Tokyo

Edo, also romanized as Jedo, Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of Tokyo. It was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868. During this period, it grew to become one of the largest cities in the world and home to an urban culture centered on the notion of a “floating world”.

From the establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu headquarters at Edo, the town became the de facto capital and center of political power, although Kyoto remained the formal capital of the country. Edo grew from what had been a small, little-known fishing village in 1457 into the largest metropolis in the world with an estimated population of 1,000,000 by 1721.

Edo was repeatedly devastated by fires, with the Great fire of Meireki in 1657 being the most disastrous. An estimated 100,000 people died in the fire. During the Edo period, there were about 100 fires mostly begun by accident and often quickly escalating and spreading through neighborhoods of wooden machiya which were heated with charcoal fires. Between 1600 and 1945, Edo/Tokyo was leveled every 25–50 years or so by fire, earthquakes, or war.

In 1868, when the shogunate came to an end, the city was renamed Tokyo (“eastern capital”).

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