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Nihombashi during the Edo period

Former name of Tokyo during the Edo period. Edo was just a backwater before shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu established his government there in 1603. The city rapidly prospered and soon became the largest city in Japan. In the late 18th century, Edo reached a population of one million and was the largest city in the world at the time (which the Greater Tokyo still is, with 35 million inhabitants).

Edo, like Venice, was a city relying on canals, and boats were the principal means of transport. The city consequently had many bridges, the most famous of which was Nihombashi, which marked the center of Japan (and still does). Several of Edo's bridges still remain in present-day Tokyo, such as Etai-bashi and Ryōgoku-bashi, while others which have disappeared have given their names to severalof Tokyo's most central districts, such as Kyobashi, Shimbashi, Edobashi, Takebashi, Iidabashi or Edogawabashi.

Japanese whose ancestors lived in Edo before it was renamed Tokyo in 1868 are known as Edoko or "child(ren) of Edo". The Edo dialect of the time can still be heard in some shitamachi areas like Asakusa of Fukagawa (eg. the "hi" sounds pronounced as "shi" and vice versa).



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