Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Tennō (the Emperor of Japan) as well as the country's capital. With almost 9 million inhabitants, it is also Japan's most populous city. The metropolis is located in Tokyo Bay on the island of Honshū, the largest island of the Japanese archipelago. The city's area can be divided into 23 districts, which constitute the metropolis' core region and have an area of 621 km². Together with the Tama Area and the Izu Islands and the Ogasawara Islands, these districts form the prefecture of Tokyo Metropolis, which replaced the city of the same name in 1943. The subtropical climate creates hot, humid summers and dry, sunny winters. Heavy rain showers often occur in the rainy season (June to July) and typhoons are common in September and October.
Tokyo was founded under the name "Edo" in 1590 and was made the capital by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603. It got its present-day name, which means as much as "eastern capital", under the rule of Emperor Meiji in 1867. In the course of history, Tokyo suffered several major fires as well as earthquakes and air raids. Therefore, the city's urban imagine is a modern and futuristic one with numerous skyscrapers and multi-storey buildings. Only a few buildings such as the Imperial Palace on the former area of Edo Castle, the Sensō-ji temple, which is the city's oldest and most important Buddhist temple, or the Meiji Shrine bear witness to Tokyo's past. The latter was built in 1920 and is dedicated to the 122th Tenno and its wife. Tokyo's landmark, however, is Tokyo Tower (332 m), whose construction was modelled on Paris' Eiffel Tower. It was the highest building on earth until the Tokyo Skytree was completed in 2012. Today, the TV tower, which is 634 metres high, is the highest TV tower and the second highest building on earth and is much higher than the Tokyo Tower.
Tokyo is the country's financial, industrial, economic and cultural centre. With over 9 million inhabitants in the city's main area and about 35 million in the Metropolitan area, almost a quarter of Japan's population lives here. You notice this on a ride with the underground but it is also apparent from the hectic activity in most areas of the metropolis. It is not uncommon to feel lost in the urban jungle of narrow streets, flashing billboards and multi-storey building complexes. Nevertheless, the metropolis fascinates travellers and makes them want to dive into the crowds of people. Tokyo does not really have a city centre or an old town. It is too big for that. Instead, the different city districts and quarters offer a wide range of restaurants, shopping centres and party locations, so that there is no room for boredom. The district of Shibuya is a meeting point for young people and overwhelms visitors with neon advertisements, noisy casinos, gigantic screens and the world's busiest road junction. The numerous pubs, karaoke bars, clubs and discos make Shibuya one of Tokyo's most popular party destinations. The districts of Roppongi and Shinjuku, the city's shopping and administrative centre, are common locations for experiencing the eventful nightlife. Popular destinations for shopping tours are the districts of Ginza and Harajuku. While the former accommodates exclusive department stores, elegant shops and luxurious boutiques, the latter mainly offers youth fashion, colourful souvenirs and fashionable items. The district of Akihabara is the mecca for technology enthusiasts with its countless electrical shops, which sell computers, cameras and other gadgets at reasonable rates. Another shopping oasis is the artificial island of Odaiba. Its many shops, cinemas, museums, exhibitions and one of the world's greatest big wheels make it one of the city's most popular entertainment districts with both locals and tourists.
Tokyo is a city which can be explored by bus, underground or bike. You see many young people going by bike in the city. There are several bicycle rentals in Tokyo and you can even take part in sightseeing tours by bike (Tokyo Great Cycling Tour). They do not only lead you through crowded streets but also through Tokyo's green spaces (e.g. Shinjuku Gyoen), which are a welcome retreat for the city's inhabitants. They are particularly popular during the time of the cherry blossom in spring, when the numerous cherry trees are clad in pink. Tokyo's inhabitants enjoy meeting with friends or family to have a small picnic in the park.
Tokyo can be travelled at any time of the year. Many holidaymakers arrive at the international Narita Airport, which is about 70 kilometres east of the city's centre. There may be a lot of rainfall from June to July and typhoons may occur in September and October. Japan's capital also occasionally suffers earthquakes.