Tokyo (東京 Tōkyō) is the enormous and wealthy capital of Japan, and also its main city, overflowing with culture, commerce, and most of all, people. As the most populated urban area in the world, Tokyo is a fascinating and dynamic metropolis that mixes foreign influences, consumer culture and global business along with remnants of the capital of old Japan. From modern electronics and gleaming skyscrapers to cherry blossoms and the Imperial Palace, this city represents the entire sweep of Japanese history and culture. Tokyo truly has something for every traveller.
First, some quick definitions. The capital of Japan is not a city, but is actually Tokyo Metropolis (東京都 Tōkyō-to), which apart from the name is indistinguishable from a prefecture: it's equal in status with the other 46 prefectures, and is about as big (containing large suburban and even rural areas to the west, as well as islands as far as 1,000 km (620 mi) south). Even more strangely, there is no such thing as the "city of Tokyo". What most people, both foreigners and Japanese, are thinking of when they hear "Tokyo" is the special wards of Tokyo (特別区 tokubetsu-ku), sometimes just called the 23 wards (23区 nijūsan-ku). They're somewhat like the boroughs of London or New York, except there's no "city government" banding them together. The wards refer to themselves as "cities" in English (since they behave as such, each having its own mayor and council), but to avoid confusion, most people prefer to call them "wards".
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