Tokyo, Japan


Because of the repeated destruction by fire and earthquakes (especially in 1923) as well as during World War II, Tokyo has only a few historical buildings and facilities. Significant Shinto shrines are the Meiji Shrine, in which the Emperor Mutsuhito is venerated (1920, rebuilt 1958), the Tōshōgū Shrine (1626, in the Gongen style, a fusion of Shinto and Buddhist style elements) in Uedo Park and the Yasukuni -Shrine (1869, war memorial). Of the Buddhist temple complexes, the gate building (Sammon) of the Asakusa temple in the Taitō-ku district is of art historical interest.

Public buildings from the Meiji period have been preserved in the modern Japanese architectural style strongly influenced by Europe: the station reception building (1914, modeled after the Amsterdam train station), the parliament building (1936), the Nihonbashi stone bridge (1911, today spanned by city highways) northeast of the main train station, the Akasaka Palace (1909) in the style of the French palace architecture of the 18th century. Almost all public buildings were residences of the daimyōs, which they had to maintain during the time of the Shogunate in Edo. B. Rikugi-en (1702), Kōraku-en (created in 1626 as a replica of various landscapes), Ueno, Hibiya or Meiji Park, some as splendid restaurants with large gardens (Chinzansō, Happō-en). Ginza, Ikebukuro (in Toshima-ku Ward),

The most important works of contemporary architects include the National Museum of Western Art, built in 1959 based on a design by Le Corbusier (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016), and buildings by K. Tange (City Hall, 1952–57; Olympiahallen, 1961–64; St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1961–64; new town hall in the Shinjuku-ku district, 1986–91; 243 m height, 56 storeys), K. Maekawa (festival hall, 1961; library of Gakushūin University, 1963; municipal art museum, 1975), Okada Shinichi (chief Court of Justice, 1974), F. Maki (“Spirale” business and cultural center, 1984/85; “Tepia” science and presentation center, 1989), Shinoara Kazuo (TIT Centennial Hall , 1987/88), Hara Hiroshi (Yamato International Building, 1987) and the effects-influenced architecture by Itō Toyo (Egg of the Winds, 1991). In 1997 the “Tōkyō Opera City” was opened (by H. Deilmann , TAK Architects, among others). Also noteworthy are the Hōryūji Museum by Tanigushi Yoshio in Ueno Park, which opened in 1999, and the National Art Center by Kishō Kurokawa in the Roppongi district (2000-06). In 2012 the “Tokyo Sky Tree” was opened, which at 634 m is the tallest television tower and at the same time the second tallest free-standing building in the world.


According to Countryaah Official Site, the area around today’s Tokyo was settled as early as the Jōmon period (around 7500 BC). In 1457, when Ōta Dōkan (* 1432, † 1486) , a vassal of the Uesugi clan ruling the area, started building the castle Edo (Edo-jō), the village of Edo, which was built on the edge of the Musashi plain, gained importance. In 1524 the castle fell to the Hōjō, who lived in Odawara. After their destruction, Toyotomi Hideyoshi gave the Kantō plain to Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1590 to fiefdom. He made the then insignificant fishing village initially the seat of his feudal administration and in 1603 the seat of his Shogunate government. The castle (since 1869 imperial palace) was expanded to the residence of the shoguns until 1636 and was the political center of Japan. The approximately 80,000 vassals of the shogun and the daimyos, who were obliged to hold court at regular intervals in Edo and whose families had to live there as hostages, settled in their own districts near the castle. The craftsmen, merchants and servants necessary to supply the court made the population grow rapidly. In 1695 the city had around 1 million residents, in 1787 around 1.4 million; several major fires (the worst in 1657, 1772, 1806) and earthquakes (1650, 1703, 1707, 1855 and 1923) destroyed large parts of the city, which repeatedly, but without a systematic system, was built. As early as the 17th century, Edo was a means of transport for the Japanese Empire and also developed into a cultural center, although the old centers could Kyōto and Osaka did not outstrip until the end of the 18th century. With the end of the Shogunate government, a new era began in the history of the city in 1867. In 1868 Edo was raised to the capital and at the same time received its current name; In 1869 the Tenno moved his residence here.

After the devastating earthquake of September 1, 1923 (death of tens of thousands of people, destruction of around 63% of the buildings, mainly through conflagrations), Tokyo was largely restored by 1930 (around 2 million residents in the same year). The in the Second World War by American air raids, especially on 9/10. 3. City, heavily destroyed at the end of May 1945 (1941: approx. 6.4 million residents, 1945: approx. 2.8 million residents) was the seat of an American military government from 1945–52 (»General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers «); From 1946-48 the trial of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East against the Japanese war criminals took place here. Tokyo, which was quickly rebuilt, had around 6.3 million residents again in 1950 – in 1964 it was the venue for the Summer Olympics.

Tokyo, Japan