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, officially  , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japanmarker and is located on the eastern side of the main island Honshūmarker. Tokyo's government also administers the twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, that cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture. The population of the special wards is over 8 million people while the total population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million. The prefecture is the center of the Greater Tokyo Areamarker, the world's most populous metropolitan area with 35 to 39 million people (depending on definition) and the world's largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$1.479 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2008.

Tokyo was described by Saskia Sassen as one of the three "command centers" for the world economy, along with Londonmarker and New York Citymarker. This city is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the GaWC's 2008 inventory and ranked fourth among global cities by Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index. In 2009 Tokyo was named the world's most expensive city for expatriate employees, according to the Mercer and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys and named the third Most Liveable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis by the magazine Monocle.

Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palacemarker, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.


Tokyo was originally known as Edo, meaning estuary. Its name was changed to Tokyo (Tōkyō: (east) + kyō (capital)) when it became the 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"; however, this pronunciation is now obsolete.


Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo. In 1457, Ōta Dōkan built Edo Castlemarker. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu made Edo his base and when he became shogun in 1603, the town became the center 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 center, and the emperor's residence made it a de facto imperial capital as well with the former Edo Castlemarker becoming the Imperial Palacemarker. 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 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 many cities in the United Statesmarker that are low-density and automobile-centric. Though expressways have been built in Tokyo, 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 earthquakemarker, which left 140,000 dead or missing, and the other was World War II. The bombing of Tokyo in 1944 and 1945marker, 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 60marker, a new and controversial airportmarker at Narita in 1978 (some distance outside city limits), 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 a real estate and debt bubble. The bubble burst in the early 1990s, and many companies, banks, and individuals were caught with mortgage backed debts while real estate was 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 Ebisumarker Garden Place, Tennozu Isle, Shiodome, Roppongi Hillsmarker, Shinagawa (now also a Shinkansen station), and the Marunouchimarker side of Tokyo Stationmarker. Buildings of significance are demolished for more up-to-date shopping facilities such as Omotesando Hillsmarker. Land reclamation projects in Tokyo have also been going on for centuries. The most prominent is the Odaibamarker area, now a major shopping and entertainment center. 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

The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Baymarker and measures about 90 km east to west and 25 km north to south. Chiba Prefecturemarker borders it to the east, Yamanashimarker to the west, Kanagawamarker to the south, and Saitamamarker to the north. Mainland Tokyo is further subdivided into the special wards (occupying the eastern half) and the Tama area ( ) stretching westwards.

Also within the administrative boundaries of Tokyo Metropolis are two island chains in the Pacific Oceanmarker directly south: the Izu Islandsmarker, and the Ogasawara Islandsmarker, which stretch more than 1,000 km away from the mainland. 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 ( ), 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 ( -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 ( -shi), five towns ( -chō or machi), and eight villages ( -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 headquartersmarker 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 neon jungles, skyscrapers and crowded subways.

The twenty-three special wards

A Map of Tokyo's 23 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 forming the current "metropolitan prefecture". As a result, 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 having a unique administrative relationship with the prefectural government. Certain municipal functions, such as waterworks, sewerage, and fire-fighting, are handled by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. To pay for the added administrative costs, the prefecture collects municipal taxes, which would usually be levied by the city.The special wards of Tokyo are as follows:

The "three core wards" of Tokyo are Chiyoda, Chūō and Minato.

Western Tokyo

A Map of cities in western part of 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 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.


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

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has designated Hachiōji, Tachikawa, Machida, Ōme and Tama New Town as regional centers 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 Kumotorimarker, is 2,017 m high; other mountains in Tokyo include Takasu (1737 m), Odake (1266 m), and Mitakemarker (929 m). Lake Okutamamarker, on the Tama Rivermarker near Yamanashi Prefecturemarker, is Tokyo's largest lake.


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

The Ogasawaramarker Islands include, from north to south, Chichi-jimamarker, Nishinoshimamarker, Haha-jimamarker, Kita Iwo Jimamarker, Iwo Jimamarker, and Minami Iwo Jimamarker. Ogasawara also administers two tiny outlying islands: Minami Torishimamarker, the easternmost point in Japan and at 1,850 km the most distant island from central Tokyo, and Okino Torishimamarker, the southernmost point in Japan. The last island is contested by the People's Republic of Chinamarker 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-jimamarker and Haha-jimamarker. The islands form the village of Ogasawara.

National parks

There are several national parks within Tokyo, among them:


Population of Tokyo
By area1 Tokyo

Special wards

Tama Area

12.79 million

8.653 million

4.109 million

By age² Juveniles (age 0-14)

Working (age 15-64)

Retired (age 65+)

1.461 million (11.8%)

8.546 million (69.3%)

2.332 million (18.9%)
By hours³ Day

14.978 million

12.416 million
By nationality Foreign residents 364,6534
1 Estimates as of October 1, 2007.

² as of January 1, 2007.

³ as of 2005 National Census.

4 as of January 1, 2006.
As of October 2007, the official intercensal estimate showed 12.79 million people in Tokyo with 8.653 million living 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 as of the 2005 National Census was 326,000 at night, but 2.4 million during the day. The entire prefecture had 12,790,000 residents in October 2007 (8,653,000 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 most common foreign nationalities found in Tokyo are Chinese (123,661), Korean (106,697), Filipino (31,077), American (18,848), British (7,696), Brazilian (5,300) and French (3,000).

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

Climate and seismology

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 earthquakemarker, with an estimated magnitude of 8.3, killed 142,000 people.


Global warming

Tokyo has enacted a measure to cut greenhouse gases. Governor Shintaro Ishihara created Japan's first emissions cap system, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emission by a total of 25 percent by 2020 from the 2000 level.

Heat island phenomenon

In Tokyo, particularly in the special wards, the problem of the heat island phenomenon is serious. According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the annual mean temperature has increased by about 3°C over the past 100 years.


Tokyo is one of the three world finance "command centers", along with New Yorkmarker and Londonmarker. Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world. According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopersmarker, the Tokyo urban area (35.2 million people) had a total GDP of US$1.479 trillion in 2008 (at purchasing power parity), ranking again as the largest urban agglomeration GDP in the world. As of 2008, 47 of the companies listed on the Global 500 are based in Tokyo, almost twice that of the second-placed city (Parismarker).
Tokyo is a major international finance center, 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.
Big Mac Index shows that workers in Tokyo are earning the highest salary in the world.

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 Fisheriesmarker, 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.


Tokyo, as the center of the Greater Tokyo Areamarker, 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 Airportmarker ("Haneda") offers mainly domestic flights. Outside Tokyo, Narita International Airportmarker, in Chiba Prefecturemarker, is the major gateway for international travelers to Japan. All Nippon, Air Japan and Northwest Airlines have a hub at the airport.

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

Map of Tokyo Subway system, with transfer stations labeled
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 center 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 Tokyomarker and Shinjukumarker.

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

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.


Tokyo has many universities, junior colleges, and vocational schools. Many of Japan's most prestigious universities are in Tokyo, including University of Tokyomarker, Hitotsubashi Universitymarker, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda Universitymarker, and Keio Universitymarker. Some of the biggest national universities located in Tokyo are:

There is only one non-national public university: Tokyo Metropolitan University.

There are also a few universities well-known for classes conducted in English and for the teaching of the Japanese language. They include:

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". Regardless, Tokyo has many private schools from kindergarten through high school.


Tokyo has many museums. In Ueno Parkmarker there are four national museums: Tokyo National Museummarker, the country's largest museum and specializing in traditional Japanese art; the National Museum of Western Artmarker; and the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Artmarker, 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 zoomarker. Other museums include the Nezu Art Museummarker in Aoyama; the Edo-Tokyo Museummarker in Sumida across the Sumida Rivermarker from the center of Tokyo; and the National Diet Librarymarker, National Archives, and the National Museum of Modern Artmarker, which are located near the Imperial Palacemarker.

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 Budokanmarker.Many different festivals occur throughout Tokyo. Major events include the Sannō at Hie Shrinemarker, the Sanja at Asakusa Shrinemarker, 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 Rivermarker attracts over a million viewers. Once cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloom in spring, many residents gather in Ueno Park, Inokashira Parkmarker, and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardenmarker for picnics under the blossoms.

Harajuku, a neighborhood in Shibuya, is known internationally for its youth style and fashion.

Cuisine in Tokyo is internationally acclaimed. In November 2007, Michelin released their guide for fine dining in Tokyo, garnering 191 stars in total, or about twice as many as its nearest competitor, Parismarker. 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 and three serve French cuisine.


Tokyo, with a diverse array of sports, is home to two professional baseball clubs, the Yomiuri Giants (Tokyo Domemarker) and Tokyo Yakult Swallows (Meiji-Jingu Stadiummarker) .The Japan Sumo Association is also headquartered in Tokyo at the Ryōgoku Kokugikanmarker sumo arena where three official sumo tournaments are held annually (in January, May, and September). Football clubs in Tokyo include F.C. Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy, both of which play at Ajinomoto Stadiummarker in Chōfu. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics. National Stadium, also known as Olympic Stadium, Tokyomarker 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 Gymnasiummarker, in Sendagaya, Shibuya, is a large sports complex that includes swimming pools, training rooms, and a large indoor arena.

Tokyo in popular media

As the largest population center in Japan and the location of the country's largest broadcasters and studios, Tokyo is frequently the setting for many Japanese movies, television shows, animated series (anime), web comics, and comic books (manga). In the kaiju (monster movie) genre, landmarks of Tokyo are routinely destroyed by giant monsters such as Godzilla.

Some Hollywood directors have turned to Tokyo as a filming location for movies set in Tokyo. 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, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Lost in Translation.

Japanese films that use Tokyo as their setting include:


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 earthquakemarker and later after extensive firebombing in World War IImarker. 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.

Sister relationships

Tokyo has eleven sister cities/states:

In addition, Tokyo has a "partnership" agreement with Londonmarker, United Kingdommarker.

See also


  1. GaWC - The World According to GaWC 2008
  2. The Mercer 2009 Cost of Living Survey.
  3. Room, Adrian. Placenames of the World. McFarland & Company (1996), p360. ISBN 0786418141.
  4. "明治東京異聞~トウケイかトウキョウか~東京の読み方" Tokyo Metropolitan Archives (2008). Retrieved on 13 September 2008.
  5. Tokyo-Yokohama earthquake of 1923. Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  6. "Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) Airport Information (Tokyo, Japan)". Retrieved on 11 September 2008.
  7. The Structure of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Tokyo government webpage)
  8. Population of Tokyo - Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Retrieved on July 4, 2009)
  9. Peel, M. C., Finlayson, B. L., and McMahon, T. A.: Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 1633-1644, 2007.
  10. Barry, Roger Graham & Richard J. Chorley. Atmosphere, Weather and Climate. Routledge (2003), p344. ISBN 0415271703.
  11. Toshiaki Ichinose, Kazuhiro Shimodozono, and Keisuke Hanaki. Impact of anthropogenic heat on urban climate in Tokyo. Atmospheric Environment 33 (1999): 3897-3909.
  13. Heat Island Control Measures
  14. (inactive).
  15. Tokyo stock exchange
  16. Hidenobu Jinnai. Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology. University of California Press (1995), p1-3. ISBN 0520071352.

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