Tokyo is the enormous and wealthy capital of Japan, overflowing with culture, commerce and, most of all, people.
The core of the most populated urban area in the world, Tokyo is a fascinating and dynamic metropolis that brings high-tech visions of the future side by side with glimpses of old Japan. From modern electronics and gleaming skyscrapers to cherry blossoms and the Imperial Palace, this is a city that represents the entire sweep of Japanese history and culture.
Tokyo truly has something for every traveller.
|POPULATION :||City: 13,506,607 / Metro: 37,800,000|
|TIME ZONE :||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|RELIGION :||Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16%|
|AREA :||2,187.66 km2 (844.66 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||31°47′N 35°13′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.65%
• Female: 51.35%
|ETHNIC :||Japanese 97.1%, Others 2.9%|
|AREA CODE :||3|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+81 3|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Tokyo has a vast array of sights, but the first items on the agenda of most visitors are the temples of Asakusa, the gardens of the Imperial Palace (in Chiyoda) and the Meiji Shrine ( in Harajuku).
Tokyo has many commercial centres for shopping, eating and simply wandering around for experiencing the modern Japanese urban phenomenon. Each of these areas have unique characteristics, such as dazzling Shinjuku, youthful Shibuya and upmarket Ginza. These areas are bustling throughout the day, but they really come into life in the evenings.
The city is dotted with museums, large and small, which center on every possible interest from pens to antique clocks to traditional and modern arts. Many of the largest museums are clustered around Ueno.
THINGS TO DO
- Eat a sushi breakfast at the Tsukiji Fish Market.
- Take a boat ride on the Sumida River from Asakusa.
- Lose yourself in the dazzling neon jungle outside major train stations in the evenings. Shibuya and east Shinjukuat night can make Times Square or Piccadilly Circus look rural in comparison — it has to be seen to be believed.
- Enjoy a soak in a local "sento" or public bath. Or one of the onsen theme parks such as LaQua at the Tokyo Dome (Bunkyo) or Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba.
- Go to an amusement park such as Tokyo Disney Resort, which consists of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea which are Asia's most visited and second most visited theme parks respectively, or the more Japanese Sanrio Puroland (in Tama), home to more Hello Kitties than you can imagine.
- Join and bar hop or pub crawl along with events groups in Roppongi,
- Check out the hip and young crowd at Harajuku's Takeshita-Dori (Takeshita Street) or the more grown upOmotesando.
- In the spring, take a boatride in Kichijoji's lovely Inokashira Park, and afterwards visit the Ghibli Studios Museum (well known for their amazing movies, like Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke), but you will need to buy tickets for these in advance at a Lawson convenience store.
- Take the Yurikamome elevated train across the bay bridge from Shimbashi station to the bayside Odaiba district, and go on the giant ferris wheel — the largest in the world until recently.
- Watch a baseball game, namely the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome, or the Tokyo Yakult Swallows at Jingu Stadium. Nearby Chiba hosts the Chiba Lotte Marines.
- Take a stroll through the Imperial Palace's East Gardens (open to the public daily at 09:00, except Fridays and Mondays).
- Have a picnic in a park during the cherry blossom (Sakura). Unfortunately Sakura only lasts for about a week in Spring. But be warned, parks are usually very crowded during this time.
- Join a local for a short lunch or dinner homestay with Nagomi Visit's home visit program or participate in their cooking classes.
Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo, in what was formerly part of the old Musashi Province.Edo was first fortified by the Edo clan, in the late twelfth century. In 1457, Ōta Dōkan built Edo Castle. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu made Edo his base. 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.
Edo became the de facto capital of Japan even while the emperor lived in Kyoto, the imperial capital. During this time, the city enjoyed a prolonged period of peace known as the Pax Tokugawa, and in the presence of such peace, Edo adopted a stringent policy of seclusion, which helped to perpetuate the lack of any serious military threat to the city.
In 1869, the 17-year-old Emperor Meiji moved to Edo, and in accordance the city was renamed Tokyo (meaning Eastern Capital). 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 Castle becoming the Imperial Palace. The city of Tokyo was officially established on May 1, 1889.
Central Tokyo, like Osaka, has been designed since about 1900 to be centered on major railway 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 States 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: the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, which left 140,000 dead or missing and World War II.
In 1943, the city of Tokyo merged with the "Metropolitan Prefecture" of Tokyo. Since then, the Tokyo metropolitan government served as both the prefecture government for Tokyo, as well as administering the Special wards of Tokyo, for what had previously been Tokyo City.
World War II wrought widespread destruction of most of the city due to the persistent Allied air raids on Japan and the use of incendiary bombs. The bombing of Tokyo in 1944 and 1945 is estimated to have killed between 75,000 and 200,000 civilians and left more than half of the city destroyed. The deadliest night of the war came on March 9–10, 1945, as nearly 700,000 incendiary bombs rained on the eastern half of the city, mainly in heavily residential wards. Two-fifths of the city was completely burned, more than 276,000 buildings were demolished, 100,000 civilians were killed, and 110,000 more were injured.Between 1940 and 1945, the population of Japan's capital city dwindled from 6,700,000 to less than 2,800,000, with the majority of those who lost their lives living in "ramshackle, makeshift huts".
After the war, Tokyo was completely rebuilt, and was 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 in 1978 (some distance outside city limits), and a population increase to about 11 million (in the metropolitan area).
The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of the northeastern coast of Honshu was felt in Tokyo. However, due to Tokyo's earthquake-resistant infrastructure, damage in Tokyo was very minor compared to areas directly hit by the tsunami, although activity in the city was largely halted. The subsequent nuclear crisis caused by the tsunami has also largely left Tokyo unaffected, despite occasional spikes in radiation levels.
On September 7, 2013, the IOC selected Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Tokyo will be the first Asian city to host the Olympic Games twice.
The former city of Tokyo and the majority of mainland Tokyo lie in the humid subtropical climate zone with hot humid summers and generally mild winters with cool spells.
The region, like much of Japan, experiences a one-month seasonal lag, with the warmest month being August, which averages 26.4 °C (79.5 °F), and the coolest month being January, averaging 5.2 °C (41.4 °F).
Annual rainfall averages nearly 1,530 millimetres (60.2 in), with a wetter summer and a drier winter. Snowfall is sporadic, but does occur almost annually.
Climate data for Ōtemachi, Chiyoda ward, Tokyo
|Record high °C (°F)||22.6
|Average high °C (°F)||9.6
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.2
|Average low °C (°F)||0.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−9.2
|Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (records 1872–present)|
The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Bay and measures about 90 km (56 mi) east to west and 25 km (16 mi) north to south. The average elevation in Tokyo is 40 m (131 ft). 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 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 (620 mi) away from the mainland. Because of these islands and the mountainous regions to the west, Tokyo's overall population density figures far underrepresent the real figures for the urban and suburban regions of Tokyo.
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, which administers the whole metropolis, is headed by a publicly elected governor and metropolitan assembly. Its headquarters are located in Shinjuku Ward.
Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world. 51 of the companies listed on the Global 500 are based in Tokyo, almost twice that of the second-placed city (Paris).
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, electronics and broadcasting industries. During the centralised 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.
Tokyo has been described as one of the three "command centers" for the world economy, along with New York City and London.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange is Japan's largest stock exchange, and third largest in the world by market capitalization and fourth largest by share turnover.
Tourism in Tokyo is also a contributor to the economy. In 2006, 4.81 million foreigners and 420 million Japanese visits to Tokyo were made; the economic value of these visits totaled 9.4 trillion yen according to the government of Tokyo. Many tourists visit the various downtowns, stores, and entertainment districts throughout the neighbourhoods of the special wards of Tokyo; particularly school children on class trips, a visit to Tokyo Tower is de rigueur. Cultural offerings include both omnipresent Japanese pop culture and associated districts such as Shibuya and Harajuku, subcultural attractions such as Studio Ghibli anime center, as well as museums like the Tokyo National Museum, which houses 37% of the country's artwork national treasures.
The Tsukiji Fish Market in central Tokyo is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The Tsukiji market holds strong to the traditions of its predecessor, the Nihombashi fish market, and serves some 50,000 buyers and sellers every day. Retailers, whole-sellers, auctioneers, and public citizens alike frequent the market, creating a unique microcosm of organized chaos that still continues to fuel the city and its food supply after over four centuries.
Huge and varied in its geography, with over 2,000 square kilometers to explore,Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to) spans not just the city, but rugged mountains to the west and subtropical islands to the south. Tokyo Metropolis legally contains 23 regions (区 ku), which refer to themselves as "cities"; to avoid confusion, Wikivoyage refers to them as "wards" of Tokyo, which is much more common in English. This article concentrates on the 23 central wards near the bay.
The geography of central Tokyo is defined by the JR Yamanote Line . The center of Tokyo — the former area reserved for the Shogun and his samurai — lies within the loop, while the Edo-era downtown (下町 shitamachi) is to the north and east. Sprawling around in all directions and blending in seamlessly are Yokohama, Kawasaki and Chiba, Tokyo's suburbs.
The seat of Japanese power (both political and economic) that includes the Imperial Palace, the Ministries near Kasumigaseki, the Parliament in Nagatacho, the corporate headquarters of Marunouchi, and the electronics mecca of Akihabara.
Also includes the famed department stores of the Ginza and the fish markets of Tsukiji.
Including the business centers of Akasaka and Shinbashi and the neighbouring nightclub district of Roppongi, the port district (at least in name) which includes the artificial island of Odaiba, the skyscrapers of Shiodome.
Home to luxury hotels, giant camera stores, futuristic skyscrapers, hundreds of shops and restaurants, and Kabukicho, Tokyo's wildest nightlife and red-light district.
The fashionable shopping district which also encompasses the teenybopper haven of Harajuku (also home to the Meiji Shrine) and the nightlife of Ebisu
A major train hub and business center, including Gotanda.
Including Ikebukuro, another giant train hub.
A residential area with a few nice parks and museums.
Old Tokyo (Shitamachi)
Now graced with the presence of the modern Tokyo SkyTree, this ward is home to the Edo-Tokyo Museum and Tokyo's main sumo arena (Ryogoku Kokugikan), both in Ryogoku.
The heart of Old Tokyo featuring the temples of Asakusa and National Museums in Ueno.
Home to Tokyo Dome and the University of Tokyo.
Many suburban wards, including Adachi, where one can visit one of Kanto's Three Great Temples: Nishi-arai Daishi, Katsushika, known for the charming Showa-era atmosphere of Shibamata and Edogawa, a quiet eastern suburb.
Includes the suburban wards of Kita, Itabashi and the quieter northern Nerima, which contains some of the 23 wards' last remaining farmland.
Home to the otaku paradise known as Nakano Broadway.
Half industrial complex, half upscale residential area.
An upscale residential area that houses the student drinking spot of Shimokitazawa as well as the newly revitalized shopping centers of Futako-Tamagawa.
Typical Tokyo suburb stretching along the Chuo Line.
- Tokyo Metro About 100 metro (not JR) stations have free Wi-Fi, with SSID "Metro_Free_Wi-Fi" or "Toei_Subway_Free_Wi-Fi", email registration necessary.
- 7 SPOT Seven-Eleven convenience stores and Dennys restaurants offer Free Wifi service. "7SPOT" to take advantage of member registration (free) can be used for up to 60 minutes per one login is required, you can access up to three times a day. Registration Page(Japanese)
- FreeSpot FreeSpot offering free wireless Internet access, check out their maps of service areas
- Free Wi-Fi Japan Visitors to Japan can use NTT East Free Wi-Fi for up to 14 days, completely free of charge, on presentation of your passport. You can enjoy free Wi-Fi in half of Japan through just one ID.
Good connections are available at Internet cafes everywhere. Expect to pay ¥400-¥500 per hour. "Gera Gera" is a popular chain. Paid WiFi service is also taking off in Tokyo with reasonable coverage – at a price. WiFi services are probably not convenient for those just visiting.
If you bring your own computer with a WLAN card, it is possible to find wireless connections in fast food outlets like McDonald's or Mos Burger. You also have a good chance to find a connection in one of the numerous coffee shops. Just look for a wireless connection sign in the front window or computers within the shop. Note that free wireless is not nearly as prevalent in Japan as it is in the West.
Foreigners are forbidden from buying disposable "burner" mobile phones and SIM cards, but it is possible to rent mobile phones, SIM Cards, and portable wifi hotspots.
- Rentafone Japan Rents basic mobile phones with texting, calling, and mobile internet service.
- eConnect Rents "WiFi-To-Go" mobile hot spots, for ¥ 432 - 1,080 / day and prepaid data-only SIM Cards lasting as long as 30 days.