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Tokyo City

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Tokyo City
City of Japan
Coat of arms of Tokyo
Coat of arms

Wako store in Ginza, Tokyo City in 1933
• Established
1 May 1889
• Disestablished
1 July 1943
Political subdivisions35 wards
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Special wards of Tokyo
Map of Tokyo City before the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923
Tokyo Prefectural Office and Tokyo City Hall
Administrative map of "Greater Tokyo" (大東京 Dai-Tōkyō), the merger of 82 municipalities into Tokyo City in 1932, and two smaller mergers in 1936

Tokyo City (東京市, Tōkyō-shi) was a municipality in Japan and capital of Tokyo Prefecture (or Tokyo-fu) which existed from 1 May 1889 until its merger with its prefecture on 1 July 1943.[1] The historical boundaries of Tokyo City are now occupied by the special wards of Tokyo. The newly-merged government became what is now Tokyo, also known as the Tokyo Metropolis or, ambiguously, Tokyo Prefecture.


In 1868, the medieval city of Edo, seat of the Tokugawa government, was renamed Tokyo, and the offices of Tokyo Prefecture (-fu) were opened.[1] The extent of Tokyo Prefecture was initially limited to the former Edo city, but rapidly augmented to be comparable with the present Tokyo Metropolis. In 1878, the Meiji government's reorganization of local governments[a] subdivided prefectures into counties or districts (gun, further subdivided into towns and villages, later reorganized similar to Prussian districts) and districts or wards (ku) which were in ordinary prefectures cities as a whole, e.g. today's Hiroshima City (-shi) was then Hiroshima-ku; the three major cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto were each subdivided into several such wards. In Tokyo Prefecture, this created 15 wards (listed below) and six counties/districts.[2]

In 1888, the central government created the legal framework for the current system of cities (shi)[b] that granted some basic local autonomy rights – with some similarities to Prussia's system of local self-government as Meiji government advisor Albert Mosse heavily influenced the organization of local government.[3] But under a special imperial regulation,[c] Tokyo City, like Kyoto City and Osaka City, initially did not maintain a separate mayor; instead, the (appointed) governor of Tokyo Prefecture served as mayor of Tokyo City. The Tokyo city council/assembly (Tōkyō-shikai) was first elected in May 1889.[2] Each ward also retained its own assembly. City and prefectural government were separated in 1898.,[2] and the government began to appoint a separate mayor of Tokyo City in 1898, but retained ward-level legislation, which continues to this day in the special ward system. From 1926, the mayor was elected by the elected city council/assembly from its own ranks. The city hall of Tokyo was located in the Yūrakuchō district, on a site now occupied by the Tokyo International Forum.[4]

Tokyo became the second-largest city in the world (population 4.9 million) upon absorbing several outlying districts in July 1932, giving the city a total of 35 wards.[1]

In 1943, the city was abolished and merged with Tokyo Prefecture to form the Tokyo Metropolitan Government,[1] which was functionally a part of the central government of Japan: the governor of Tokyo became a Cabinet minister reporting directly to the Prime Minister. This system remained in place until 1947 when the current structure of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government was formed.[1]

Tokyo's administrative structure before 1943 (not different from Ōsaka, Kyōto)
  Tōkyō-fu ("Tokyo Prefecture")
  Tōkyō-shi ("Tokyo City") Other cities (shi) towns (machi) and villages (mura)
(until 1920s subordinate to counties/districts)
(island municipalities subordinate to subprefectures)
  Wards (ku)


(15 wards)
(15 wards)
(35 wards)
(35 wards)
23 special wards
of Tokyo Metropolis
Kōjimachi Chiyoda
Nihonbashi Chūō
Shiba Minato
Yotsuya Yotsuya Shinjuku
Naito-Shinjuku-machi, Toyotama-gun
Yodobashi-machi, Toyotama-gun Yodobashi
Ōkubo-machi, Toyotama-gun
Totsuka-machi, Toyotama-gun
Ochiai-machi, Toyotama-gun
Koishikawa Bunkyō
Shitaya Taitō
Honjo Sumida
Terashima-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun Mukojima
Azuma-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Sumida-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Fukagawa Kōtō
Kameido-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun Jōtō
Ōjima-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Suna-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Shinagawa-machi, Ebara-gun Shinagawa Shinagawa
Ōi-machi, Ebara-gun
Ōsaki-machi, Ebara-gun
Ebara-machi, Ebara-gun Ebara
Meguro-machi, Ebara-gun Meguro Meguro
Hibusuma-machi, Ebara-gun
Ōmori-machi, Ebara-gun Ōmori Ōta
Iriarai-machi, Ebara-gun
Magome-machi, Ebara-gun
Ikegami-machi, Ebara-gun
Higashi-Chōfu-machi, Ebara-gun
Kamata-machi, Ebara-gun Kamata
Yaguchi-machi, Ebara-gun
Rokugō-machi, Ebara-gun
Haneda-machi, Ebara-gun
Setagaya-machi, Ebara-gun Setagaya Setagaya Setagaya
Komazawa-machi, Ebara-gun
Matsuzawa-mura, Ebara-gun
Tamagawa-mura, Ebara-gun
Kinuta-mura, Kita-Tama-gun
Chitose-mura, Kita-Tama-gun
Shibuya-machi, Toyotama-gun Shibuya Shibuya
Sendagaya-machi, Toyotama-gun
Yoyohata-machi, Toyotama-gun
Nakano-machi, Toyotama-gun Nakano Nakano
Nogata-machi, Toyotama-gun
Suginami-machi, Toyotama-gun Suginami Suginami
Wadabori-machi, Toyotama-gun
Iogi-machi, Toyotama-gun
Takaido-machi, Toyotama-gun
Sugamo-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun Toshima Toshima
Nishi-Sugamo-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Nagasaki-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Takada-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Takinogawa-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun Takinogawa Kita
Ōji-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun Ōji
Iwabuchi-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Minami-Senju-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun Arakawa Arakawa
Mikawashima-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Nippori-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Ogu-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun
Itabashi-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun Itabashi Itabashi
Kami-Itabashi-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Shimura-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Akatsuka-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Nerima-machi, Kita-Toshima-gun Nerima
Kami-Nerima-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Nakaarai-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Shakujii-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Ōizumi-mura, Kita-Toshima-gun
Senju-machi, Minami-Adachi-gun Adachi Adachi
Umejima-machi, Minami-Adachi-gun
Nishiarai-machi, Minami-Adachi-gun
Kōhoku-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Toneri-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Ikō-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Fuchie-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Higashi-Fuchie-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Hanahata-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Ayase-mura, Minami-Adachi-gun
Honden-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun Katsushika Katsushika
Okudo-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Minami-Ayase-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Kameao-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Niijuku-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Kanamachi-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Mizumoto-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Komatsugawa-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun Edogawa Edogawa
Matsue-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Mizue-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Kasai-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Shikamoto-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Shinozaki-mura, Minami-Katsushika-gun
Koiwa-machi, Minami-Katsushika-gun

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 郡区町村編制法 [ja] gun-ku-chō-son hensei-hō, of 1878, the law on the organization of gun (counties/districts), ku (cities/districts/wards), towns and villages, one of the "three new laws" on local government of 1878 that also created prefectural taxation rights and prefectural assemblies (地方三新法, chihō san-shinpō, 地方三新法 [ja])
  2. ^ 市制, shi-sei 市制 [ja], the municipal code for cities of 1888. In the same year, the municipal code for towns on villages, the 町村制, chō-son-sei 町村制 [ja], was created. The county governments were reorganized in 1890 by the 郡制 [ja] (gun-sei )
  3. ^ 市制特例 [ja] shisei-tokureiof 1889


  1. ^ a b c d e "東京都年表". Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "東京のあゆみ" (PDF). Tokyo Metropolitan Government. p. 225. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013.
  3. ^ Akio Kamiko, Implementation of the City Law and the Town and Village Law (1881–1908) Archived 10 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Historical Development of Japanese Local Governance Archived 24 January 2022 at the Wayback Machine Vol. 2 (Note on translations: This work and others consistently use the translation "assembly" for the elected prefectural and municipal assemblies (today generally [shi/to/etc.]-gikai, but in the Empire sometimes only [shi/fu/etc.]-kai), and "council" for the partially or completely unelected prefectural, county and municipal sanjikai (参事会). But other works follow modern usage and translate the elected body of shikai (as it is still named in some major cities) as city "council", and use other translations such as "advisory council" for the sanjikai.)
  4. ^ "Map of Tokyo City, 1913". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Steiner, Kurt. (1965). Local Government in Japan

External links[edit]