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Old Edo village

  • The small village Edo was inhabited by the old Edo clan already in the 12th century. They fortified it throughout the years and in 1457 the construction of the impressive Edo Castle began in the East Garden of the Imperial Palace.
  • It was not until 1590, when Tokugawa Ieyasu established himself in Edo, that Edo got a central role in the country. He became the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603. Relatively peaceful times followed during the next centuries. Despite many natural disasters, such as fires and earthquakes that stroke the city, Edo became the political and cultural centre of Japan. By the mid-eighteenth century the population had risen to over a million.
  • The peace lasted until the American Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived and forced the country to allow import of foreign goods. This drove prices up and eventually led to inflation. It all resulted in riots among the population and finally the last Tokugawa shogun, Yoshinobu, was overthrown in 1867.

The Meiji, the Taisho and the Showa eras

  • A new era began with the Emperor Meiji who moved from Kyoto to Edo, now being renamed to Tokyo. With this Japan’s capital changed location from Kyoto to Tokyo. During the Meiji era (1868-1912) Tokyo became a city with stone and brick houses, paved roads, telecommunication lines, steam locomotives and partly adopted western lifestyle.
  • During the Taisho era (1912-1926) Tokyo attracted even more people, the education level rose and the culture flourished.
  • The Showa era (1926-1989), beginning shortly after the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake, brought further urban and political development and welfare to the metropolis.

Facts about Tokyo in recent times

  • The Pacific War which broke out in 1941 brought about further changes and the metropolitan administrative system was established. During the war there were heavy bombings of Tokyo resulting in a great loss. When the war ended in 1945, facts were that the population in Tokyo was only about half of the size in 1940, namely 2.8 million.
  • In May 1947 the new Constitution of Japan was introduced, and Seiichiro Yasui was elected the first Governor of Tokyo. Shortly, the special 23-ward system was introduced in Tokyo.
  • Tokyo held the Summer Olympics 1964. During the following decades many technological inventions became part of the everyday life, and the standard of living changed accordingly. Expressways and Shinkansen trains contributed significantly to the new infrastructure. After the Oil Crisis in 1973 was over, Japan played a leading role in the development of technology, engaged in global activities and experienced a rapid economic growth. Tokyo’s population increased to 11 million!
  • However, the Lost Decade of Japan, occurred in the 1980s. A debt bubble developed – and burst in 1990 bringing about a tremendous recession. Since then Japan has taken steps to recover again.
  • Japan was in 2011 set back by an earthquake and the resulting tsunami causing a disaster on the nuclear power plant Fukushima Daiichi.
  • Nevertheless, modern Tokyo is again a cultural magnet and attracts every year large numbers of tourists. Tokyo is known to the world as the safe, civilised, clean and efficient Asian metropolis to travel in – with a rich history and an interesting cultural life.


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Facts about Tokyo – Travel Guide

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Facts about Tokyo Travel Guide

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