Places, Images, Times & Transformations


Capital of Japan. Located on the Kantō Plain, on the Pacific side of Honshū. Tokyo Prefecture comprises the 23 wards of urban Tokyo. Tokyo was known by the name of Edo before the Meiji Restoration (1868). During the Tokugawa period (1600-1867), merchants and artisans flocked to Edo; the population reached one million by 1720, making Edo the largest city in the world at that time. In 1867 the Tokugawa shogunate came to an end, and, with the Meiji Restoration the following year, Edo, renamed Tokyo ("eastern capital"), became the national capital. The imperial family took up residence at Edo Castle in 1869. Almost completely destroyed in the Tokyo earthquake of 1923, the city was largely rebuilt by 1930. Much of Tokyo was destroyed during World War II by American bombing, especially in the spring of 1945. After Japan's defeat Tokyo remained the seat of government, with the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers located there until the end of the Occupation in 1952. Today, Tokyo is the financial, cultural, educational, commercial, political, and economic center of Japan. The population of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area exceeds 33 million people, making it the most populated urban area on earth. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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