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Tokyo

Related subjects Asia; Asian Cities

Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to)
Map of Japan with Tokyo highlighted
Capital n/a
Region Kantō
Island Honshū
Governor Shintaro Ishihara
Area ( rank) 2,187.08 km² (45th)
 - % water 1.0%
Population  ( October 1, 2007)
 - Population 12,790,000
(8,652,700 in special wards) (1st)
 - Density 5796 /km²
Districts 1
Municipalities 62
ISO 3166-2 JP-13
Website metro.tokyo.jp(English)
Prefectural Symbols
 - Flower Somei-Yoshino cherry blossom
 - Tree Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba)
 - Bird Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government symbol
Adopted in June 1989, Tokyo's official symbol has three arcs forming the letter T for Tokyo in the shape of a vivid green ginkgo leaf. It symbolizes Tokyo's future growth, prosperity, charm, and tranquility.

Tokyo (東京 Tōkyō ?), formally Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to ?), is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū, Tokyo is unique among the prefectures, providing certain municipal services characteristic of a city, as defined by Japanese law.

Because it is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family, Tokyo is the de facto capital of Japan. The name Tokyo literally means eastern capital.

The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, although each administratively a city in its own right, constitute the area informally considered as the " city of Tokyo" and are collectively one of the largest cities in the world with a total population of over 8 million people. The total population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million.

The Greater Tokyo Area, centered on Tokyo but also including Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama, is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with a population of over 35 million people. It has been the world's most populous urban area since between 1965 and 1970, and despite Japan's overall declining population, is still growing.

Tokyo has the largest metropolitan gross domestic product in the world for a city.

Tokyo is a major global city and megacity. The name "Tokyo" refers variously to Tokyo Metropolis (the prefecture) as a whole, or only to the main urban mass under its jurisdiction (thus excluding west Tama and Izu and Ogasawara Islands), or even the whole of Greater Tokyo Area, which includes Tokyo and parts of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Yamanashi prefectures, depending on context.

This article uses the name to refer to Tokyo Metropolis unless otherwise stated.

Name

Tokyo was originally known as Edo, meaning estuary. Its name was changed to Tokyo (Tōkyō: (east) + kyō (capital)) when it became the de facto imperial capital in 1868. During the early Meiji period, the city was also called "Tōkei", an alternative pronunciation for the same Chinese characters representing "Tokyo". Some surviving official English documents use the spelling "Tokei". This pronunciation is now obsolete.

History

Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo. In 1457, Ōta Dōkan built Edo Castle. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu made Edo his base and when he became shogun in 1603, the town became the centre of his nationwide military government. During the subsequent Edo period, Edo grew into 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 about 263 years, the shogunate was overthrown under the banner of restoring imperial rule. In 1869, the 17-year-old Emperor Meiji moved to Edo. Tokyo was already the nation's political and cultural centre, 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.

Central Tokyo, like Osaka, has been designed since about the turn of the century (1900) to be centered around major train stations in a high-density fashion, so suburban railways were built relatively cheaply at street level and with their own right-of-way. This differs from cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, that are low-density and automobile-centric. Though expressways have been built, the basic design has not changed.

Tokyo went on to suffer two major catastrophes in the 20th century, but it recovered from both. One was the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, and the other was World War II. The firebombings in 1945, with 75,000 to 200,000 killed and half of the city destroyed, were almost as devastating as the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. After the war, Tokyo was completely rebuilt, and showcased to the world during the 1964 Summer Olympics. 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 one of 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. 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 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 the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station. 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 centre.

Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower as seen from Odaiba at night
Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower as seen from Odaiba at night

Various plans have been 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.

Geography and administrative divisions

Map showing the mainland portion of Tokyo.
Map showing the mainland portion of Tokyo.

The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Bay and measures about 90 km east to west and 25 km north to south. Chiba Prefecture borders it to the east, Yamanashi to the west, Kanagawa to the south, and Saitama to the north. Mainland Tokyo is further subdivided into the special wards (occupying the eastern half) and the Tama area (多摩地域) stretching westwards.

Also within the administrative boundaries of Tokyo Metropolis are two island chains in the Pacific Ocean directly south: the Izu Islands, and the Ogasawara Islands, which stretch more than 1,000 km away from mainland Japan. Because of these islands and mountainous regions to the west, Tokyo's overall population density figures far underrepresent the real figures for urban and suburban regions of Tokyo.

Under Japanese law, Tokyo is designated as a to ( 都), translated as 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.

The twenty-three special wards

The special wards (tokubetsu-ku) of Tokyo comprise the area formerly incorporated as Tokyo City. On July 1, 1943, Tokyo City was merged with Tokyo Prefecture (東京府, Tōkyō-fu) forming the current "metropolitan prefecture". As a result of this merger, unlike other city wards in Japan, these wards are not part of any larger incorporated city.

Each ward is a municipality with its own elected mayor and assembly like the other cities of Japan. The wards differ from other cities in that certain governmental functions are handled by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The special wards of Tokyo are as follows:

Skyscrapers in Shinjuku
Skyscrapers in Shinjuku
  • Adachi
  • Arakawa
  • Bunkyō
  • Chiyoda
  • Chūō
  • Edogawa
  • Itabashi
  • Katsushika
  • Kita
  • Kōtō
  • Meguro
  • Minato
  • Nakano
  • Nerima
  • Ōta
  • Setagaya
  • Shibuya
  • Shinagawa
  • Shinjuku
  • Suginami
  • Sumida
  • Taitō
  • Toshima

The term "central Tokyo" today may refer to all of the 23 special wards, to all but the outermost special wards, or only to the three centrally located wards of Chiyoda, Chūō and Minato.

Western Tokyo

To the west of the special wards, Tokyo Metropolis consists of cities, towns and villages that enjoy the same legal status as those elsewhere in Japan.

While serving a role as " bed towns" for those working in central Tokyo, some of these also have a local commercial and industrial base. Collectively, these are often known as the Tama Area or Western Tokyo.

Cities

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

Twenty-six cities lie within the western part of Tokyo:

  • Akiruno
  • Akishima
  • Chōfu
  • Fuchū
  • Fussa
  • Hachiōji
  • Hamura
  • Higashikurume
  • Higashimurayama
  • Higashiyamato
  • Hino
  • Inagi
  • Kiyose
  • Kodaira
  • Koganei
  • Kokubunji
  • Komae
  • Kunitachi
  • Machida
  • Mitaka
  • Musashimurayama
  • Musashino
  • Nishitōkyō
  • Ōme
  • Tachikawa
  • Tama

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has designated Hachiōji, Tachikawa, Machida, Ōme and Tama New Town as regional centres of the Tama area, as part of their plans to disperse urban functions away from central 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 Takasu (1737 m), Odake (1266 m), and Mitake (929 m). Lake Okutama, on the Tama River near Yamanashi Prefecture, is Tokyo's largest lake.

  • Hinode
  • Mizuho
  • Okutama
  • Hinohara

Islands

Tokyo has numerous outlying islands, which extend as far as 1850 km from central Tokyo. Because of the islands' distance from the administrative headquarters of the metropolitan government in Shinjuku, local offices administer them.

The Izu Islands are a group of volcanic islands and form part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The islands in order from closest to Tokyo are Izu Ōshima, Toshima, Niijima, Shikinejima, Kozushima, Miyakejima, Mikurajima, Hachijojima, and Aogashima. Izu Ōshima and Hachijojima are towns. The remaining islands are six villages, with Niijima and Shikinejima forming one village.

The Ogasawara Islands include, from north to south, Chichi-jima, Nishinoshima, Haha-jima, Kita Iwo Jima, Iwo Jima, and Minami Iwo Jima. Ogasawara also administers two tiny outlying islands: Minami Torishima, the easternmost point in Japan and at 1,850 km the most distant island from central Tokyo, and Okino Torishima, the southernmost point in Japan. The last island is contested by the People's Republic of China as being only uninhabited rocks. The Iwo chain and the outlying islands have no permanent population, but host Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel. Local populations are only found on Chichi-jima and Haha-jima. The islands form the village of Ogasawara.

National Parks

There are several national parks within Tokyo, among them:

  • Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park, around Mount Takao to the south of Hachiōji
  • Ogasawara National Park. As of 2006, efforts were being made to make Ogasawara National Park a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site.

Cityscape

Architecture in Tokyo has largely been shaped by Tokyo's history. Twice in recent history has the metropolis been left in ruins: first in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and later after extensive firebombing in World War II. Because of this, Tokyo's current urban landscape is one of modern and contemporary architecture, and older buildings are scarce.

Tokyo also contains numerous parks and gardens.

Panoramic view of Tokyo as seen from Marunouchi
Panoramic view of Tokyo as seen from Marunouchi

Climate and seismology

Climate chart for Tokyo
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
45
 
10
1
 
 
60
 
10
2
 
 
100
 
13
4
 
 
125
 
18
10
 
 
138
 
23
15
 
 
185
 
25
19
 
 
126
 
29
22
 
 
148
 
31
24
 
 
180
 
26
20
 
 
164
 
21
14
 
 
89
 
17
9
 
 
46
 
12
4
temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Climate-Charts.com

Tokyo lies in the humid subtropical climate zone ( Koppen climate classification Cfa), with hot humid summers and generally mild winters with cool spells. Annual rainfall averages 1,380 mm (55 inches), with a wetter summer and a drier winter. Snowfall is sporadic, but does occur almost annually. Tokyo is an example of an urban heat island; the city's population is a significant contributor to its climate. Tokyo has been cited as a "convincing example of the relationship between urban growth and climate". Tokyo also often sees typhoons each year, though few are strong. The last one to hit was Fitow in 2007.

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.

Environment

Global warming

Tokyo is preparing to force industry to make big cuts in greenhouse gases, taking the lead in a country struggling to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations. Tokyo's outspoken governor, Shintaro Ishihara, decided to go it alone and create Japan's first emissions cap system, reducing greenhouse gas emission by a total of 25 percent by 2020 from the 2000 level.

Economy

Tokyo Stock Exchange
Tokyo Stock Exchange
Nikkei 225
Nikkei 225

Tokyo is one of the three world finance "command centres", along with New York and London. Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world. According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Tokyo urban area (35.2 million people) had a total GDP of US$1,191 billion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity), ranking again as the largest urban agglomeration GDP in the world. See also List of cities by GDP.

Tokyo is a major international finance centre, houses 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. This analysis is for living a Western corporate executive lifestyle, with items like a detached house and several automobiles.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange is Japan's largest stock exchange, and second largest in the world by market capitalization and fourth largest by share turnover. In 1990 at the end of the Japanese asset price bubble, it accounted for more than 60% of the world stock market value.

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 of cryptomeria and Japanese cypress, especially in the mountainous western communities of Akiruno, Ōme, Okutama, Hachiōji, 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.

Tourism in Tokyo is also a contributor to the economy.

Demographics

Population of Tokyo
By area1

Tokyo
Special wards
Tama Area
Islands

12.6 million
8.64 million
4 million
27,000

By age²

Juveniles (age 0-14)
Working (age 15-64)
Retired (age 65+)

1.433 million (12%)
8.507 million (71.4%)
2.057 million (16.6%)

By hours³

Day
Night

14.667 million
12.017 million

By nationality

Foreign residents

353,8264

1 as of June 1, 2007.
² as of January 1, 2003.

³ as of 2000.
4 as of January 1, 2005.

Over eight million people live within Tokyo's 23 wards. 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, Chūō, and Minato, whose collective population is less than 300,000 at night, but over two million during the day. The entire prefecture has 12,790,000 residents in October 2007 (8,657,000 in 23 wards), with an increase of over 3 million in the day. Tokyo is at its highest population ever, while that of the 23 wards peak official count was 8,893,094 in the 1965 Census, with the count dipping below 8 million in the 1995 Census. People continue to move back into the core city as land prices have fallen dramatically.

As of 2005, the five most common foreign nationalities found in Tokyo are Chinese (123,661), Korean (106,697), Filipino (31,077), American (18,848) and British (7,696).

The 1889 Census recorded 1,389,600 people in Tokyo City, Japan's largest city at the time.

Transportation

JR Yamanote Line
JR Yamanote Line
Map of Tokyo Subway system with transfer stations labeled
Map of Tokyo Subway system with transfer stations labeled

Tokyo is Japan's largest domestic and international hub for rail, ground, and air transportation. Public transportation within Tokyo is dominated by an extensive network of clean and efficient trains and subways run by a variety of operators, with buses, monorails and trams playing a secondary feeder role.

Within Ōta, one of the 23 special wards, Tokyo International Airport ("Haneda") offers mainly domestic flights. Outside Tokyo, Narita International Airport, in Chiba Prefecture, is the major gateway for international travelers.

Various islands governed by Tokyo have their own airports. Hachijōjima ( Hachijojima Airport), Miyakejima ( Miyakejima Airport), and Izu Ōshima ( Oshima Airport) have service to Tokyo International and other airports.

Rail is the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo, which has the most extensive urban railway network in the world and an equally extensive network of surface lines. JR East operates Tokyo's largest railway network, including the Yamanote Line loop that circles the centre of downtown Tokyo. Two organizations operate the subway network: the private Tokyo Metro and the governmental Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. The metropolitan government and private carriers operate bus routes. Local, regional, and national services are available, with major terminals at the giant railroad stations, including Tokyo and Shinjuku.

Expressways link the capital to other points in the Greater Tokyo area, the Kantō region, and the islands of Kyūshū and Shikoku.

Other transportation includes taxis operating in the special wards and the cities and towns. Also long-distance ferries serve the islands of Tokyo and carry passengers and cargo to domestic and foreign ports.

Education

Tokyo has many universities, junior colleges, and vocational schools. Many of Japan's most prestigious universities are in Tokyo, the University of Tokyo being the most prestigious of all. National universities located in Tokyo include Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, University of Electro-Communications, Tokyo Institute of Technology and University of Tokyo. There is only one public university (i.e., not national): the Tokyo Metropolitan University. Keio University and Waseda University, top private universities in Japan, are located in Tokyo. Tokyo also has a few universities well-known for classes conducted in English. They include International Christian, Sophia, Waseda University, and Temple University Japan. For an extensive list, see List of universities in Tokyo.

Publicly run kindergartens, elementary schools (years 1 through 6), and junior high schools (7 through 9) are operated by local wards or municipal offices. Public high schools in Tokyo are run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education and are called "Metropolitan High Schools". Tokyo also has many private schools from kindergarten through high school.

Culture and sports

Tokyo has many museums. In Ueno Park are four national museums: Tokyo National Museum, the country's largest museum and specializing in traditional Japanese art; the National Museum of Western Art; and the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, with its collections of Japanese modern art as well as over 40,000 Japanese and foreign films. Also in Ueno Park are the National Museum of Science and the public zoo. Other museums include the Nezu Art Museum in Aoyama; the Edo-Tokyo Museum in the Sumida Ward across the Sumida River from the centre of Tokyo; and the National Diet Library, National Archives, and the National Museum of Modern Art, which are located near the Imperial Palace.

Tokyo has many theaters for the performing arts as well. These include national and private theaters for traditional forms of Japanese drama (like noh and kabuki) as well as modern dramas. Symphony orchestras and other musical organizations perform Western and traditional music. Tokyo also hosts modern Japanese and Western pop and rock music at venues ranging in size from intimate clubs to internationally known arenas like the Nippon Budokan.

Many different festivals occur throughout Tokyo. Major events include the Sannō at Hie Shrine, the Sanja at Asakusa Shrine, and the biennial Kanda Festivals. The last features a parade with elaborately decorated floats and thousands of people. Annually on the last Saturday of July, an enormous fireworks display over the Sumida River attracts over a million viewers. Once cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloom in spring, many residents gather in Ueno Park, Inokashira Park, and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for picnics under the blossoms.

Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan is known internationally for its youth style and fashion.

Cuisine in Tokyo is internationally acclaimed. In November of 2007, Michelin released their guide for fine dining in Tokyo, garnering 191 stars in total, or about twice as many as its nearest competitor, Paris. Eight establishments were awarded the maximum of three stars (Paris has 10), 25 received two stars, and 117 earned one star. Of the eight top-rated restaurants, three offer traditional Japanese fine dining, two are sushi houses, three serve French cuisine.

Sports in Tokyo are diverse. 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 Ryōgoku 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 Chōfu. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics. National Stadium, also known as Olympic Stadium, Tokyo is host to a number of international sporting events. 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. Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, in Sendagaya, Shibuya, is a large sports complex that includes swimming pools, training rooms, and a large indoor arena.

Sister relationships

Tokyo has eleven sister cities/states:

In addition, Tokyo has "partnership" agreements with London, Auckland, Paris, and Rome. Many wards and cities within Tokyo also maintain sister-city relationships with other foreign cities.

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