Is Edo Really Ex Tokyo?
When I use the word “Edo”, I always explain as “primary Tokyo” or “Tokyo used to be called Edo”. But to be precise, it is not true.
Edo is a district which existed before Meiji Restoration. In 1871 with the new government’s policy of Abolition of the han system, all the lands were formerly under direct control of the Shogunate and the lands controlled by Daimyo who remained loyal to the Tokugawa Shogunate, were confiscated and reorganized into prefectures with governors appointed directly by the Meiji government.
I reckon that the Meiji Restoration was a coup d’État and I always imagine what Japan would be like if there were not this coup d’État…
In 1871 Tokyo was created with 15 区(ku), districts. So only these 15 districts were ex Edo;
I mean Edo was mainly actual Chiyoda-ku, Chuo-ku, Minato-ku, Bunkyo-ku, and Taito-ku with the population of 1.6 million. Then in 1932 other parts were added to Tokyo and it became Tokyo with the current territory but was divided in 35 districts. The population at that time was 5.8 million and Tokyo was the second big city in the world. (cf: The biggest city was NY with the population of 6.9 million. However, after the World War II, in 1942, as the population of Tokyo drastically decreased to 3.4 million, some districts were merged and the total number of districts became current number, 24.
This is an old map of Edo made in 1846. The territory of Edo in only 16km around Edo castle. At that time there were 0.5 million of Bushis (samurai) and 0.5 million of Chonin, normal citizens of the merchant class including craftsman living in Edo. More than 60% of the Edo territory were occupied with houses of Bushis and the people of the merchant class were living only in the zone within the red border.
I would like to give you some ideas where Chonin was living in Edo.
The area from Akihabara to Shimbashi stations of Yamanote-line is more or less the merchant area, which are shopping districts now, too and this area is called Shitamachi, downtown.
Another very impressive point about this old Edo map is that the town was well organized and well planned, I mean more organized than now. Those who know Tokyo well may agree to me. The main roads are well organized but if you go down the back streets the alleys are winding and intricate. You may hardly imagine where the alleys take you to. On the other hand Kyoto streets are laid out in a grid pattern. So I thought Tokugawa Shogunate was not interested in town planning. But it seems my misunderstanding. The difference between Kyoto and Tokyo was the experience of bombing during World War II. After being bombed, people built their houses in burnt-out ruins wherever and however they could.
In the next article I would like to look back more, before Edo period!
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