views updated Jun 11 2018


Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Tokyo, Japan, Asia

Founded: c. 1150
Location: Eastern central Honshu, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Motto: Changes with each governor; currently, "My Town Tokyo."
Flag: White symbol on purple field.
Flower: Somei-Yoshino (a kind of cherry blossom)
Time Zone: 9 pm = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Ethnic Composition: 98% Japanese; 2% Other (including American, Brazilian, British, Chinese, Korean, Peruvian, and Southeast Asian)
Latitude and Longitude: 35°40N, 139°45E
Climate: Temperate; winter is dry and mild, while summer is warm and humid. A rainy season occurs from mid-June to about mid-July, and September through November is the typhoon season.
Average Temperatures: Winter 2952°F (2 to 11°C); Summer 7083°F (2128°C).
Seasonal Average Snowfall: Snowfall is very rarea single snowfall per year with virtually no accumulation.
Average Annual Precipitation: 1334mm (1996 est.)
Government: Tokyo Metropolis is comprised of 23 wards, 26 cities, seven towns, and eight villages. Incorporated cities all have mayors. Legislative authority in the metropolis belongs to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, numbering 127 members elected for terms of four years. The prefectural governor is the principal elected official, presiding over several administrative commissions and their commissioners. Each ward elects a council and a ward head who deal with certain local matters.
Weights and Measures: Metric system
Monetary Units: The yen of 100 sen is issued in coins of 1,5,10,50,100, and 500 yen, and notes of 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen.
Telephone Area Codes: 0323 special ward area (ku-bu); 0426, 0425, 0422, 0428, 0423, 0424, 0427, 0428 city area (Shi-bu); 04992, 04996, 04998 island area (Tou-bu)

1. Introduction

Greater Tokyo is the world's most populous metropolitan area and is the center of Japanese culture, finance, and government. A bustling cosmopolitan city, Tokyo is also a major transportation hub and a world economic and industrial center. The city boasts a large number of world-class institutions of higher education, the highest concentration of universities in Japan. Tokyo was known as Edo until 1868, when the Japanese imperial family was moved there from Kyoto. Metropolitan Tokyo is generally defined as the four prefectures of Tokyo, Saitaima, Kanagawa, and Chiba, while the city of Tokyo proper usually refers to the 23 wards in Tokyo prefecture itself. The metropolitan area includes the major cities of Yokohama (the second largest city in Japan), Kawasaki, and Chiba, as well as rural mountain regions west of the city, the Izu Islands outside Tokyo Bay, and the Bonin Islands to the southeast in the Pacific Ocean.

2. Getting There

Tokyo is located on the Pacific on the eastern coast of Honshu, the largest of the four main islands comprising Japan.


Since Japan is an island nation, the most efficient means of access is by air. Flights originating from abroad almost always land at New Tokyo International Airport at Narita. From Narita, it is still a considerable distance to central Tokyo, and the traveler has the choice of two trains. The Keisei Skyliner reaches Nippori Station and Keisei Ueno stations in about an hour; from both of these points transfers can easily be made to other destinations in Tokyo. Japan Rail (JR) runs a Narita Express that arrives at Tokyo Station in under an hour and Shinjuku and Ikebukuro Stations in about an hour-and-a-half. All these stations are major transfer points to both trains and subways. There is also a limousine bus service to Shinjuku and Tokyo Stations and to Haneda Airport.

Domestic flights, as well as China Airlines international flights, serve the much more conveniently located Haneda Airport. Haneda is a half hour's drive from central Tokyo. Easiest access to the city is by the monorail that connects Haneda Airport with JR's Yamanote line at Hamamatsucho Station. The Yamanote line is a circular line that connects with many major transfer points around Tokyo.

Tokyo Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 11,781,000
Area: 2,820 sq km (1,090 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 98% Japanese; Others<1% (Korean; Chinese; Southeast Asian; British; American; Brazilian; Peruvian)

Metropolitan Area

Population: 28,025,000
Description: comprised of the four prefectures of the Kanto region: Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba
World population rank 1: 1
Percentage of national population 2: 22.2%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.8%

  1. The Tokyo metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Japan's total population living in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Bus and Railroad Service

While the subway system is continually being extended out into the growing suburbs of Tokyo, its reach is limited. The best way to access the city from other parts of Japan is by rail. The various Japan Rail companies, of which there are seven, have lines that reach Tokyo from every part of the country, save the small islands. By far the most efficient means of rail travel to Tokyo is the Shinkansen, the high-speed express trains run by Japan Rail. The Shinkansen also offers access to Tokyo from the north and west, though it is an express, and local connections may be necessary before reaching a Shinkansen line.

3. Getting Around

An ancient city that has grown organically rather than according to an imposed plan, Tokyo exhibits a layout that differs radically from the grid-like patterns of cities like Washington, D.C., or Chicago. The streets follow no discernible pattern, though they might approximate a spiderweb, with concentric circles like Meiji-dori intersected by radiating streets like Shinjuku-dori and Yamate-dori. The geographical center is arguably Chiyoda-ku, where the Imperial Palace is located, though Chiyodaku, with its abundant public park space, hardly qualifies as Tokyo's "downtown." No other area qualifies as downtown either; instead, the city has several concentrated "centers," such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. Other hubs include Setagaya, the Ginza, and Ueno.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The fact that each of these areas, with their distinctive characteristics, shares its name with a major train or subway station points to the primary means of travel in Tokyo. The government-operated Japan Railways operates several lines within Tokyo, the central line being the Yamanote line, which runs in a large circle around the city and intersects with most of the other train and subway lines en route. There are also several private train lines operating in Tokyo. Besides the trains, which run above ground, there are two subway companies, the Toei and the Teito. The subway lines are constantly being extended out to the suburbs, where they often emerge to run above ground like the trains. An extensive bus system fills in the areas not covered by the different rail systems. Rather inexplicably in a city as large and as lively as Tokyo, public transportation stops running sometime between midnight and 1:00 am and resumes again at 5:00 AM. All public transportation in Tokyo, as in the rest of Japan, is relatively inexpensive, clean, and famous for being reliable and on schedule.

4. People

In striking contrast to the ethnic and racial diversity that characterize large American cities, Tokyo, like the rest of Japan, is overwhelmingly mono-racial. The largest non-Japanese minorities that live in Tokyo as Japanese citizens are Korean and Chinese nationals, who are never considered Japanese even though some of these families have lived in Japan for centuries. Tokyo has always attracted Japanese from areas beyond its borders, mostly people from the rural areas to the north and east who come in hopes of benefiting from Tokyo's economic prosperity, which is often in stark contrast to the depressed economies of much of rural Japan. Many of these newcomers, and many native Tokyoites, are young people, who throng the streets at all hours of the day and night, infusing the city with an atmosphere of youthful vitality.

5. Neighborhoods

Lacking a defined center and encompassing a number of areas with a distinctive flavor, Tokyo has often been described as a city of cities. At Tokyo's heart is old Edo, with the Imperial Palace grounds and public parks and gardens. Asakusa is another area that gives a glimpse of a Tokyo that is fast disappearing; there one finds cobbled streets and small shops selling traditional wares, all centered on the beautiful Sensoji Temple, Tokyo's oldest. At the opposite pole of extreme modernity is Akihabara, which is renowned for its plethora of supposedly discounted electronic goods and which becomes flooded with people at the release of the latest software. Shinjuku is the site of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, housed in a 48-story building with twin towers that is just one of many such structures in Shinjuku that makes the area the part of Tokyo that most resembles a modern American metropolis. There one also finds Shinjuku Station, Japan's (and perhaps the world's) busiest train station with well over a million passengers catching trains there each day. In contrast to its skyscrapers' clean lines and the open spaces surrounding them, Shinjuku also includes Kabukicho, a sometimes seedy entertainment district. Shibuya is another area with a huge train station, department stores, eateries, and bars, though Shibuya is a bit cleaner than Shinjuku and considerably trendier, with hordes of young people crowding its streets. But Shibuya cannot compete with the opulence of the Ginza, Tokyo's preeminent shopping district and the site of many upscale restaurants, galleries, and bars.

6. History

Although the site of Tokyo has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the first recorded mention of a settlement is a twelfth-century reference to an obscure village called Edo, meaning "Gate of the Inlet," situated where the Sumida River empties into Tokyo Bay. The temple at Asakusa, east of Ueno station and near the Sumida, dates from perhaps the late seventh century, though the present-day structures have been built since World War II. A provincial general erected a fortified castle at Edo around 1457, but the village remained insignificant until Tokugawa Ieyasu (15421616) took it over in 1590. Edo was made the capital of the shogunate in 1603 and remained so until 1868, though for the time being the court aristocracy remained in Kyoto, which retained its cultural preeminence throughout the early Tokugawa period.

Edo grew rapidly through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and appears to have become the largest city on the planet by the end of the 1700s. Edo also overtook Kyoto to become the center of national culture, as theater (in particular, kabuki) reached a high level of sophistication during this time. The growth of the city was also accompanied by difficulties, such as the fire of 1657, in which two-thirds of the city was destroyed, and more than 100,000 people died.

In 1868, the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, the name of Edo was changed to Tokyo, meaning "Eastern capital," when the imperial court was moved there following the fall of the shogunate. Tokyo's population fell during the political unrest of the times, but it recovered and surpassed two million by the end of Meiji period. In 1872, a devastating fire ravaged the city and inflicted heavy damage on the Ginza and Maronouchi districts, which were subsequently rebuilt with Western-style brick structures. The rebuilding program reflected a larger trend in the nation, an effort to catch up with other nations in the world, in the process of which Japan and its capital were increasingly receptive to Western influences. By the end of the Emperor Meiji's reign, Japan was allied with England and had been victorious in war against China and Russia.

Tokyo has not only been prone to fires, the city's most common disaster historically, but has also suffered from earthquakes. The great 1923 earthquake, which destroyed most of the city, was the worst disaster in modern Japanese history. Reconstruction took seven years and included more than 200,000 new buildings, seven reinforced concrete bridges on the Sumida River, and a number of parks, in one of which the Hall of the Nameless Dead was constructed as a memorial to the estimated 30,000 casualties in Tokyo alone.

Tokyo also incurred heavy damage from Allied bombings in World War II, when U.S. Air Force raids reduced large sections of the city to rubble. After Japan's surrender, U.S. troops occupied Tokyo until April 1952. The decade following 1954 was a time of rapid expansion and renovation, culminating in Tokyo's hosting of the summer Olympics in 1964. Tokyo observed its 500th anniversary in 1957. Since then Tokyo's growth has continued unabated, keeping pace with its increasing stature as one of the most important cities in the world.

City Fact Comparison
(United States)(Egypt)(Italy)(China)
Population of urban area128,025,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was foundedc. 1150AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$185$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$105$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$26$14$15$16
Total daily costs$316$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city31132011
Largest newspaperYomiuri ShimbunAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper10,220,5121,159,450754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1874194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

7. Government

In 1932, the city limits of Tokyo were broadened to coincide with the prefectural boundaries, except in the west, where a county system persisted. The rest of the prefecture is divided into wards. In 1943 Tokyo was made a metropolitan prefecture, constituting a special administrative unit, known as Tokyo Metropolis, comprising 23 wards, 26 cities, seven towns, and eight villages. Hence, the city of Tokyo is a technical misnomer, since city and prefecture were combined in the creation of the metropolitan prefecture. The county section now consists largely of incorporated cities, all of which have mayors. Legislative authority in the metropolis belongs to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, numbering 127 members elected for terms of four years. The prefectural governor is the principal elected official and presides over several administrative commissions and their commissioners, including the fire department and public works departments. Each ward elects a council and a ward head who deal with certain local matters.

8. Public Safety

The huge metropolis of Tokyo enjoys a low incidence of crime that would be the envy of a city a fraction of Tokyo's size. While crime does occur, the streets are generally quite safe at all hours of the day and night. Police are stationed at booths called koban at many street corners throughout the city, though they spend most of their time providing information to people looking for homes and businesses, a necessary service in Tokyo, which does not have a systematic layout or street address system.

One of the primary concerns for public safety in Tokyo is the expectation of the next big earthquake, which is overdue considering large quakes occur every 70 years on average and the last was in 1923. Earthquake drills are held on the anniversary of the 1923 earthquake, when people are reminded to turn off open flames and take proper shelter. Open spaces in the form of parks are maintained throughout the city to accommodate expected populations rendered homeless by a quake.

9. Economy

The Tokyo region is Japan's leading industrial center, with a highly diversified manufacturing base. Heavy industries are concentrated in Chiba, Kawasaki, and Yokohama, while Tokyo proper is strongly inclined toward light industry, including book printing and the production of electronic equipment.

More significantly, perhaps, Tokyo is Japan's management and finance center. Corporations with headquarters or branches or production sites in other parts of the country often have large offices in Tokyo, Marunouchi being the location of many of these. The close relationship between government and business in Japan makes a Tokyo location advantageous if not necessary.

To the north of Marunouchi is Otemachi, where Japan's leading financial institutions and insurance companies are located. Otemachi is also home to NTT, the communications giant. Of course, Tokyo is also the site of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, located in Kabutocho.

Tokyo was particularly affected by an economic boom in Japan in the 1980s when the country emerged as a global financial center rivaling Europe and the United States. The economic upswing led to speculation, and especially to real estate speculation. Land prices soared at the time, as did the value of the yen. The economy leveled out by the early 1990s, but Tokyo real estate remained the most expensive in Japan and held a similar rank on a global scale.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Tokyo was again affected by the national economyonly this time it was not an economic boom. In 1999 Japan began a tentative recovery from its longest and most severe recession since the end of World War II.

10. Environment

Situated on the Kanto Plain, Tokyo is one of three large cities, the other two being Yokohama and Kawasaki, located along the northwestern shore of Tokyo Bay, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean on east-central Honshu, the largest of the islands of Japan. The central part of the city was once marsh and lagoons that were filled in when Ieyasu took over. This area is called shitamachi, or "low city," site of the original Edo. The terrain becomes increasingly hilly to the west of the city's center until it becomes the Musashino Plateau, where Yoyogi Park, the Meiji Shrine, Roppongi, and fashionable Harajuku are located. Other notable places on the west side are the nightclub district of Roppongi and the high-fashion districts of Aoyama and Harajuku.

Tokyo is intersected by the Sumida River and has an extensive network of canals. There is a large man-made port at the mouth of the Sumida, the development of which has enabled Tokyo to compete with Yokohama, the area's foremost port. Land reclamation projects have added to Tokyo's available surface area by filling in the bay and providing room for waste disposal, additional port facilities, and new residential areas.

Pollution of the environment is regarded as a matter of public offense. While the national government is often slow to address environmental issues, growing public pressure has led to legislation requiring industrial polluters to rectify any environmental damage for which they are responsible. In spite of widespread use of bicycles and public transportation, automobile exhaust is a problem in Tokyo. The imposition of emission standards has lately eliminated some of the smog that has plagued the city.

11. Shopping

Tokyo stores bring the goods of the world home to the domestic market. At the fashionable shops of the Ginza, Harajuku, Aoyama, and Shibuya, discerning Tokyoites can procure the clothing and merchandise of designers from London, Paris, New York, and of course Tokyo. Large, well-supplied department stores can be found throughout the city, like Tokyu, Seibu, and Parco in Shibuya, and Keio, Mitsukoshi, and Isetan in Shinjuku. Ikebukuro is the location of the Tobu department store, which promotes itself as the world's largest.

Certain areas of Tokyo specialize in particular lines of merchandise. Akihabara, for example, is an electronics market and is the first place to sell the latest offerings from Japan's unsurpassable electronics industry. Nearby Kanda, in the vicinity of Meiji University, has some 100 shops specializing in secondhand books. Kanda also has a concentrated area of sporting goods stores.

Wherever one shops, and whatever one shops for, one thing is universal throughout Tokyo and all of Japan: high-quality, attentive service from Japanese merchants. In this regard, the invariably helpful and polite proprietor of the smallest shop is in no way out-done by even the most expensive boutique in the Ginza or the larger department stores of Shibuya and Shinjuku, with their "greeters" at the doors and their abundant sales personnel.

12. Education

Tokyoites have been subject to the same national education system as the rest of Japan since the Meiji period, when elementary schooling was made compulsory for children beginning at the age of eight. Further reformed after World War II, the system has produced one of the world's most literate and educated populations. While private elementary and secondary schools exist, virtually all Japanese are educated in public schools.

The central aim of primary and secondary education in Japan is to win entry into the country's most exclusive universities. Entrance examinations are tough, and about two million prospective students sit for the exams each year in Tokyo between January and March.

Tokyo boasts the world's highest concentration of institutions of higher learning with over 100 universities and colleges, about a quarter of Japan's total. One-third of Japan's university students are enrolled in Tokyo schools. Tokyo University, founded in 1877, is the nation's most prestigious, but it is joined by other top-ranking schools such as Keio-Gijuku University (established in 1867), Rikkyo University (1883), Waseda University (1882), and Tokyo Women's College (1900). The high concentration of such schools in Tokyo does present some difficulties, as Tokyo's Metropolitan Board of Education has restricted the schools' expansion to curb overcrowding in the city and encouraged them instead to locate additional facilities in outlying areas.

13. Health Care

Health standards in Tokyo are comparable to those found in other highly industrialized countries. Restaurants are most often impeccably clean, and the food is safe to eat and the water safe to drink everywhere.

Noise and smog are persistent problems in the city. Electronic billboards report sound levels and air pollution indices. Air quality has improved in recent years and continues to improve.

Medical insurance in Japan is of two types. Private insurance is usually held through one's employer or labor union. Public health insurance is available to everyone through the government's National Health Insurance. Policy holders of the latter pay 30 percent of costs, and while most doctors and medical and dental establishments subscribe to the program, not all do. Certain expensive materials (like gold fillings) are not covered, though the plan does provide for expensive procedures.

Health care is provided on a level comparable to that in any other highly industrialized nation. There are many hospitals in Tokyo, several of which are associated with the universities there, while others are private or run by religious groups. Some of the more prominent are Kosei General, University of Tokyo, Showa University, Tokyo Adventist, and St. Luke's International Hospitals.

14. Media

As Japan's nerve center, Tokyo is also a national media center. Television and radio stations and programs abound in Japanese and many other languages, with English predominating. Televisions are engineered for bilingual broadcast when available.

The most famous television network is Japan Broadcasting Corporation, or Nippon Hoso Kyokai, known as NHK. The government-sponsored network produces and broadcasts a wide variety of high-quality programs from their studios near Harujuku.

Tokyo is also home to several newspapers, notably Asahi Shinbun, the Mainichi Daily News, the Japan Times, and Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the world's largest circulation.

15. Sports

Japan's traditional national sport is sumo, where huge wrestlers compete against each other in a five-meter ring. Six tournaments are held annually, about every other month, and are broadcast on national television. The center of sumo in Tokyo is the Ryokugo Kokugikan.

In terms of popularity, sumo is outstripped by baseball, which has been played in Japan since the 1870s and has been known as yakyu ("field ball") since World War II. Six teams are based in the Tokyo area, most with sponsorship from large corporations. Two of these teams, the Tokyo Giants and the Nippon Ham Fighters, play in the Tokyo Dome, Japan's first indoor stadium, with a capacity of 56,000, at Korakuen.

Golf is also a major athletic preoccupation for Tokyoites, though golfers who can afford membership in a club have to travel two hours outside the city.

16. Parks and Recreation

For such a crowded and heavily built-up city, Tokyo boasts a surprising number of parks, many of them quite beautiful. There are over 6,000 different parks and gardens covering more than 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) in the city. The most impressive green spaces in Tokyo tend to be in the northern and eastern areas of the city. These are the places to which modern Tokyoites repair for such traditional seasonal activities as cherry-blossom viewing (hanami ), when people gather to drink sake and picnic beneath flower-laden branches in the spring. Ueno Park, along with the Sumida embankment, has remained the most popular spot for hanami since the days of old Edo. Ueno also contains a renowned peony garden, a zoo, and Shinobazu Pond, where visitors can boat among abundant water fowl and lotus blossoms. Inokashira Park is another large green space with a beautiful pond.

Many parks are associated with shrines and temples. The Meiji Shrine is situated in a deep wood with very large trees. The shrine also has a famous iris garden. Other gardens can be found at Nezu Shrine (azaleas), Nishiarai Daishi Temple (peonies), and Kameido Shrine (wisteria).

17. Performing Arts

Modern Tokyo is host to the latest trends of global popular culture, and Tokyo Dome is the usual venue for performances by the likes of the Rolling Stones and Mariah Carey.

Of course, Japan has evolved many types of performance that are uniquely Japanese, and Tokyo is one of the best places to experience these. Noh drama, slow-paced and minimalist and rooted in Zen Buddhism, can be seen at the new National Noh Theater in Sendagaya. Noh is also performed at night by torchlight at places like Meiji Shrine. But the National Theater, across the moat from the Imperial Palace, is the major venue for traditional performance art in Tokyo. There one can experience traditional court music called gagaku, which dates back many centuries to the Heian period. The National Theater also holds performances of bunraku, dramas in which the "actors" are three-quarter-life-size puppets manipulated by men covered with black cloth. And performances of kabuiki, the marvelously stylized opera-like dramas as elaborate as any from the heart of Italy, are part of the program at the National Theater, though one can also see these at the Kabukiza in the Ginza and the Simbashi Embujo Theater.

18. Libraries and Museums

A large number of Tokyo's prestigious museums are located in the vicinity of Ueno Park. Among these are the Tokyo National Museum (which is Japan's largest art museum), the National Museum of Science, the National Museum of Western Art (in a building designed by Le Corbusier and housing nineteenth-and twentieth-century Western painters, with a focus on Monet), and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (with exhibitions based on its own extensive collections and exhibits of contemporary Japanese art). Near the Imperial Palace are the National Museum of Modern Art and the Nezu Art Museum.

Tokyo's metropolitan region also abounds in smaller galleries and museums, with perhaps the largest concentration around the Ginza. Many small museums are specialized: Zen calligraphy in the Idemitsu Art Gallery in Marunouchi, a large print collection in the Ukiyoe Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Harujuku, and tea ceremony utensils at the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts in Minami-Aoyama.

While each of the major universities of Tokyo has a notable library collection, two other libraries are of note. These are the National Diet Library and the National Archives, both near the Imperial Palace.

19. Tourism

Entry into Japan is subject to the complex policies of the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. Visitors from the United States who will be staying in Japan for a period of less than 90 days need to have a valid passport and obtain a short-term visa. Longer stays require an extension or a commercial or student visa.

Standard electrical voltage in Tokyo as in the rest of Japan is 100 volts AC, 50 cycles. Appliances designed to operate on 110120 volts AC will work on Tokyo's 100 volts but will not run as well and eventually will burn out, though this occurs only with long-term use and not during a short stay. Major hotels in Tokyo have 110-to 120-volt and 220-volt outlets as well and can usually supply adapters if appliance plugs will not fit the outlets provided.

Travel in Tokyo is safe, easy, and efficient, and getting around is relatively inexpensive. The subway and train system is extensive, though transferring between the two different subway systems is more costly than traveling on only one. Transfers are sometimes a bit more complicated between JR lines and private railways. English-language signs abound, and English-language subway and train maps are available at major stations. Tickets are dispensed from vending machines, though there is always an attendant on hand (who usually speaks little if any English). There are many services to aid the foreign traveler, among them the Japan National Tourist Organization.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Japan has many national and local holidays and festivals (matsuri ). The Sanjamatsuri at Asakusa Shrine in May, the Kandamatsuri at the Kanda Shrine in the same month, and the Sanno-sai at Hie Shrine in June are the three major Tokyo festivals.

New Year's Day (Shogatsu)
Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)

National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no Hi)

Girls' Day (Hinamatsuri)
Spring Equinox Day (Shumbun no Hi)

Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami)
Birthday of the Buddha (Hanamatsuri)
Flower and Greenery Day (Hana to Midori no Hi)beginning of Golden Week, a national holiday of several days' duration

Constitution Day (Kempo Kinembi)
Children's Day (Kodomo no Hi)
Sanja Festival (Sanjamatsuri)
Kanda Festival (Kandamatsuri)


Sumida River fireworks display

Festival of the Dead (Obon)

Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro no Hi)
Autumnal Equinox Day (Shubun no Hi)

Sports Day (Taiiku no Hi)
Chrysanthemum Viewing (at various temples and shrines)

Culture Day (Bunka no Hi)
Three-Five-Seven Day (for children) (Shichi-Go-San)
Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro Kansha no Hi)


21. Famous Citizens

Yukio Mishima (192578), born Hiraoka Kimitake, one of Japan's outstanding twentieth-century novelists.

Ernest F. Fenollosa (18531908), American Orientalist and lecturer at Tokyo University, one of the founders of the Tokyo Fine Arts School in 1887.

Junichiro Tanizaki (18861965), leading figure in twentieth-century Japanese letters.

Soseki Natsume (18671916), born Kinnosuke Natsume, the preeminent novelist of the Meiji era.

Edwin O. Reischauer (191090), American historian and Orientalist, born in Tokyo, served in military intelligence during World War II, and authored several important books aimed at increasing understanding of Japan in the United States.

Shigeru Yoshida (18781967), prime minister of Japan during the country's post-Occupation transition to democratic self-rule.

Shinichiro Tomonaga (190679), physicist at what is now the Tokyo University of Education, won the Nobel prize for physics for research in quantum electrodynamics.

Akio Morita (192199), world-renowned innovator in the electronics industry who founded the Sony Corporation and designed the hugely successful Walkman.

Akira Kurosawa (191098), one of the world's greatest film directors.

Sadaharu Oh (b. 1940), one of Japan's most outstanding baseball players, played for the Tokyo Giants.

Issey Miyake (b. 1938), leading figure in Japanese and international fashion design, studied at Tama Art University in Tokyo and set up his studio there in 1971.

22. For Further Study


Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) Website. [Online] Available (accessed November 29, 1999).

Planet Tokyo. [Online] Available (accessed November 29, 1999).

Tokyo Meltdown. [Online] Available (accessed November 29, 1999).

Tokyo Metropolitan Government New York Representative Office. [Online] Available (accessed November 29, 1999).

Tokyo Travel Guide. [Online] Available (accessed November 29, 1999).

Government Offices

Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Offices Information
281 Nishi Shinjuku
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Tel. (03) 53211111

Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau
Otemachi Office Complex, Building No. 1
131 Otemachi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel. (03) 32138111

Foreign Nationals' Affairs Division
221 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel. (03) 35037045, ext. 6

U.S. Embassy
1105 Akasaka
Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel. (03) 2245000

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO)
2101, Yurakucho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel. (03) 35021461

Japan National Tourist Organization
One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1250
New York, NY 10020

Japan National Tourist Organization
401 North Michigan Ave., Suite 770
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 2220874

Japan National Tourist Organization
515 South Figueroa St., Suite 1470
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 6231952

Tourist Information Center
Tokyo International Forum, Building No. 1
351, Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo


The Japan Times Ltd.
54, Shibaura 4chome
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108

Kodansha International Ltd.
1714, Otowa 1chome
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112

Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc.
26 Suido 1chome
Bunkyoku, Tokyo 112


Bower, Faubion. Japanese Theater. Greenwood Press, 1976.

Christopher, Robert C. The Japanese Mind: The Goliath Explained. New York: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster, 1983.

Conner, Judith and Mayumi Yoshida. Tokyo City Guide. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1985.

The Japan Travel Bureau. A Look into Tokyo. (6th ed.) 1991.

Kennedy, Rick. Home, Sweet Tokyo: Life in a Weird and Wonderful City. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1988.

Reischauer, Edwin O. Japan: The Story of a Nation. New York: Knopf, 1991.

Reischauer, Edwin O. The Japanese Today. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1993.

Sadler, Arthur. The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tokyo: Tuttle: 1987.

Schiffer, Robert L. The Exploding City. New York: St. Martin's Press: 1989.

Seidensticker, Edward G. Low City, High City: Tokyo from Edo to the Earthquake, 18671923. New York: Knopf, 1983.

Seidensticker, Edward G. Tokyo Rising. New York: Knopf, 1990.

Vardaman, James M. and Michiko Sasaki Vardaman. Japanese Etiquette Today: A Guide to Business and Social Customs. Tokyo: Tuttle, 1994.

Waley, Paul. Tokyo, Now and Then: An Explorer's Guide. Weatherhill: 1984.


views updated May 21 2018


TOKYO , city in *Japan. Jewish history, culture, and religion were generally unknown to the Japanese of Tokyo before the end of World War i. Although the city had been designated the imperial capital in 1868, Jews who took up residence in Japan before World War i settled in the great port cities of *Kobe, *Yokohama, and *Nagasaki. Acquaintance with things Jewish was largely limited to Christian missionaries and their converts. This state of affairs changed somewhat after 1918 when a small number of Jews fleeing from the Bolshevik revolution in Russia made their homes in Tokyo, and many Japanese encountered Jews and witnessed antisemitism during Japan's military expedition in Siberia (1918–22). During the 1920s a handful of Japanese antisemites founded organizations and engaged in publication, mostly in Tokyo, but their work was generally ineffectual. With the spread of Nazism in Germany and the drift of Japan after 1932 toward closer relations with Hitler, professional antisemites – military and civilian – attempted with little success to spread their message of hatred among the Japanese people. When Japan surrendered to the allied powers in 1945, Tokyo soon emerged as a center of Jewish life and activity in Japan. Many of the Jews who helped to stimulate a wide variety of Jewish activities were among the thousands of American troops stationed in Tokyo during the American occupation of Japan (1945–52). The civilian Jewish community grew slowly during and after this period as hundreds of Jews, mainly from the United States and Western Europe, settled in the city for professional and commercial purposes. Jewish life gravitated toward the Tokyo Jewish Center which was established and maintained by the local community. In the late 1950s some American Jews studied briefly the feasibility of "missionary" work in Japan, especially in Tokyo, but the idea was soon abandoned. A Jewish community, supplemented by a steady stream of temporary residents from abroad, continued to exist in Japan's capital city. In 1971 there were approximately 300 Jews living in the city. In the first years of the 21st century the permanent Jewish population of Tokyo amounted to fewer than 200 people, though the transient Jewish population brought the total up to somewhat fewer than 1,000. These included representatives of businesses and financial institutions, as well as journalists and students, mostly from the U.S. and Israel. The Jewish community center houses the only synagogue in Japan as well as a school (with classes twice a week up to the eighth grade), a library, and a mikveh.


S. Mason, Our Mission to the Far East (1918); J. Nakada, Japan in the Bible (1933); I. Cohen, in: East and West, 2 (1922), 239–40, 267–70, 652–4; H. Dicker, Wanderers and Settlers in the Far East (1962), incl. bibl.

[Hyman Kublin]


views updated Jun 27 2018

Tokyo (Jap. ‘Eastern capital’) Capital of Japan, on e central Honshu, at the head of Tokyo Bay. The modern city divides into distinct districts: Kasumigaseki, Japan's administrative centre; Marunouchi, its commercial centre; Ginza, its shopping and cultural centre; the w shore of Tokyo Bay (including Kawasaki and Yokohama seaport), its industrial centre. Modern Tokyo also serves as the country's educational centre with more than 100 universities. Founded in the 12th century as Edo, it became capital of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603. In 1868, the Japanese Reformation re-established imperial power, and the last shogun surrendered Edo Castle. Emperor Meiji renamed the city Tokyo, and it replaced Kyoto as the capital of Japan. In 1923, an earthquake and subsequent fire claimed more than 150,000 lives and necessitated the city's reconstruction. In 1944–45, intensive US bombing destroyed more than half of Tokyo, and another modernization and restoration programme began. Industries: electronic equipment, cameras, car manufacture, metals, chemicals, textiles. Pop. (2000) 8,130,408.