Tokyo Travel Guide

Geography and administrative divisions

The mainland portion of Tokyo lies northwest of Tokyo Bay and measures about east to west and north to south. The average elevation in Tokyo is .

Chiba Prefecture borders it to the east, Yamanashi to the west, Kanagawa to the south, and Saitama to the north. Mainland Tokyo is further subdivided into the special wards (occupying the eastern half) and the Tama area stretching westwards.

Also within the administrative boundaries of Tokyo Metropolis are two island chains in the Pacific Ocean directly south: the Izu Islands, and the Ogasawara Islands, which stretch more than away from the mainland. Because of these islands and mountainous regions to the west, Tokyo's overall population density figures far underrepresent the real figures for urban and suburban regions of Tokyo.

Under Japanese law, Tokyo is designated as a to, translated as metropolis. Its administrative structure is similar to that of Japan's other prefectures. Within Tokyo lie dozens of smaller entities, including many cities, the 23 special wards, districts, towns, villages, a quasi-national park, and a national park. The 23 special wards ( -ku), which until 1943 constituted the city of Tokyo, are now separate, self-governing municipalities, each having a mayor, a council, and the status of a city.

In addition to these 23 special wards, Tokyo also includes 26 more cities ( -shi), five towns ( -chō or machi), and eight villages ( -son or -mura), each of which has a local government. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is headed by a publicly elected governor and metropolitan assembly. Its headquarters are in the ward of Shinjuku. They govern all of Tokyo, including lakes, rivers, dams, farms, remote islands, and national parks in addition to its neon jungles, skyscrapers and crowded underground.

Special wards

The of Tokyo comprise the area formerly incorporated as Tokyo City. On July 1, 1943, Tokyo City was merged with forming the current "metropolitan prefecture". As a result, unlike other city wards in Japan, these wards are not conterminous with a larger incorporated city.

While falling under the jurisdiction of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, each ward is also a borough with its own elected leader and council, like other cities of Japan. The special wards use the word "city" in their official English name (e.g. Chiyoda City).

The wards differ from other cities in having a unique administrative relationship with the prefectural government. Certain municipal functions, such as waterworks, sewerage, and fire-fighting, are handled by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. To pay for the added administrative costs, the prefecture collects municipal taxes, which would usually be levied by the city.

The special wards of Tokyo are:

The "three core wards" of Tokyo are Chiyoda, Chūō and Minato.

Tama Area (Western Tokyo)

To the west of the special wards, Tokyo Metropolis consists of cities, towns and villages that enjoy the same legal status as those elsewhere in Japan.

While serving as "bed towns" for those working in central Tokyo, some of these also have a local commercial and industrial base. Collectively, these are often known as the Tama Area or Western Tokyo.

Cities

Twenty-six cities lie within the western part of Tokyo:

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has designated Hachiōji, Tachikawa, Machida, Ōme and Tama New Town as regional centres of the Tama area, as part of its plans to disperse urban functions away from central Tokyo.

Nishi-Tama District

The far west is occupied by the district (gun) of Nishi-Tama. Much of this area is mountainous and unsuitable for urbanization. The highest mountain in Tokyo, Mount Kumotori, is 2,017 m high; other mountains in Tokyo include Takasu (1737 m), Odake (1266 m), and Mitake (929 m). Lake Okutama, on the Tama River near Yamanashi Prefecture, is Tokyo's largest lake. The district is composed of three towns and one village.

Towns

Village

Islands

Tokyo has numerous outlying islands, which extend as far as from central Tokyo. Because of the islands' distance from the administrative headquarters of the metropolitan government in Shinjuku, local offices administer them.

The Izu Islands are a group of volcanic islands and form part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The islands in order from closest to Tokyo are Izu Ōshima, Toshima, Nii-jima, Shikine-jima, Kōzu-shima, Miyake-jima, Mikurajima, Hachijō-jima, and Aogashima. The Izu Islands are grouped into three subprefectures. Izu Ōshima and Hachijojima are towns. The remaining islands are six villages, with Niijima and Shikinejima forming one village.

The Ogasawara Islands include, from north to south, Chichi-jima, Nishinoshima, Haha-jima, Kita Iwo Jima, Iwo Jima, and Minami Iwo Jima. Ogasawara also administers two tiny outlying islands: Minami Torishima, the easternmost point in Japan and at the most distant island from central Tokyo, and Okinotorishima, the southernmost point in Japan. The last island is contested by the People's Republic of China as being only uninhabited rocks. The Iwo chain and the outlying islands have no permanent population, but host Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel. Local populations are only found on Chichi-jima and Haha-jima. The islands form both Ogasawara Subprefecture and the village of Ogasawara, Tokyo.

National parks

As of March 31, 2008, 36% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks (second only to Shiga Prefecture), namely the Chichibu Tama Kai, Fuji-Hakone-Izu, and Ogasawara National Parks (the last a UNESCO World Heritage Site); Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park; and Akikawa Kyūryō, Hamura Kusabana Kyūryō, Sayama, Takao Jinba, Takiyama, and Tama Kyūryō Prefectural Natural Parks.

Ueno Park is well known for its museums: Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, Shitamachi Museum and National Museum for Western Art, among others. There are also art works and statues at several places in the park. There is also a zoo in the park, and the park is a popular destination to view cherry blossoms.

Seismicity

Tokyo was hit by powerful earthquakes in 1703, 1782, 1812, 1855 and 1923. The 1923 earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 8.3, killed 142,000 people. Tokyo is near the boundary of three plates.

Climate

The former city of Tokyo and the majority of mainland Tokyo lie in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with hot humid summers and generally mild winters with cool spells. The region, like much of Japan, experiences a one-month seasonal lag, with the warmest month being August, which averages, and the coolest month being January, averaging . The record low temperature is, and the record high is, though there was once an unofficial reading of at the Primary School Station. Annual rainfall averages nearly, with a wetter summer and a drier winter. Snowfall is sporadic, but does occur almost annually. Tokyo also often sees typhoons each year, though few are strong. The last one to hit was Fitow in 2007, while the wettest month since records began in 1876 has been October 2004 with including on the ninth of that month.

Western areas of mainland Tokyo lie in the humid subtropical climate zone with a dry winter (Köppen classification Cwa).

Tokyo's easternmost territory, the island of Minamitorishima (Marcus Island) in Ogasawara village, is in the Tropical savanna climate zone (Köppen classification Aw). Tokyo's Izu and Ogasawara islands are affected by an average of 5.4 typhoons a year, compared to 3.1 in mainland Kantō.

source: Wikipedia

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