Exploring Japan: Tokyo

By Staff Writer
July 26, 2022
This article series will provide an informational foundation about the prefectures of Japan. For this installment, we are looking at Tokyo.
The Tokyo Skyline
As Japan’s capital and largest metropolis, Tokyo is far more than just a big city
While most people think of Tokyo as a city, it is officially a metropolis, administered on the same level as Japan’s prefectures and led by a governor (Ms. Yuriko Koike) rather than a mayor.

Tokyo is subdivided into 23 special wards, 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages. These range from the crowded eastern half, which is packed with skyscrapers and home to the headquarters of thousands of businesses, to the sparsely populated western region of Nishi-Tama, consisting of mountains covered in dense forests.
Aerial view of the Shibuya Scramble
While many people are familiar with Tokyo’s urban centers, like Shibuya…
Tokyo also includes a long chain of islands stretching nearly 2,000km from the main island. This means that Japan’s easternmost and southernmost points are both part of Tokyo.
Tropical lagoon on Ogasawara Island
…the tropical Ogasawara Islands are also a part of Tokyo. These islands boast a unique ecosystem, and have been recognized as a natural World Heritage Site.
Each of these subdivisions has its own local government, with Tokyo as a whole being governed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, a 127-member legislative body, and a directly elected governor as the executive branch. With over 13 million residents and a GDP comparable to some countries, governing Tokyo is a significant task.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
The twin-towered Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building houses many of Tokyo’s central government offices.
In many ways, Tokyo is the center of Japan, serving not only as the nation’s capital, but also as the central hub of Japan’s finance, electronics, publishing, and broadcasting, and fashion industries.

Tokyo is also Japan’s transportation hub, boasting the most extensive and most-used rail network in the world. Because of their speed and reliability, most people living and working in Tokyo commute to work by train or bus, with very few people taking their own personal automobiles.
Subway platform in Tokyo
Trains and subways are transport mode of choice for most in Tokyo, and millions depend on their speed and reliability every day.
Airplanes, however, are generally prohibited from flying directly over Tokyo. Because of this, of the two main airports serving Tokyo, Haneda airport is located on reclaimed land in Tokyo Harbor, and Narita Airport is located some distance to the east in neighboring Chiba Prefecture.
Tokyo Haneda airport, with Mt. Fuji in he background
Tokyo International Airport, also known as Haneda, is the fourth-busiest airport in the world.
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