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What You Need To Know

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, and is both the capital and most populous city of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is 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 headquarters. It officially became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from the old capital of Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture (東京府 Tōkyō-fu)and the city of Tokyo (東京市 Tōkyō-shi). Tokyo is often referred to as a city, but is officially known and governed as a “metropolitan prefecture”, which differs from and combines elements of 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 the City of Tokyo before it merged and became the 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 in the world. Tokyo ranked third in the International Financial Centres Development IndexEdit. The city is also home to various television networks like Fuji TV, Tokyo MX, TV Tokyo, TV Asahi, Nippon Television, NHK and the Tokyo Broadcasting System. Tokyo ranked first in the Global Economic Power Index and fourth in the Global Cities Index. 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 2015, Tokyo was ranked as the 11th most expensive city for expatriates, according to the Mercer consulting firm, and also the world’s 11th most expensive city, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s cost-of-living survey. In 2015, Tokyo was named the Most Liveable City in the world by the magazine Monocle. The Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo by far the most Michelin stars of any city in the world. Tokyo ranked first in the world in the Safe Cities Index. The 2016 edition of QS Best Student Cities ranked Tokyo as the 3rd-best city in the world to be a university student. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics, the 1979 G-7 summit, the 1986 G-7 summit, and the 1993 G-7 summit, and will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2020 Summer Paralympics.

Area: 2,188 km²

Population: Estimate 13.62 million

Currency

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  • The Japanese yen is the Official currency.

 

Cityscape

Architecture in Tokyo has largely been shaped by Tokyo’s history. Twice in recent history has the metropolis been left in ruins: first in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and later after extensive firebombing in World War II. Because of this, Tokyo’s urban landscape consists mainly of modern and contemporary architecture, and older buildings are scarce. Tokyo features many internationally famous forms of modern architecture including Tokyo International Forum, Asahi Beer Hall, Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building and Rainbow Bridge. Tokyo also features two distinctive towers: Tokyo Tower and the new Tokyo Skytree which is the tallest tower in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Tokyo also contains numerous parks and gardens. There are four national parks in Tokyo Prefecture, including the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which includes all of the Izu Islands.

 

Culture

Tokyo has many museums. In Ueno Park, there is the Tokyo National Museum, the country’s largest museum and specializing in traditional Japanese art; the National Museum of Western Art and Ueno Zoo. Other museums include the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Odaiba; the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Sumida, across the Sumida River from the center of Tokyo; the Nezu Museum in Aoyama; and the National Diet Library, National Archives, and the National Museum of Modern Art, which are near the Imperial Palace. Tokyo has many theatres for performing arts. These include national and private theatres for traditional forms of Japanese drama. Noteworthy are the National Noh Theatre for noh and the Kabuki-za for kabuki.  Symphony orchestras and other musical organisations perform modern and traditional music. Tokyo also hosts modern Japanese and international pop and rock music at venues ranging in size from intimate clubs to internationally known arenas such as the Nippon Budokan.

 

Environment

Tokyo has enacted a measure to cut greenhouse gases. Governor Shintaro Ishihara created Japan’s first emissions cap system, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emission by a total of 25% by 2020 from the 2000 level. Tokyo is an example of an urban heat island, and the phenomenon is especially serious in its special wards. According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the annual mean temperature has increased by about 3 °C (5.4 °F) over the past 100 years. Tokyo has been cited as a “convincing example of the relationship between urban growth and climate.” In 2006, Tokyo enacted the “10 Year Project for Green Tokyo” to be realised by 2016. It set a goal of increasing roadside trees in Tokyo to 1 million (from 480,000), and adding 1,000 ha of green space 88 of which will be a new park named “Umi no Mori” (sea forest) which will be on a reclaimed island in Tokyo Bay which used to be a landfill. From 2007 to 2010 436 ha of the planned 1,000 ha of green space was created and 220,000 trees were planted bringing the total to 700,000. In 2014, road side trees in Tokyo have increased to 950,000 and a further 300 ha of green space has been added.

 

 Economy

Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world. According to a study conducted by Price water  house Coopers, the Tokyo urban area (37.8 million people) had a total GDP of US$1.9 trillion in 2012 (at purchasing power parity), which topped that list. 51 of the companies listed on the Fortune Global 500 are based in Tokyo, almost twice that of the second-placed city (Paris). Tokyo is a major international finance center, houses the headquarters of several of the world’s largest investment banks and insurance companies, and serves as a hub for Japan’s transportation, publishing, electronics and broadcasting industries. During the centralized growth of Japan’s economy following World War II, many large firms moved their headquarters from cities such as Osaka (the historical commercial capital) to Tokyo, in an attempt to take advantage of better access to the government. This trend has begun to slow due to ongoing population growth in Tokyo and the high cost of living there.

 

Language

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 125 million speakers, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language.
 
 

In popular culture

As the largest population center in Japan and the site of the country’s largest broadcasters and studios, Tokyo is frequently the setting for many Japanese movies, television shows, animated series (anime), web comics, and comic books (manga). In the kaiju (monster movie) genre, landmarks of Tokyo are routinely destroyed by giant monsters such as Godzilla and Gamera. Some Hollywood directors have turned to Tokyo as a backdrop for movies set in Japan. Well-known postwar examples include Tokyo Joe, My Geisha, Tokyo Story and the James Bond film You Only Live Twice; well-known recent examples include Kill Bill, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Lost in Translation, Babel, and Inception.
 

Health

  • The health care system in Japan provides healthcare services, including screening examinations, prenatal care and infectious disease control, with the patient accepting responsibility for 30% of these costs while the government pays the remaining 70%. Payment for personal medical services is offered by a universal health care insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. All residents of Japan are required by the law to have health insurance coverage. People without insurance from employers can participate in a national health insurance program, administered by local governments. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice and cannot be denied coverage. Hospitals, by law, must be run as non-profit and be managed by physicians. For-profit corporations are not allowed to own or operate hospitals. Clinics must be owned and operated by physicians.

 

Transport

Tokyo, as the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, is Japan’s largest domestic and international hub for rail, ground, and air transportation. Public transportation within Tokyo is dominated by an extensive network of clean and efficient trains and subways run by a variety of operators, with buses, monorails and trams playing a secondary feeder role. Within Ōta, one of the 23 special wards, Haneda Airport offers domestic and international flights. Outside Tokyo, Narita International Airport, in Chiba Prefecture, is the major gateway for international travelers to Japan. Japan’s flag carrier Japan Airlines, as well as All Nippon Airways, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines all have a hub at this airport. Various islands governed by Tokyo have their own airports. Hachijō-jima (Hachijojima Airport), Miyakejima (Miyakejima Airport), and Izu Ōshima (Oshima Airport) have services to Tokyo International and other airports. Rail is the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo, which has the most extensive urban railway network in the world and an equally extensive network of surface lines. JR East operates Tokyo’s largest railway network, including the Yamanote Lineloop that circles the center of downtown Tokyo. Two different organisations operate the subway network: the private Tokyo Metro and the governmental Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation. The metropolitan government and private carriers operate bus routes and one tram route. Local, regional, and national services are available, with major terminals at the giant railroad stations, including Tokyo, Shinagawa, and Shinjuku. Expressways link the capital to other points in the Greater Tokyo area, the Kantō region, and the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. In order to build them quickly before the 1964 Summer Olympics, most were constructed above existing roads. Other transportation includes taxis operating in the special wards and the cities and towns. Also long-distance ferries serve the islands of Tokyo and carry passengers and cargo to domestic and foreign ports.

 

Weather

The former city of Tokyo and the majority of mainland Tokyo lie in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with hot humid summers and generally mild winters with cool spells. The region, like much of Japan, experiences a one-month seasonal lag, with the warmest month being August, which averages 26.4 °C (79.5 °F), and the coolest month being January, averaging 5.2 °C (41.4 °F). The record low temperature is −9.2 °C (15.4 °F) on January 13, 1876 while the record high is 39.5 °C (103.1 °F) on July 20, 2004. Annual rainfall averages nearly 1,530 millimetres (60.2 in), with a wetter summer and a drier winter. Snowfall is sporadic, but does occur almost annually. Tokyo also often sees typhoons every year, though few are strong. The last one to hit was Fitow in 2007, while the most rainy month since records began in 1876 has been October 2004 with 780 millimetres (30 in) of rain,  including 270.5 millimetres (10.6 in) on the ninth of that month.