Tokyo (東京 Tōkyō?, “Eastern Capital”) [toːkjoː], English: /ˈtoʊki.oʊ/; officially Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to?), is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. Tokyo is located in the Kantō region on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture (東京府 Tōkyō-fu?) and the city of Tokyo (東京市 Tōkyō-shi?).
The Tokyo Metropolitan government administers the twenty-three special wards of Tokyo (each governed as a city), which cover the area that was the city of Tokyo, as well as 39 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture and the two outlying island chains. The population of the special wards is over 8 million people, with the total population of the prefecture exceeding 13 million. The prefecture is part of the world’s most populous metropolitan area with upwards of 35 million people and the world’s largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$1.479 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2008, ahead of New York City, which ranks second on the list. The city hosts 47 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, the highest amount of any city.
Tokyo has been described as one of the three “command centers” for the world economy, along with New York City and London. This city is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the GaWC’s 2008 inventory and ranked third among global cities by Foreign Policy’s 2010 Global Cities Index. In 2010 Tokyo was named the second most expensive city for expatriate employees, according to the Mercer and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys, and named the fourth Most Liveable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis by the magazine Monocle. The Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo by far the most Michelin stars of any city in the world. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics and is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
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.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
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 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 (都), translated as metropolis. Its administrative structure is similar to that of Japan’s other prefectures. Within Tokyo lie dozens of smaller entities, including many cities, the twenty-three special wards, districts, towns, villages, a quasi-national park, and a national park. The twenty-three special wards (特別区 -ku), which until 1943 constituted the city of Tokyo, are now separate, self-governing municipalities, each having a mayor, a council, and the status of a city.
In addition to these 23 special wards, Tokyo also includes 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 neon jungles, skyscrapers and crowded subways.
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 features many internationally famous forms of modern architecture including Tokyo International Forum, Asahi Beer Hall, Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower and Rainbow Bridge. Tokyo also features two distinctive towers: Tokyo Tower and the new Tokyo Sky Tree which is the tallest tower in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world.
The current Imperial Palace (Kokyo) is home to the Japanese Emperor and his family. It is located on the former site of Edo Castle, which used to be the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1867. In 1868, the shogunate was overthrown, and the country’s capital and Imperial Residence were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo.
The Imperial Palace was destroyed during the Second World War by bombing, but was rebuilt in the same style in 1968.
The design of the tower is based on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Since 1958 is has been the world’s tallest self-supporting iron tower at 333 meters. The Eiffel tower is only 320 meters tall. It has two observation floors where you can enjoy a 360-degree view. The Tower also has an Aquarium, Wax Museum and other various amusements, shopping arcade, restuarants and cafes.
Highlights include Fuji TV studios; Joypolis – a virtual reality arcade; Aqua City shopping center. Palette Town, including one of the world’s largest ferris wheels and Venus Fort – a shopping mall with over 150 shops and cafes in streets lit by an artificial sky; Megaweb, which has a massive automobile showroom.
Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon)
A Buddhist temple completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. However, the current building (1950s) is a ferro-concrete replica of an earlier building from 1692, which was destroyed during the 2nd World War.