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History of Tokyo

Edo era (1603-1867)

The history of the city of Tokyo extends approximately 400 years ago. At the beginning Tokyo was called Edo; the history of Tokyo had many changes. All happened when Ieyasu Tokugawa won the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, the most important battle in the history of Japan, and soon took control of the country. In 1603, he established his government in Edo. Kyoto continued as the official capital, for the emperor stayed there, but it was the Shogun Ieyasu who was the most powerful man in the country.

Soon, people and economy commenced to focus in the new city in the east. Ieyasu dedicated his life in making the basis of Tokugawa family Shogunate which he succeeded, and his successor kept on ruling the country for more than 250 years, until 1867.

This was the period known as Edo era. People lived in peace, and culture like Kabuki or Ukiyo-e grew. The population of the city was already over a million in the 18th century.

But in 1853, the American general Perry arrived to Japan with 4 battle ships huge enough to terrorize people of Edo, who had not experienced war for over 2 centuries. Perry claimed Edo government to open the country that had been closed long against foreign countries.

This started the Meiji restoration - end of Tokugawa shogunate and the restoration of imperial rule, through civil wars and great confusion.
In 1868, the emperor went to Edo and renamed the city to Tokyo. Consequently, Tokyo became the capital of Japan both officially and substantially.

Meiji, Taisho, and early Showa era (1868-1945)

From the fear of the falling more behind from western countries and the hunger for foreign culture, Japan's population, particularly those in Tokyo, they assimilated the organization of the western civilization greedily. In 1869 the telecommunication services had commenced and the locomotive in 1872. People were paving roads, and built western styled buildings with bricks and stones.

The modernization seemed to go quickly, but in September 1923, Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed the city. Really the fire caused more damage approximately 140 000 deaths and 440 000 building demolitions, equivalent to 1.4 times the national budget at that time.

People constructed the city again from rubble, but their desperateness lead to the opening of subway in 1927, Haneda airport in 1931, and Tokyo port in 1941.

But at this time, Japan became a place with a strong militarism, and the war with the United States, began. After Tokyo was air-bombed nearly 130 times, among which the largest attack on March 10th 1945, killing 100,000 Tokyo residents.

When the war had ended and Japan had lost in August 1945, the population of the city descended to 3 million, about the half of the number before the war.

Showa and Heisei era (1946 - Next Years)

The general McAurther and the American general headquarters took the control; Tokyo commenced its third reconstruction. In 1947 the new constitution was established, and in 1949, the 23 special ward system started in the present style. In the year of 1952, the American general headquarters left Tokyo and Japan recovered its sovereignty. But it was the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 that made Japanese people feel the real restoration. Same year, Shinkan-sen (bullet train) started its service among Tokyo and Osaka.

This period among 60's and 70's, Japan grew rapidly and this period was known as "high-level economic growth period". Albeit it came to an end in 1973 by the oil shock, Japan's economy started to grow again in the 80's - but this time, thing was distinct.

During this period, banks were so sure that the rise would never stop, so they would ask companies to make huge loans to buy more land. It seemed incredible, that an average citizen could buy a house in Tokyo.

However, the next decade came the burst of the economic bubble. Nobody believed that a bank would go bankrupt, but even main banks had to experiment tough realities. 90's in Japan is known as "a decade lost". The economy remained stagnant, or went even worth.

Now, four years after the arrival of the new century, signs of recovery started to show at last.

And Tokyo wishes to open a new phase, as a true international city. Under the government run "Yokoso! - welcome Japan campaign", Tokyo wishes to get visits of foreign people more than ever. The goal is 10 million people annually by the year 2010.

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