Tokyo is a bustling metropolis and home to Harajuku fashion, vending machines, mouth-watering street foods, and anime. As one of the most exciting and densely populated cities in the world, Tokyo promises visitors a one-of-a-kind urban adventure. Read on to learn 50 facts about Tokyo.
Fact 1: Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolitan, with over 36 million residents spread over 3 prefectures.
- It’s growth has plateaued recently and is projected to begin declining around 2020.
Fact 2: Tokyo was formerly known as “Edo” in the 20th century.
- But during the Meiji Restoration in 1890, the city’s name was finally changed to ‘Tokyo’.
Fact 3: Tokyo is officially known as a metropolitan prefecture which is quite different from a city, but combines the elements of both a city and a prefecture.
- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is responsible for overseeing the 23 special Wards of Tokyo.
Fact 4: Tokyo is one of the best shopping destinations in the world, where you can enjoy amazing tax-free shopping.
- Ginza, a widely popular shopping district in Tokyo features major international labels including, Chanel, Cartier and Bulgari.
Fact 5: The city’s Harajuku district is famous for its playful, colorful mix of girly and punk street fashion.
- It’s Japan’s center of extreme teenage style and culture that originated from a postwar combination of American and Japanese culture.
Fact 6: Cherry Blossoms flower for 2 weeks in April, during a period known as ‘Hanami’.
- Hanami is Japan’s ancient tradition of going out to enjoy the blooming Cherry Blossoms or the ‘Sakura’, and having a picnic while there.
Fact 7: At a height of 1,092 feet (333 meters), Tokyo Tower is the world’s tallest self-supporting steel tower.
- The Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower located in the Shiba-Koen district. It’s construction was inspired by the Eiffel Tower, thus their similar appearance.
Fact 8: Tokyo’s Imperial palace only opens to the public on the Emperor’s birthday and New Year.
- The Imperial Palace marks the center of Tokyo, and the symbolic heart of Japan surrounded by great shrines, parks and museums.
Fact 9: Tokyo has the most top-rated restaurants in the world. In fact, it’s home to over 14 three-star Michelin restaurants.
- That’s a world record for the most Michelin-starred restaurants in just one city, beating Paris.
Fact 10: Tokyo’s Ritz Carlton is home to one of the most expensive suits in the world.
- The room was designed by Frank Nicholson and costs £15,500 GBP per night.
Fact 11: The city’s Shibuya Crossing, located in the Shibuya ward, is the busiest intersection in the world.
- At peak times, over 1000 people cross the intersection at the same time.
Fact 12: There’s a manga comic called ‘Saint Young Men’. Which is basically about Jesus and Buddha living as roommates in Tokyo while taking a vacation on Earth, and attempting to understand Japanese culture.
- It’s a Japanese comedy series written and illustrated by Hikaru Nakamura, that went on to sell over 16 million copies in Japan.
Fact 13: In 2010, when Tokyo officials went to congratulate the oldest man in the city on his 111th birthday, they found his skeletal remains on his bed.
- It was found out that the man had been dead for 30 years, and his family were benefiting from his pension money.
Fact 14: More civilians were killed during the Allied carpet bombing of Tokyo, than the atomic bombing of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
- Operation Meetinghouse was conducted on March 9, 1945. US warplanes dropped 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo, over 48 hours, resulting in the death of 130,000 Japanese civilians.
Fact 15: In 1989, during Tokyo’s property bubble, the grounds of the Imperial Palace were valued higher than the entirety of the real estate in California.
- By 1990, the total value of all Japanese property was valued at a whopping $20 trillion which was equal to more than 20% of the entire world’s stock market at that time.
Fact 16: You can pay a travel agency in Tokyo to take your stuffed animal on a tour around the city without you.
- Unagi Travel is a Japanese travel agency for stuffed animals that offers Tokyo and Hesei tours. The agency will take your stuffed animal to visit the popular sites in Tokyo and they’ll also post photos and videos live on Facebook and Twitter.
Fact 17: After WW2, cuttings from Washington DC’s Cherry Trees were sent to Japan to restore the Tokyo collection decimated by US bombings during the war.
- Interestingly, Cherry Trees were given as gifts to the US from Japan.
Fact 18: Japan has nearly twice as many 7-Eleven stores as the United States, with 2,079 in Tokyo alone.
- 7-eleven opened its first store in Japan in 1974, establishing itself as the most convenient store.
Fact 19: A devastating earthquake rocked the city and almost destroyed half of Tokyo in 1923.
- The Great Kanto Earthquake decimated more than 45% of Tokyo, and killed more than 140,000 people.
Fact 20: Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills is said to be cursed.
- The curse cemented its place in Tokyo’s legends after a number of Roppongi Hills residents fell to its supposed curse. To add to its infamy, the area’s address features three sixes, and the building also stands over the soil where 47 Ronins committed ritual suicide.
Fact 21: There’s a hamburger joint in Tokyo called ‘Whoopi Goldburger’.
- They serve quirky named burgers named after famous celebrities like the Kevin Bacon Burger, Helena Bonham Burger and Stephen Soderburger.
Fact 22: Nakagin Capsule Tower is a lego-like building consisting of tiny 90 square foot capsule apartments, designed to be replaced every 25 years.
- It’s an apartment complex designed for single businessmen, and features a very basic set up.
Fact 23: Butlers Café in Tokyo is a butler themed cafe that only hires handsome, foreign, male staff.
- This is to cater to the demands of Japanese women, ‘a cafe full of good-looking, Western waiters who will treat the ladies nicely’.
Fact 24: The busiest train station in Japan is Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station which serves roughly 1.2 billion passengers a year.
- Notably, 45 of the 51 busiest train stations in the world can be found in Japan.
Fact 25: It takes 7,500 gallons of paint to completely repaint the Tokyo Tower.
- The structure was built in 1958 to symbolize Japan’s recovery from the destruction of WW2.
Fact 26: Takao-san is the world’s most visited mountain having attracted 2.6 million visitors in 2009.
- It’s located on the western outskirts of Tokyo and even has a shop and beer garden at the summit.
Fact 27: There’s a local legend known as the “Tokyo Tower lights down’ that says that lovers who see the lights of the Tokyo Tower will stay together for the rest of their lives.
- The main deck, 150 meters above the ground, makes for a clear view of every major building in Tokyo.
Fact 28: Mt. Fuji is only visible for an average of 79 days a year due to clouds and Tokyo’s air dust concentration.
- Mt. Fuji is visible during November – February.
Fact 29: Tokyo railway stations hire subway pushers or “Oshiya” to literally push people into trains during rush hour.
- Nearly 40 million passengers ride the rail every day in Tokyo. All trains run over their capacity limits, with several running at 200% over capacity.
Fact 30: The ‘Guns N Roses’ concert is the longest concert to be held at the Tokyo Dome, which lasted for 3 hours and 37 minutes.
- Tokyo Dome is part of a greater entertainment complex known as Tokyo Dome City, built on the grounds of the former Tokyo Koishikawa arsenal.
Fact 31: Each Tokyo train station has its unique theme song.
- The man responsible for composing over 111 jingles for the Tokyo train stations is Minoru Mukaiya.
Fact 32: The Harajuku district hosts a big street party called the ‘Harajuku Fashion Walk’ every 2 months.
- Hundreds of people meet up in Harajuku and walk its streets, showing off their extreme fashion sense.
Fact 33: The Tokugawa Shoguns lived in Tokyo, when it was still called “Edo”.
- The city was once a small town on the sea but later grew up under the control of the Shoguns
Fact 34: Tokyo’s Disneyland was Disney’s first international theme park outside of the US and it employs over 20,000 people.
- It opened on April 15, 1983 and occupies a 114-acre land area.
Fact 35: The Caless Dance School holds the world record for the ‘most people to fit into a Mini Cooper’.
- The attempt was aired on May 5, 2011. 21 members of the dance school managed to squeeze in.
Fact 36: The world’s largest toast took place in Tokyo at Jingu Stadium on June 26, 2010.
- On that day, 27,126 people raised their glasses and shouted, ‘kanpai’.
Fact 37: The 19th Prime Minister of Japan, Hara Takashi was assassinated by a right-wing, railway switchman.
- Interesting, the perpetrator only spent 13 years in prison prior to being released.
Fact 38: Capsule hotels can be found around Tokyo with most rooms only featuring a television, wifi, and a console. The accommodations are primarily used by men.
- Rooms are roughly the size of a large refrigerator.
Fact 39: Five million pounds of seafood are sold daily at Tsukiji Fish Market.
- The complex covers an expanse of 57 acres and sells seafood worth around $28 million.
Fact 40: The oldest restaurant in Tokyo is Komagata Dozeu, an eatery that has been serving poached loach since 1801.
- Komagata managed to survive earthquakes and bombing raids to maintain their business on the very same spot for 6 generations.
Fact 41: Yoko Ono studied in Tokyo’s Gakushuin School and was classmates with the current Emperor of Japan.
- The singer, and wife of the late John Lennon, said this in a 2007 Japanzine interview.
Fact 42: In 1962, Tokyo became the first city in history to record a population greater than 10 million.
- The 1960s was a period of rapid economic growth and technological innovation for Japan, which led to the beginning of mass production of household electronic appliances.
Fact 43: Tokyo has the highest marriage rate in Japan.
- Meanwhile, Okinawa has the highest divorce rate in the country.
Fact 44: Tokyo has the world’s highest concentration of higher learning institutions with over 100 universities and colleges.
- Consequently, over a third of Japan’s university students attend school in Tokyo.
Fact 45: There’s a cafe in Tokyo where you can cuddle with Hedgehogs.
- For 1,630 yen or $15, you’ll be given a handful of mealworms to feed the prickly animal and 30 minutes of cuddling.
Fact 46: Tokyo’s Asian Jungle Crow builds nests out of coat hangers.
- The mischievous Crow, steals wire coat hangers and causes area blackouts because the nests are built on powerlines.
Fact 47: The McDonald’s in Ryogoku, serve mega sized meals to the sumo wrestling champion of the triannual Tokyo Basho for free.
- The restaurant has a huge sumo chair three times the size of a regular McDonald’s chair.
Fact 48: Cat Cafes are popular in Japan
- People pay by the hour to hang out with cats since most apartments don’t allow pets.
Fact 49: In Japan, ‘Fugu’ or Pufferfish is considered a delicious but lethal delicacy.
- In Japan, chefs must obtain a certificate granting them permission to cook this high-risk dish.
Fact 50: Tokyo is considered to be the wealthiest city on Earth.
- If Tokyo was a city-state, it would still rank number 1 on the top 10 richest nations on Earth by GDP.