Geographical review of Japan, Series B.
Online ISSN : 2185-1700
Print ISSN : 0289-6001
ISSN-L : 0289-6001
Tokyo: From A Feudal Million City To A Global Supercity
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1990 Volume 63 Issue 1 Pages 1-16


Tokyo has been the world's largest city twice. During the feudal period, population reached 1.5 million by the end of the 18th century, recording the maximum urban population of a city without experiencing an Industrial Revolution. Edo, as it was then called, had a city plan for centralized feudalism with strict social stratification and land use zoning. It was a pedestrian city, a result being a dominance of narrow roads even today. The bi-nuclear city plan, with its intended “irregularity”, still influences the urban spatial structure of present-day Tokyo.
Modernization proceeded rapidly after the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The railroad age has deeprooted in the Japanese soil, and Tokyo still is constructing new lines. Efficiency has long been looked for, having resulted in the realization of an extremely dense rail network, and also in the expectation to be a leading information center in the global society, but yet the destruction of traditional townscapes, the insufficient supply of adequate houses, etc. are the problems. The loose planning has caused a concentration of more than 30 million people and a mix of all urban functions. Terrible congestion occurs at certain spots, but so far, Tokyo does not seem to be paralyzed. Rather it seems to invite more inmigrants in its expanding metropolitan region. Greater Tokyo is now growing rapidly as a global supercity. But the possible catastrophes, natural and politico-economic, still are unnegligible topics, if not nightmares, among the Tokyo citizens.

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