Tokyo (東京, Tōkyō, literally "Eastern capital") is the capital and one of the forty-seven prefectures of Japan.
Within Tokyo are twenty-three municipalities (the "special wards") which de facto form the "city of Tokyo", though no such city exists de jure. Also in Tokyo are the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.
About 12 million people (10 percent of Japan's population) live in Tokyo. It is the center region of the world's most populous metropolitan area. It is considered one of the world's major global cities and a megacity.
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 Day and the Emperor's birthday on December 23 to greet the Imperial family
Tokyo's rise to importance can be largely attributed to 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. As a result, the city developed rapidly and grew to become one of the largest cities in the world with a population topping one million by the 18th century. It became the de facto capital of Japan even while the emperor lived in Kyoto, the imperial capital.
After 263 years, the shogunate was overthrown under the banner of restoring imperial rule. In 1869, the figurehead 17-year-old Emperor Meiji moved to Edo, which was renamed "Tokyo" ("Eastern Capital") the year before. 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. The city of Tokyo was established, and continued to be the capital until it was abolished as a municipality in 1943 and merged with the "Metropolitan Prefecture" of Tokyo.
Tokyo, like Osaka has been designed since about the turn of the century (1900) to be rail-centric, that is centered around major train stations in a high density fashion, so suburban railways were built relatively cheaply at street level. This differs from other world cities such as Los Angeles that are low density automobile centric, and though expressways have been built, the basic design hasn't changed to this day.
Tokyo went on to suffer two major catastrophes and has recovered remarkably from both. 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 combined. Large areas of the city were flattened.
After the war, Tokyo was completely rebuilt, and showcased to the world during the city's 1964 Summer Olympics. Tokyo became the largest city in the world in 1965 (taking the lead from New York). The 1970s brought new high-rise developments such as Sunshine 60, a new and controversial airport at Narita (well outside Tokyo), and a population increase to about 11 million (in the metropolitan area).
Tokyo's subway and commuter rail network became the busiest in the world as more and more people moved to the area. In the 1980s, real estate prices skyrocketed during an economic bubble: many got rich quick, but the bubble burst in the early 1990s and many companies, banks, and individuals were caught with real estate shrinking in value. A major recession followed, making the 1990s Japan's "lost decade" from which it is now slowly recovering.
Tokyo still sees new urban developments on large lots of less profitable land. Recent projects include Ebisu Garden Place, Tennozu Isle, Shiodome, Roppongi Hills, Shinagawa (now also a Shinkansen station), and Tokyo Station (Marunouchi side). Buildings of significance are demolished for more up-to-date shopping facilities such as Omotesando Hills. 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.
Tokyo was hit by powerful earthquakes in 1703, 1782, 1812, 1855 and 1923. The 1923 earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 8.3, killed 142,000 people.
There have been various plans proposed for transferring national government functions from Tokyo to secondary capitals in other regions of Japan, in order to slow down rapid development in Tokyo and revitalize economically lagging areas of the country. These plans have been controversial within Japan and have yet to be realized.
Due to evolution in the method in which Japanese letters are transliterated into their roman representation, older texts may refer to the city as "Tokio."
Map of Japan showing Tokyo is red
Geography and administrative divisions
Tokyo Prefecture consists of three major parts: the twenty-three special wards (constituting the former Tokyo City); Tama; and the islands.
The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Bay and measures 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. Mainland Tokyo is further subdivided into the special wards (occupying the eastern half) and Tama.
Tokyo Prefecture also includes two island chains in the Pacific Ocean directly south: the Izu Islands, which are almost parallel to the Izu Peninsula; and the Ogasawara Islands, which stretch more than 1,000 km away from mainland Japan.
Under Japanese law, Tokyo is designated as a to (都, often translated "metropolis"). Its administrative structure is similar to that of Japan's other prefectures. Within Tokyo lie dozens of smaller entities, most of them conventionally referred to as cities. It includes twenty-three special wards (特別区 -ku) which until 1943 comprised the city of Tokyo but are now separate, self-governing municipalities, each with a mayor and a council, and having the status of a city. In addition to these 23 municipalities, Tokyo also encompasses 26 more cities (市 -shi), five towns (町 -chō or machi), and eight villages (村 -son or -mura), each of which has a local government. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is headed by a publicly-elected governor and metropolitan assembly. Its headquarters are in the ward of Shinjuku. They govern all of Tokyo, including lakes, rivers, dams, farms, remote islands, and national parks in addition to its famous neon jungle, skyscrapers and crowded subways.
Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world: its nominal GDP of around US$1.315 trillion is greater than Canada's economy, which is the 8th largest in the world. It is a major international finance center, is site of the headquarters of several of the world's largest investment banks and insurance companies, and serves as a hub for Japan's transportation, publishing, and broadcasting industries.
During the centralized growth of Japan's economy following World War II, many large firms moved their headquarters from cities such as Osaka (the historical commercial capital) to Tokyo, in an attempt to take advantage of better access to the government. This trend has begun to slow due to ongoing population growth in Tokyo and the high cost of living there.
Tokyo was rated by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the most expensive (highest cost-of-living) city in the world for 14 years in a row ending in 2006. Note that this is for living a Western corporate executive lifestyle. Many Japanese get by fine on a budget in Tokyo, underpinning the high national savings rate.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange is the second largest in the world currently by market capitalization of listed shares, at more than $4 trillion. Only the New York Stock Exchange is larger. However, its prominence has fallen significantly since early 1990's asset bubble peak, when it accounted for more than 60 percent of the entire world's stock market values.
Tokyo had 8,460 ha (20,900 acres) of agricultural land as of 2003, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, placing it last among the nation's prefectures. The farmland is concentrated in Western Tokyo. Perishables such as vegetables, fruits, and flowers can be conveniently shipped to the markets in the eastern part of the prefecture. Japanese leaf spinach and spinach are the most important vegetables; as of 2000, Tokyo supplied 32.5% of the Japanese leaf spinach sold at its central produce market.
With 36% of its area covered by forest, Tokyo has extensive growths cryptomeria and Japanese cypress, especially in the mountainous western communities of Akiruno, Ome, Okutama, Hachioji, Hinode, and Hinohara. Decreases in the price of lumber, increases in the cost of production, and advancing old age among the forestry population have resulted in a decline in Tokyo's output. In addition, pollen, especially from cryptomeria, is a major allergen for the nearby population centers.
Tokyo Bay was once a major source of fish. Presently, most of Tokyo's fish production comes from the outer islands, such as Izu Ōshima and Hachijōjima. Skipjack tuna, nori, and aji are among the ocean products.
Satellite photograph of Tokyo, Japan
As one of the major cities of the world, Tokyo has over eight million people living within its 23 wards, and during the daytime, the population swells by over 2.5 million as workers and students commute from adjacent areas. This effect is even more pronounced in the three central wards of Chiyoda, Chuo, and Minato, whose collective population is less than 300,000 at night, but over two million during the day.
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