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Encyclopedia > Tokyo prefecture
Tokyo Metropolitan Government (東京都)


Zōjōji (a temple in Shiba Park) and Tokyo Tower typify the contrasts between the ancient and the hyper-modern that define the world's largest megalopolis: Tokyo.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government symbol
A stylized T fanning outward (the shape of a ginkgo leaf) represents the entire metropolitan area as Tokyo's official symbol.

Capital special ward Shinjuku
Region: Kanto
Island: Honshu

 - Total
 - % water

Ranked 45th

2,187.08 km²


 - Total (Jan 1, 2001)
 - Density

Ranked 1st


Districts: 1
Municipalities: 39
Governor: Shintaro Ishihara
ISO 3166-2: JP-13
Pref. Flower: Yoshino cherry blossom
Pref. Tree: Ginkgo tree
(Ginkgo biloba)
Pref. Bird: Black-headed gull
(Larus ridibundus)

Tokyo (東京; Tōkyō, lit. eastern capital) is the capital of Japan as well as the most populous conurbation in Japan, and the world's largest metropolitan area by population with 33,750,000 people living within its urban influence.

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 in the 19th century. Until the 1870s, what is now Tokyo was known as "Edo" (sometimes spelled in European languages as "Yedo"). When the Imperial court moved from Kyoto to Edo, the name was changed.

The name was spelled Tokio in English until the latter half of the 19th 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 has an administrative structure unique among the prefectures of Japan. It is officially designated as a "metropolis" (都 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 km². 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 (tochō) 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 km². Tokyo is also part of the Greater Tokyo Area, which consists of Tokyo itself and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.


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. See: Capital of Japan debate

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. Also, in 1943, Tokyo City merged with the larger Tokyo Prefecture, and since that time, no city in Japan has had the name "Tokyo."

The DN Tower 21 rises above the building in which Douglas Macarthur worked.
The DN Tower 21 rises above the building in which Douglas Macarthur worked.

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 DN Tower 21 (formerly 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".

A map from the 1888 Meyers Konversations-Lexikon Encyclopedia shows the old German name for Tokyo, Jedo.

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 (see Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway).


Tokyo's urban sprawl and manmade islands like Odaiba in Tokyo Bay are clearly visible in this satellite photo taken by NASA's Landsat 7.
Home to Tokyo's business and government centers, Shinjuku's famous neon signs entice wandering salarymen into pachinko parlors, karaoke boxes, video arcades, and hostess bars.
High-rise public housing is available in Tokyo.

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 Japanese, ku) in an area of about 621 square kilometers. Each ward 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, 2002 the total population of the 23 wards was about 8.28 million, with a population density of 13,333 persons per square kilometer: The present-day wards were created during the post WW II administrative reforms, by combining 35 wards that had existed prior to the war (15 of them dating to the establishment of the modern municipal administration in the 1880s, and an additional 20 wards created during the expansion of the city after the 1923 earthquake).

  • Adachi
  • Arakawa
  • Bunkyo
  • Chiyoda
  • Chuo
  • Edogawa
  • Itabashi
  • Katsushika
  • Kita
  • Koto
  • Meguro
  • Minato
  • Nakano
  • Nerima
  • Ota
  • Setagaya
  • Shibuya
  • Shinagawa
  • Shinjuku
  • Suginami
  • Sumida
  • Toshima
  • Taito

List of cities

In addition to wards, the prefecture contains ordinary cities like those in other prefectures.

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

Districts, sub-prefectures, towns and villages

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building located in west Shinjuku is the tallest building in Tokyo
  • Nishitama
    • Hinohara
    • Hinode
    • Itsukaichi (present Akiruno)
    • Mizuho
    • Okutama

The following are towns and villages on islands.

  • Hachijo sub-prefecture
    • Aogashima
    • Hachijo
  • Miyake sub-prefecture
    • Mikurajima
    • Miyake
  • Ogasawara sub-prefecture
    • Ogasawara
  • Oshima sub-prefecture
    • Kozushima
    • Niijima
    • Oshima
    • Toshima

The list is in their standard codes for areas of prefectures and municipalities for statistical use.

Lakes, Mountains, and Islands

The following lakes are in Tokyo:

The following mountains are in Tokyo:

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

The following islands are in Tokyo:

  • In Tokyo Bay:
  • In the Izu Islands:
    • Oshima (or Izu Oshima)
    • Toshima
    • Niijima
    • Kozushima
    • Miyakejima
    • Mikurajima
    • Hachijojima
  • In the Ogasawara Islands:
    • Chichjima
    • Hahajima
    • Kita Iwo Jima
    • Iwo Jima
    • Minami Iwo Jima
    • Minami Torishima (Easternmost point in Japan)
    • Oki no Torishima (Southernmost point in Japan)
    • Nishi no Shima


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.
Central south-east Tokyo (viewed from Tokyo City Hall) spreads out as far as the eye can see.
Tokyo truly comes alive by night, when crucial business deals are sealed in izakaya bars over glasses of sake.
Yasukuni Shrine, final resting place for many of Japan's war dead, constantly remains a controversial reminder of Japan's modern history.

Tokyo is home to an enormous number of companies in many sectors of the national and world economy. 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)


Religious landmarks in Tokyo:

Major universities in Tokyo:

Baseball clubs in Tokyo:

Football (soccer) clubs in Tokyo:



's swooping curves, designed by , welcome international visitors fresh from .
Tokyo International Forum's swooping curves, designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, welcome international visitors fresh from Tokyo station.

Some famous places for sight-seeing include:

See also: Tourism in Japan
Harajuku Station now plays host to cosplay gatherings on weekends and at night.

Prefectural symbols

Coat of arms: A sun, sending forth its radiance in six directions.

Miscellaneous topics

Fussa, and nearby communities in Tokyo, are home to Yokota Air Base of the United States Air Force.



Narita Airport handles almost all of the international service coming into Tokyo, while Tokyo International is the hub for the lion's share of domestic flights coming into Tokyo. Chofu handles some flights to the islands south of Tokyo.

Rail and metro

Tokyo has one of the world's most extensive metro systems, which is run by the Tokyo Metro (formerly Teito Rapid Transit Authority, or Eidan) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation (Toei), as well as surface lines operated by JR East (formerly the Japan National Railway), a number of suburban commuter-rail lines, and the Arakawa streetcar line.

Major railway stations:

Movies, manga, anime, and television shows that take place in Tokyo

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.

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

See Also

External link and reference

  • Official Tokyo Metropolitan Government homepage (http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/)
  • Alternate spelling from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica article
  • Tokyo travel guide at Wikitravel (http://wikitravel.org/en/article/Tokyo)
  • Tokyo Travel Guide (http://www.japaneselifestyle.com.au/tokyo/)
  • Tokyo Weather Forecast (http://www.asinah.org/weather/RJTT.html)
  • Metropolis (http://metropolis.japantoday.com) English city guide for Tokyo, Japan
  Tokyo Metropolis
Adachi | Arakawa | Bunkyo | Chiyoda | Chuo | Edogawa | Itabashi | Katsushika | Kita | Koto | Meguro | Minato | Nakano | Nerima | Ota | Setagaya | Shibuya | Shinagawa | Shinjuku (capital) | Suginami | Sumida | Toshima | Taito
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

  Results from FactBites:
Kids.Net.Au - Encyclopedia > Tokyo prefecture (0 words)
Tokyo prefecture (東京都; Tokyo-to) is located on Honshu island, Japan.
Tokyo prefecture is part of the Kanto region, the capital is Shinjuku.
Tokyo prefecture is divided into wards (区; Ku), cities (市部; Shibu) and islands (島; shima).
Wikipedia: Tokyo (1091 words)
Tokyo is the business center of the country as well as the home of the Japanese emperor and the seat of the national government.
Tokyo is often considered part of the Greater Tokyo Area, which consists of Tokyo prefecture itself and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba.
It borders Chiba prefecture in the east, Yamanashi prefecture in the west, Kanagawa prefecture in the south, and Saitama prefecture in the north.
  More results at FactBites »



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