1902 Encyclopedia > Tokio (Tokyo), Japan

(Tokyo, Japan)

TOKIO, formerly called YEDO, the present capital of the empire of Japan, is situated in 35° 41' N. lat. and 139° 46' E. long., at the head of the bay of the same name, on the south-east coast of Hondo (mainland), the largest of the group of Japanese islands. It is connected with the seaport of Yokohama by a railway 18 miles in length. The bay of Tokio is shallow, and therefore not well suited for the navigation of large vessels. The wide river Sumida, also called Okawa(" great river") near its mouth, runs through the town. For administrative pur-poses Tokio proper is divided into fifteen ku (districts), of which thirteen lie to the west and two to the east of the Sumida. Each ku is presided over by an official appointed by the Government, called the ku-chio (chief of the ku), and an assembly (Ku-Kwai) for local administrative purposes is elected every four years by the inhabitants. These ku and

six gun (suburban districts) collectively form the Tokio-Fu, and are under the general superintendence of the fu-chiji (governor). Matters affecting the interests of the whole fu are discussed by an assembly (Fu-Kwai) composed of representatives from all the ku and gun. Order is maintained by a well-organized body of police (3648 men in 1885) under the command of a keishisokan (chief commissioner), who, like the fu-chiji, is responsible to the central Government. Since the establishment of this system crime has very materially decreased. There is also a fire brigade of 2000 men, which is connected with the police system, and renders effective service in checking the spread of the lires to which the town is peculiarly liable. Buildings of brick and stone have lately been erected in many parts of the town. The fifteen ku which form Tokio proper cover an area of 4'01 square ri, and the six gun 27-94 square ri, the whole fu thus extending to about 32 square ri (about 190 square miles). The greater part of the town is flat, particularly near the Sumida, and is intersected by numerous moats and canals, which, with the bridges cross-ing them, form a distinctive feature. There are hills vary-ing in height from 50 to 100 feet in the six districts of

Environs of Tokio.
Hongo, Koishikawa, Ushigome, Yotsuya, Akasaka, Azabu, and in part of Shiba. The numerous residences of the old claimios were the chief characteristics of the town, especially in the K6jimachi-ku. Many of these have been demolished and Government offices erected on their sites; some have given place to new streets and houses ; others, having survived the downfall of the shogunate, still remain surrounded by large gardens, which are celebrated for their elaborate rock-work, artificial lakes, and magnificent trees. Nearly in the centre of the K6jimachi-ku, on an eminence, surrounded by moats, stood the residence of the shoguns, which was burnt down in 1872. An imperial palace is now in course of construction on this site. Outer moats connected with those already mentioned enclose the whole K6jirnachi-ku and a greater portion of Kanda-ku ; one of the moats terminates at the Sumida. The Nihonbashi, Kiobashi, and Kanda-ku, through which the O-dori (main street) passes, are the business quarters of the town. The Nihonbashi (Bridge of Japan), in the ku of the same name, also in the O-dori, is the centre from which all distances are calculated. Nearly all the principal buildings of the city—such as the Gwaimusho (Foreign Office), the Nai-musho (Home Office), the Okurasho (Ministry of Finance), the Monbusho (Ministry of Education), and other Govern-ment offices, &c.—are situated in those four ku. Among the parks, those of Shiba and Uyeno rank first in size and beauty, the latter containing a large sheet of water. In 1868, when the imperial army entered the"city, a body of men called the shogitai, loyal to the cause of Tokugawa, here made a last stand, and during the fighting the mag-nificent temple of Toyesau, on the hills of Uyeno, was burnt down. This park, as also the Mukojima (the em-bankment of the Sumida), and the Asukayama park, which is at some distance north-west of Uyeno, are celebrated for their sakura trees (species of cherry), which, when in full bloom, attract crowds of all classes. The famous temple of Kwannon (goddess of mercy) is in the Asakusa park, in which a continual fair is held, with the usual ac-companiments of booths, shows, tea-houses, &c. The dis-tricts of Fukagawa and Honjo lie on the east bank of the river, and are connected with the rest of the town by five wooden bridges of considerable length ; they are inter-sected by numerous canals, and the streets there are regu-larly laid out. The means of communication are imperfect; the streets of Tokio are in general irregular, and many are so narrow that they are unsuitable for carriages. The jinrikisha, a kind of chaise drawn by one or in some cases by two or more men, supplies their place to a great extent. The introduction of tramways in some parts of the town has had the good effect of diminishing the number of second-rate carriages drawn by miserable horses.
There are no reliable data as to the population of Yedo during the shogunate (see below). Owing to the influx caused by the periodical visits of the daimios with their numerous attendants, it probably exceeded one million during the early part of the present century. At the abolition of the shogunate there was a marked decrease, but the returns of recent years (1,121,560 in 1881; 1,173,603 in 1883; 1,300,073 in 1885) indicate a rapid increase. Of the 1,519,781 who constituted the popula-tion in 1886, 1,211,357 are to be classed as belonging to the town proper, and 308,424 to the six suburban districts. The sanitary condition of the city leaves much to be desired, but extensive improvements are now being carried out. The general health, however, is good, and the enforcement of vaccination has virtually stamped out the scourge of small-pox. The deaths from cholera are occasionally very numerous, especially among the lower classes.
A well-organized system of education exists, under the supervision of the ministry of education. In 1885 there were in the Tokio-Fu 658 public and private elementary schools, with 1563 teachers,—the cost of maintaining public schools being 145,152 yen (Japanese dollars). In the same year the boys and girls of school age numbered 172,653, of whom 77,001 attended schools recognized by the Government. Kindergartens on the European system have been introduced. There are also the shihangahko (normal schools), the chugakko (middle schools), and schools, both Government and private, for special branches. In the district of Hongo is the imperial university, sub-divided into the four branches of law, science, medicine, and literature. Many of the students attain a high degree of proficiency.
No mention is made of Tokio in Japanese history hefore the end of the 12th century. It appears to have assumed no importance till about 1457, when Ota Dokwan, a general in the service of Uyesugi Sadamasa, governor of Kamakura, built a castle there. About thirty years later the town fell into the hands of H6J6 of Odawara, and subsequently, on his overthrow by Hideyoshi and Iyeyasu, the castle was granted to the latter, who was the founder of the shogun house of Tokugawa. In 1590 Iyeyasu niade his formal entry into the castle of Yedo, the extent of which he greatly enlarged. From this date the real importance of Yedo commenced. The family of the Tokugawas furnished the shoguns (or tycoons) of Japan for nearly three hundred years, and these resided during that period at Yedo. Under them the town was vastly extended, land was reclaimed from the bay, canals were constructed, and a water supply introduced. The shoguns compelled the daimios (feudal lords) to reside at Yedo with their numerous retinues during a considerable portion of their lives, and thus the prosperity
of the town rapidly increased. At the restoration of the supreme
authority of the emperor in 1868 the shogunate was abolished, and
the population of Yedo speedily decreased. A fresh vitality was
again imparted by the transfer of the court from Kioto, and the
town then received its present name Tokio (eastern capital). It
has since been the seat of the imperial Government, and may be
considered the centre of the political, commercial, and literary
activity of Japan. It is the channel through which the stream of
European civilization pours into the country, and all recent pro-
gress has there taken its rise. (R. S. L.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries