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TOKYO

General Information

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and its largest city in terms of area and population. There are nearly 12 million people residing in Tokyo To (metropolis), an area of about 837 square miles. Part of its beauty is that it is a study in contrasts. The old and new, the large and the small, the ancient and the modern exist side-by-side, in harmony.

Brief History

Early on Tokyo was just another town on the road from the early capitals in Osaka and Kyoto to the Pacific Ocean. Its name was at the time was Edo. Then in 1185, the Minamoto clan combined with other area families overthrew the Fujiwara who were the regents to the emperor and established their government in Edo. This was known as the Kamakura Period of fuedal Japan. It also produced the first Shogun or military ruler. This lasted until the overthrow of the Minamoto in 1338 when the Imperial Court regained control and moved the government back to Kyoto. Edo became one of many castle towns that were subordinate to the central government.
However, this was not to last. In 1600, another warlord named Tokugawa Ieyasu wrested control back from the Kyoto goverment and set up his Bakufu (literally ":Tent Government" but actually feudal military regime) in Edo. The Tokugawa Shogunate lasted for about 260 years and was replaced by the Imperial Court and their followers during the Meiji Restoration. However, the emperor moved to Edo rather that moving the government back to Kyoto.
Edo eventually became Tokyo in 1868 as result of the Meiji Restoration. The kanji characters mean Eastern Capital.

Location

Tokyo is located on the Kanto Plain on the east coast of central Honshu. It is bordered by Chiba Prefecture on the east, Saitama on the north, Yamanashi on the west, Kanagawa on the southwest and by Tokyo Bay on the southeast. It sits at about 34 degrees north latitude which is about the same latitude as New York City.

Government Structure

Tokyo consists of 23 wards, each governed as its own municipalty. Some of the more well-known are:

Tokyo To also has a total of 39 other administrative intities consisting of cities, town and villages.

Weather

The four seasons are distinctly apparant. Summer gets quite hot with temperatures in the ninety’s while winter temperatures can occasionally reach freezing but average in the 40s. Spring is usually quite pleasant, however the rainy season usually lasts about three to four weeks in May and June. Autumn is usually quite nice with comfortable temperatures and dry weather. However, Tokyo is subject to an occasional typhoon.

Modern Tokyo

Tokyo was virtually destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II. In a relatively short period of time, the city has has been rebuilt and emerged as one of the major economic, cultural and technological centers of the world. Tokyo is made up of many districts and has no real center. Each district has its own community feel to it and they are all built around a subway or train station. Many of these districts have been in existence for hundreds of years, while some have sprung up within the last 30 years. A dramatic growth spurt in the early 1960s occured as the city prepared for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

In a perfect example of old blending with the new, you will probably eventually stumble across The Imperial Palace which sits in the Chiyoda district amid the massive office buildings, museums, department stores and appartments that are modern Tokyo.

Transportation

Way too much info on this subject for me to do it justice. And it changes often. Please click the links for each of the stations, ports or systems listed in this section for current info.

Public transportation in Tokyo is quite efficient. You can set your watch by knowing the arrival or departure time of a train. However they are usually quite crowded. The entire city and its surrounding areas are laced throughout with subway and rail lines. You can pick up a subway map in any station. And, of course, there are taxies running all over the place but they are pretty expensive. Cross-town travel is primarily by subway however the Airport Limousine company drives vans between the two major airports, the two major rail terminals and other strategic points. They run on a schedule similar to a standard bus route.

Air Transportation - Tokyo is served through Haneda and Narita International Airports. Haneda, located just south of the city, handles all domestic flights into and out of the city with some international flights, primarily to other Asian cities. Narita, which is about 65 miles west of the city, is the main international port.

Local trains and subway system - Tokyo itself is served by an extremely efficient subway system.

Rail Hubs - Tokyo has two large train stations. Ueno Station and Tokyo Station.

Travel by automobile can be a trying experience. The traffic is constant and rush hour lasts about 20 hours per day. Japanese roads are not laid out in a grid but usually follow old trails and footpaths. Learning your way around Tokyo, or most any city for that matter, can be a real adventure. When driving, be sure to allow plenty of time for traffic. I hesitate to offer a road map of the city. However, the World Travel Guide has some good info. Good luck driving.

For info about getting to Tokyo from Misawa, see our getting around pages.

Miscellaneous

Tokyo has three national parks, nine musuems, a large zoo, numerous theaters offering modern, western and traditional performances, hightly rated restaurants that run the gamut of local and international cuisine, professional sports and just about anything else you would expect to find in a large, modern city. Do an internet searce on Tokyo and I recommend the Wikipedia offering for more onfo.


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