officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. It is the seat of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese government. Tokyo is in the Kantō region on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Formerly known as Edo it has been the de facto seat of government since 1603 when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarter but only became the capital and was renamed Tokyo after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from the old capital of Kyoto in 1868. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former and the .
Tokyo is often referred to and thought of as a city, but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of both a city and a prefecture; a characteristic unique to Tokyo. The Tokyo metropolitan government administers the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo (each governed as an individual city), which cover the area that was formerly the City of Tokyo before it merged and became the subsequent metropolitan prefecture in 1943. The metropolitan government also administers 39 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture and the two outlying island chains. The population of the special wards is over 9 million people, with the total population of the prefecture exceeding 13 million. The prefecture is part of the world's most populous metropolitan area with upwards of 37.8 million people and the world's largest urban agglomeration economy. The city hosts 51 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, the highest number of any city. The city is also home of various television networks like Fuji TV and the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
The city is considered an alpha+ world city—as listed by the GaWC's 2008 inventory—and in 2014, Tokyo was ranked first in the "Best overall experience" category of TripAdvisor's World City Survey (the city also ranked first in the following categories: "Helpfulness of locals", "Nightlife", "Shopping", "Local public transportation" and "Cleanliness of streets"). In 2013, Tokyo was named the third most expensive city for expatriates, according to the Mercer consulting firm, and the world's most expensive city, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's cost-of-living survey. In 2009 Tokyo was named the third Most Liveable City by the magazine Monocle. The Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo by far the most Michelin stars of any city in the world.
Pre-1869 (Edo Period)
Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo, in what was formerly part of the old Musashi Province. Edo was first fortified by the Edo clan, in the late twelfth century. In 1457, Ōta Dōkan built Edo Castle. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu made Edo his base and when he became shogun in 1603, the town became the center of his nationwide military government. During the subsequent Edo period, Edo grew into one of the largest cities in the world with a population topping one million by the 18th century. Edo became the de facto capital of Japan even while the emperor lived in Kyoto, the imperial capital. During this time, the city enjoyed a prolonged period of peace known as the Pax Tokugawa, and in the presence of such peace, Edo adopted a stringent policy of seclusion, which helped to perpetuate the lack of any serious military threat to the city. The absence of war-inflicted devastation allowed Edo to devote the majority of its resources to rebuilding in the wake of the consistent fires, earthquakes, and other devastating natural disasters that plagued the city. However, this prolonged period of seclusion came to an end with the arrival of American Commodore, Matthew C. Perry in 1853. Commodore Perry negotiated the opening of the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate, leading to an increase in the demand for new foreign goods and subsequently a severe rise in inflation. Social unrest mounted in the wake of these higher prices and culminated in wide spread rebellions and demonstrations, especially in the form of the "smashing" of rice establishments. Meanwhile, supporters of the Meiji Emperor leveraged the disruption that these widespread rebellious demonstrations were causing to further consolidate power by overthrowing last Tokugawa shogun, Yoshinobu, in 1867. After about 263 years, the Pax Tokugawa came to an end.
In 1869, the 17-year-old Emperor Meiji moved to Edo, and in accordance the city was renamed Tokyo (meaning Eastern Capital). Tokyo was already the nation's political and cultural center, and the emperor's residence made it a de facto imperial capital as well, with the former Edo Castle becoming the Imperial Palace. The city of Tokyo was established.
Central Tokyo, like Osaka, has been designed since about 1900 to be centered on major railway stations in a high-density fashion, so suburban railways were built relatively cheaply at street level and with their own right-of-way. This differs from many cities in the United States that are low-density and automobile-centric. Though expressways have been built in Tokyo, the basic design has not changed.
In 1943, the city of Tokyo merged with the "Metropolitan Prefecture" of Tokyo.
After the war, Tokyo was completely rebuilt, and was showcased to the world during the 1964 Summer Olympics. The 1970s brought new high-rise developments such as Sunshine 60, a new and controversial airport at Narita in 1978 (some distance outside city limits), and a population increase to about 11 million (in the metropolitan area).
Tokyo's subway and commuter rail network became one of the busiest in the world as more and more people moved to the area. In the 1980s, real estate prices skyrocketed during a real estate and debt bubble. The bubble burst in the early 1990s, and many companies, banks, and individuals were caught with mortgage backed debts while real estate was shrinking in value. A major recession followed, making the 1990s Japan's "Lost Decade" from which it is now slowly recovering.
Tokyo still sees new urban developments on large lots of less profitable land. Recent projects include Ebisu Garden Place, Tennozu Isle, Shiodome, Roppongi Hills, Shinagawa (now also a Shinkansen station), and the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station. Buildings of significance are demolished for more up-to-date shopping facilities such as Omotesando Hills.
Land reclamation projects in Tokyo have also been going on for centuries. The most prominent is the Odaiba area, now a major shopping and entertainment center. Various plans have been proposed for transferring national government functions from Tokyo to secondary capitals in other regions of Japan, in order to slow down rapid development in Tokyo and revitalize economically lagging areas of the country. These plans have been controversial within Japan and have yet to be realized.
The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of the northeastern coast of Honshu was felt in Tokyo. However, due to Tokyo's earthquake-resistant infrastructure, damage in Tokyo was very minor compared to areas directly hit by the tsunami, although activity in the city was largely halted. The subsequent nuclear crisis caused by the tsunami has also largely left Tokyo unaffected, despite occasional spikes in radiation levels.