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Tokyo Overview

Tokyo is the capital city in Japan and its largest metropolis. Within Tokyo itself are 26 cities, 23 city wards, 5 towns and 8 villages which include several small Pacific islands. The twelve million inhabitants are spread across the metropolis, mainly in the 23 city wards.

Tokyo originated as Edo, a small castle town and became the political hub of Japan in 1603 when Tokugawa Leyasu formed a government there. Edo developed into one of the largest cities in the world and in 1868 the Meiji Restoration saw the emperor move Japan’s capital from Kyoto to Edo which was renamed Tokyo which means Eastern Capital.

The majority of Tokyo was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and also in the bombing raids on Japan in 1945.

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An introduction to Tokyo does not need to publicize the beauty of the Japanese cherry blossoms. Most travelers are familiar with their beauty. Travelers might want to visit Tokyo in the spring, when those blossoms are in bloom.

If a traveler can not arrange to get to Tokyo in the spring, an autumn visit might be the best alternative. A visitor can enjoy the fall colors while walking or riding around Tokyo during the pleasant autumn months.

While a trip to Tokyo in the spring might seem like the ideal trip, there are times in the spring when a traveler is best off not going to Tokyo . Tokyo residents know that they need to have an umbrella handy in June. During the time between April 29th and May 5th, all the residents of Tokyo celebrate Golden Week, a national holiday. A visitor to Tokyo could have trouble finding lodging during that Week.

A traveler might want to avoid going to Tokyo during the summer. The hot temperatures, combined with the humidity, can make life less than pleasant for a summer visitor in Tokyo . The winter weather in Tokyo is more tolerable. Only occasionally do the temperatures drop below freezing during the winter.

The first rulers of Japan did not consider the area now called Tokyo as a choice place to live. In fact, before 1868, no resident of Japan had ever heard of “ Tokyo .” Before 1868 the Japanese who traveled to the city now known as Tokyo told friends and relatives that they were going to "Edo ."

Edo began as a town built around a castle. The king of the castle ruled Edo in the 16th Century. In 1603 Edo became the site of a feudal government on the island of Japan. Edo was not the capital of Japan.

Before 1868, the Emperor of Japan lived in the city named Kyoto. Then in 1868 the emperor and all of his assistants moved east to Edo . They then renamed Edo. They called it Tokyo, which in Japanese means “eastern capital.”


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