōji (a temple in Shiba Park) and Tokyo Tower.

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

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Meiji Shrine

The Imperial Palace, Meiji Shrine, and Sensoji Temple are the three most popular ones in Tokyo.

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Rickshaws carry tourists in front of Kaminarimon Gate of Sensoji in Asakusa

Festivals and events

Tokyo holds many festivals large and small throughout the year.

Spring (March-May)

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Sanja Festival in Asakusa.

Summer (June-Aug.)

Fall (Sept.-Nov.)

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


Parks and gardens

Cherry blossoms at Ueno Park.
Cherry blossoms at Ueno Park.


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The Jindai Botanical Garden has a multitude of flowers such as the roses in this garden.

Scenic views

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Rainbow Bridge

Shopping and entertainment

 neon signs at night.
Ginza neon signs at night.

Tokyo has various shopping districts famous for specific products. Akihabara is well-known for electronics stores, Shinjuku for camera and book shops, Ginza for department stores and luxury goods, Shibuya and Harajuku for teenage fashion, and Jimbocho for used (and new) books.

See also: Tourism in Japan

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.

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Tokyo National Museum in Ueno.


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Kabuki-za Theater

Modern architecture

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Tokyo in popular media

As the largest city in Japan and the location of the country's largest broadcasters and studios, Tokyo is frequently the setting for Japanese movies, television shows, animated series (anime), and comic books (manga). The most well-known outside Japan may be the kaiju (monster movie) genre, in which landmarks of Tokyo are routinely destroyed. Many comic books and animated series set in Tokyo, such as Sailor Moon, Ranma 1/2, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, have become popular across the world as well.

Some Hollywood directors have turned to Tokyo as a filming location. Well-known examples from the postwar era include Tokyo Joe, My Geisha, and the James Bond film You Only Live Twice; well-known contemporary examples include Kill Bill and Lost in Translation.

For a more complete list, see: List of movies, manga, anime, and television shows that take place in Tokyo


Being the nation's center of education, Tokyo boasts many universities, junior colleges, and vocational schools. Many of Japan's most prestigious universities are in Tokyo. The most prestigious is the University of Tokyo. Other big-name schools include Keio University, Hitotsubashi University, and Waseda University.

Tokyo also has a few universities well-known for classes instructed in English. They include International Christian University, Sophia University, and Temple University Japan.

Universities in Tokyo

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Akamon Gate at the University of Tokyo.

National Universities

Public University

Private Universities

Professional sports

A sumo match at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
A sumo match at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Tokyo is home to two professional baseball clubs, the Yakult Swallows (Meiji Jingu Stadium) and Yomiuri Giants (Tokyo Dome).

The Japan Sumo Association is also headquartered in Tokyo at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena where three official sumo tournaments are held annually (in January, May, and September).

Football (soccer) clubs in Tokyo include FC Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy 1969, both of which play at Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu.

With a number of world-class sports venues, Tokyo often hosts national and international sporting events such as tennis tournaments, swim meets, marathons, American football exhibition games, judo, karate, etc.

Miscellaneous topics

Sister cities

In addition, many of the wards and cities within Tokyo maintain sister-city relationships with other foreign cities

North: Saitama
West: Kofu Tokyo, International Airport East: Chiba, Narita, International Airport
South: Yokohama, Kawasaki

External links





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