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Tōkyō 東京

Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge at dusk
Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge at dusk.

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Overwhelming capital of Japan, Tōkyō is the home of 13.5 million people (including 8.7 million within the 23 wards), and lies at the core of the most populous metropolis in the world. Indeed, the greater Tōkyō, with the surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, have a staggering total population of 35 million inhabitants.

Bustling with energy, brimming with luxury departments stores, Tokyo is also regarded as the world's best city for eating, boasting 200,000 restaurants and three times more Michelin stars than Paris.


Tōkyō was just a small village 400 years ago, when shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to move his government there. Edo, as it was then called, soon developed into the country's largest city. By the 18th century, Edo had become the most populous city in the world, exceeding one million inhabitants in 1721.

The name changed from Edo to Tōkyō (literally "eastern capital") in 1868 when the shōgunate collapsed and the new regime of Emperor Meiji moved the capital from Kyōto to Tōkyō.

=> More on Tokyo's history


One particularity of Tōkyō is that it does not have one centre, but several. The official centre is Nihombashi, from where all distances in Japan are measured. However, Nihombashi is most a financial district and most tourists and shoppers will head for the big transportation hubs and commercial centres (which is usually the same thing) like Ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ueno, or tourist areas like Asakusa, Akasaka/Roppongi, etc.

The premises of the Imperial Palace mark the geographical centre on the map, but as access to most of it is restricted, it does not qualify as a proper city centre. For most people central Tōkyō is the area inside or along the JR Yamanote line, encompassing all these commercial and historical districts roughly within a 3 km (2 mi.) radius from the Imperial Palace.

=> More on Tokyo's geography and administrative areas

View of central Tokyo with Mount Fuji in the backdrop
View of central Tokyo with Mount Fuji in the backdrop.

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