Akasaka Azabu

What was Tokyo before it was called Tokyo?
  • Date Published: May 16, 2024

In the Edo era, the present-day Tokyo was referred to as Edo. It was only after the capital shifted from Kyoto to Edo in 1868, during the Meiji Restoration, that the name Tokyo was adopted. As the political and cultural hub of Japan throughout the Edo era, Edo greatly influenced the nation’s history. Gaining insight into Tokyo’s historical progression offers a window into Japan’s illustrious past and the city’s transformation across the ages.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tokyo was originally known as Edo during the Edo period.
  • The name Tokyo came into use after the capital was moved from Kyoto to Edo during the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
  • Edo was a political and cultural center in Japan and played a central role in shaping the country’s history.
  • Exploring the history of Tokyo provides insights into Japan’s rich past and the city’s transformation over time.
  • Tokyo’s evolution from Edo to its present identity reflects its historical significance and cultural heritage.

The Edo-Tokyo Museum: Exploring the History of Tokyo

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a prominent cultural institution that provides a captivating glimpse into the history and evolution of Tokyo. This museum offers a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating tale of the city’s transformation from its humble origins as Edo during the Edo period to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo we know today. By delving into the exhibits and immersive displays, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, the Meiji Restoration, and Tokyo’s remarkable evolution over the centuries.

Divided into two halves, the Edo-Tokyo Museum invites visitors to journey through time. The Edo section showcases the vibrant life of Edo, the former name of Tokyo during the Edo period. Visitors can marvel at the accurate replica buildings, view traditional art pieces, and learn about the unique social structure and samurai culture that shaped Edo’s identity. The exhibits provide a comprehensive overview of every aspect of life during the Edo period, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in this vibrant historical era.

The modern era of Tokyo is covered in the other half of the museum. This section sheds light on the city’s transformation during the Meiji Restoration, highlighting the significant changes that occurred in Tokyo’s architecture, industry, and society. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits, artifacts, and visual displays that depict Tokyo’s growth as a center of innovation and modernity. With its comprehensive approach to showcasing history, the Edo-Tokyo Museum serves as a bridge between Japan’s glorious past and its present.

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a treasure trove of knowledge that appeals to both history enthusiasts and those interested in Japanese culture. By visiting this institution, visitors can gain a profound appreciation for Tokyo’s rich history and the factors that have shaped its identity. It offers a captivating experience that showcases how Tokyo, once known as Edo, has evolved into a vibrant metropolis that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a visit to the Edo-Tokyo Museum is a must to truly understand and appreciate the history of Tokyo.

Remnants of the Feudal Era: Former Daimyo Mansions in Tokyo

The Edo period in Japan’s history brought about significant changes to what is now known as Tokyo. As part of the sankin-kotai policy, feudal lords, known as daimyo, were required to spend time in Edo, establishing their mansions and leaving behind remnants of their grandeur. While many of these mansions have been lost over time, there are a few surviving structures that offer a glimpse into Tokyo’s feudal past.

One such remnant is the iconic red gate at Tokyo University. This gate, known as the Akamon, was once part of the Kōdōkan, the residence of the Mito clan. The Mito clan was one of the most powerful and influential families during the Edo period. The Akamon stands as a testament to their status and serves as a historical landmark in the heart of Tokyo.

“The remnants of daimyo mansions in Tokyo provide a tangible connection to Japan’s feudal era and offer a window into the lives of the ruling class during that time.”

Another notable structure is the black gate located in Ueno Park. This gate, known as the Shinobazu no Ike Mon, belonged to the powerful Kan’ei-ji temple complex. The temple was closely associated with the Tokugawa shogunate and served as a symbol of their authority. The black gate is a visual reminder of the influence and wealth of the daimyo who supported the temple.

The Former Daimyo Mansions as Historical Sites

In addition to these gates, Tokyo is also home to two historic gardens that were originally created by feudal lords. Korakuen and Kyu Shiba Rikyu are beautiful green spaces that provide a tranquil escape from the bustling city. These gardens were meticulously designed to reflect the aesthetic preferences of the daimyo, showcasing their appreciation for nature and beauty.

Visiting these former daimyo mansions and gardens offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the history and culture of Tokyo. These remnants of the feudal era serve as tangible reminders of the city’s past and the influence of the daimyo during that time. Exploring Tokyo’s historical sites allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s rich heritage and the impact of the feudal system on its development.

Exploring Tokyo’s Rich History

Tokyo, with its modern skyline and bustling streets, has a rich history that dates back centuries. Understanding the city’s past allows visitors to appreciate its present-day charm and cultural heritage. From its origins as Edo during the Edo period to its transformation into Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration, the city has undergone significant changes that have shaped its identity.

While many historical landmarks have been lost over time due to urban development and natural disasters, efforts have been made to preserve Tokyo’s past. Museums like the Edo-Tokyo Museum provide immersive experiences that take visitors on a journey through Tokyo’s history. Through interactive exhibits, replica buildings, and artifacts, visitors can explore the city’s evolution and gain insight into the lives of its inhabitants throughout the years.

But it’s not just museums that offer glimpses into Tokyo’s past. The remnants of feudal daimyo mansions, such as the red gate at Tokyo University and the black gate in Ueno, stand as reminders of the city’s feudal era and the status and wealth of the daimyo. Additionally, historic gardens like Korakuen and Kyu Shiba Rikyu, originally created by feudal lords, have been preserved as public parks, allowing visitors to experience the tranquility and beauty that once graced the grounds of these mansions.

Exploring Tokyo’s rich history is a captivating journey that unveils the layers of the city’s cultural heritage. From ancient traditions and architectural marvels to the remnants of a feudal era, Tokyo’s past is preserved and treasured. By understanding and appreciating Tokyo’s history, visitors can gain a deeper connection to the city and its ongoing role as a cultural and economic powerhouse.


What was Tokyo before it was called Tokyo?

Tokyo was known as Edo during the Edo period.

What is the Edo-Tokyo Museum?

The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a cultural institution that showcases the history and development of Tokyo.

What does the Edo-Tokyo Museum exhibit?

The museum exhibits various aspects of life during the Edo period, including traditional art, architecture, samurai culture, and the social structure of the time.

What are some remnants of the feudal era in Tokyo?

Two surviving gates, the red gate at Tokyo University and the black gate in Ueno, serve as reminders of the daimyo mansions that once stood in these areas. Additionally, historic gardens like Korakuen and Kyu Shiba Rikyu were originally created by feudal lords and have been preserved as public parks.

Why is it important to explore Tokyo’s rich history?

Exploring Tokyo’s rich history allows visitors to appreciate the depth of the city’s heritage and understand its ongoing role as a cultural and economic powerhouse.

Source Links

Ready to Discover Your Dream Property in Japan? Connect with Us!

Captivated by the allure of Japan's luxury real estate? If you're contemplating an investment or simply wish to explore your options, AkasakaAzabu.com is your ideal partner. Our dedicated team, fluent in over 10 languages, is committed to providing you with tailored guidance and expert advice.

Get in Touch with Us Now to embark on your journey towards finding the perfect luxury property in Japan. From exclusive urban residences to serene countryside estates, our extensive collection and multicultural expertise are at your service.

Compare Listings