Tokyo began as a sleepy fishing village called Edo from the 12th century. The important battle of Sekigahara in 1600 enabled Ieyasu Tokugawa to control the country of Japan; he established his government in tiny Edo. This is the famous
when the successors of Ieyasu continued to rule the country for more than 250 years, until 1867. This was also a peaceful era for the region where art and culture flourished.
It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that Edo began opening itself up to trade and commerce with foreign countries. In 1853, four ships from the United Sates Navy, under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry, dropped anchor in Tokyo Bay. Perry demanded that Japan open itself up to foreign trade; the city’s global isolation was soon over.
This marked the end of the
(a peaceful era) and the beginning of a tumultuous period of civil unrest and imperial rule called the
(1868-1912). This was also a period of rapid expansion and modernization where Tokyo became more “westernized” with its first telecommunication lines established in 1869 and the first steam train in 1872, which operated between Shimbashi to Yokohama. In 1889, the Constitution of the Empire was established that truly changed Japan’s political system into that of a modern nation-state.
In 1923, Tokyo was devastated by the
Great Kanto Earthquake
, where more than 140,000 people lost their lives and more than 300,000 buildings destroyed by the spreading fires.
Rebuilding quickly began, and the
(1926-1989) saw a massive restoration and modernization of the city. It was during this time that Tokyo’s airport at Haneda opened up in 1931, and the Port of Tokyo in 1941. By 1935, Tokyo’s population grew to more than 6 million people, rivaling some of the major capital cities in the west.
Tokyo was nearly destroyed again in 1945 due to the raids of World War II. The
plus many temples were destroyed during the war. The American Occupation of the city began September 1945, from which point massive reconstruction began and continued during the decades that followed. Tokyo saw its streets widened, shopping centers built, monorails operating and the famous Bullet Train link to Osaka established. The promise of the Olympic Games in the 1960s further spurred the city to develop and modernize at an even faster pace.
Today Tokyo is a modern, buzzing and noisy metropolis that rivals any major urban center in the world.