Tokyo back-ground

When most people think of Japan, they think of the largest metropolitan area in the nation: Tokyo. The city is the seat of the Japanese government, the Imperial Palace and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. Tokyo is also home to 35 million Japanese people. The greater Tokyo area comprises the surrounding towns and cities and it is considered to be the world’s most populous metropolitan area.

Tokyo Taiko drums

Tokyo has been a major part of Japanese history since 1603. After unifying the warring states of Japan, Shogun Tokugawa made Edo (later called Japan) his home city. Because of the Shogun’s presence, the city developed quickly and grew large while much of Japan remained rural. It had over one million people by the 18th century. Even after the emperor’s home moved to Kyoto, Edo (Tokyo) was considered the capital of Japan. In 1869, Emperor Meiji moved his imperial capital from Kyoto and established the city of Tokyo.

Tokyo is a “rail centric” city, contrary to other large metropolitan areas in the world. Public transportation in the city is known for being clean and efficient, although it can be crowded. Railway stations, buses, monorails and trams dominate transportation in the area. Personal commuter vehicles are rarely seen.

Tokyo is a popular travel destination for many visitors to Japan, and the city doesn’t disappoint. No matter what a tourist may be looking for, it is guaranteed that Tokyo has it. Tokyo is known for its extensive lists of museums. Ueno Park is home to several popular museums. The Tokyo National Museum is the country’s largest and showcases traditional Japanese art. The National Museum of Western Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum contain Japanese and foreign films. Ueno Park is also home to the National Museum of Science and the Tokyo Zoo.

There are many festivals that occur throughout the city year-round. The Sanno Festival at Hie Shrine and the Sanja Festival at Asakusa Shrine are two of the most popular. The Kanda Matsuri is held every two years in May. On the last Saturday in July, there is a huge fireworks display held over the Sumida River. The display attracts over 1 million viewers. Another popular yearly event is the cherry blossom viewing in the late winter/early spring. Many parks like Ueno Park, Inokashira Park and Sunjuku Gyoen National Gardens are filled with picnickers looking to spend an afternoon among the beautiful blooms.

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