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Tokyo

Tokyo is Japan's capital and the country's largest city. Tokyo is also one of Japan's 47 prefectures, but is called a metropolis (to) rather than a prefecture (ken). The metropolis of Tokyo consists of 23 city wards (ku), 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, including the Izu and Ogasawara Islands, several small Pacific Islands in the south of Japan's main island Honshu. The 23 city wards (ku) are the center of Tokyo and make up about one third of the metropolis' area, while housing roughly eight of Tokyo's approximately twelve million residents.

Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo. A small castle town in the 16th century, Edo became Japan's political center in 1603 when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there. A few decades later, Edo had grown into one of the world's most populous cities. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor and capital were moved from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo ("Eastern Capital"). Large parts of Tokyo were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and in the air raids of 1945.

Tokyo is a city of contrasts and of innovation and tradition. Explore the latest shopping trends in the retail areas and see temples in the traditional districts. Visit the Shinjuko area with expensive camera shops and luxury hotels mixed with the latest skyscraper design, and a wild red light district style nightlife.

Tokyo is classified as lying in the humid subtropical climate zone and has four distinct seasons. Summers are usually hot and humid with a temperature range of about 20-30 C, though it can sometimes climb into the high thirties. Winters are usually mild, with temperatures generally ranging from 0-10 C, though occasional cold spells can send temperatures plummeting below zero at night. Snow is rare, but on those rare occasions (once every few years) when Tokyo is hit by a snowstorm, much of the train network grinds to a halt. The famous cherry blossoms bloom in March-April and parks, most famously Ueno, fill up with blue tarps and sozzled salarymen.

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