Edo (江戸, "bay-entrance" or "estuary"), 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
2 Government and administration
5 See also
8 External links
From the establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu headquarters at Edo, the
town became the de facto capital and center of political power,
Kyoto remained the formal capital of the country.
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.
Edo in the 1840s
In 1868, when the shogunate came to an end, the city was renamed Tokyo
("eastern capital"). The emperor moved his residence to Tokyo, making
the city the formal capital of Japan:
Keiō 4: On the 17th day of the 7th month (September 3, 1868),
Keiō 4: On the 27th day of the 8th month (October 12, 1868), Emperor
Meiji was crowned in the Shishin-den in Kyoto.
Keiō 4: On the eighth day of the ninth month (October 23, 1868), the
nengō was formally changed from
Keiō to Meiji and a general amnesty
Meiji 2: On the 23rd day of the 10th month (1868), the emperor went to
Edo castle became an imperial palace.
Scroll depicting the Great Fire of Meireki
Ishimaru Sadatsuga was the magistrate of
Edo in 1661.
Government and administration
Roju were senior officials that looked over the
Machi-bugyō (City Commissioners) were in
charge of protecting the citizens and merchants of Edo, and
Kanjō-bugyō (finance commissioners) were responsible for the
financial matters of the Shogunate. 
Chōnin-room exhibit at the Fukagawa
The city was laid out as a castle town around
Edo Castle. The area
surrounding the castle known as Yamanote consisted largely of daimyō
mansions, whose families lived in
Edo as part of the sankin kōtai
system; the daimyō made journeys in alternating years to Edo, and
used the mansions for their entourages. It was this extensive samurai
class which defined the character of Edo, particularly in contrast to
the two major cities of
Osaka neither of which were ruled by
a daimyō or had a significant samurai population. Kyoto's character
was defined by the Imperial Court, the court nobles, its Buddhist
temples and its history;
Osaka was the country's commercial center,
dominated by the chōnin or the merchant class.
Areas further from the center were the domain of the chōnin (町人,
"townsfolk"). The area known as
Shitamachi (下町, "lower town" or
"downtown"), northeast of the castle, was a center of urban culture.
The ancient Buddhist temple of
Sensō-ji still stands in Asakusa,
marking the center of an area of traditional
Shitamachi culture. Some
shops in the streets near the temple have existed continuously in the
same location since the
The Sumida River, then called the Great River (大川, Ōkawa), ran
along the eastern edge of the city. The shogunate's official
rice-storage warehouses, other official buildings and some of the
city's best-known restaurants were located here.
Nihonbashi in Edo, ukiyo-e print by Hiroshige
Japan Bridge" (日本橋, Nihon-bashi) marked the center of the
city's commercial center, an area also known as Kuramae (蔵前, "in
front of the storehouses"). Fishermen, craftsmen and other producers
and retailers operated here. Shippers managed ships known as tarubune
to and from
Osaka and other cities, bringing goods into the city or
transferring them from sea routes to river barges or land routes such
as the Tōkaidō. This area remains the center of Tokyo's financial
and business district.
The northeastern corner of the city was considered a dangerous
direction in traditional onmyōdō (cosmology), and is protected from
evil by a number of temples including
Sensō-ji and Kan'ei-ji. Beyond
this were the districts of the eta or outcasts, who performed
"unclean" work and were separated from the main parts of the city. A
long dirt path, which was a short distance north of the eta districts,
extended west from the riverbank leading along the northern edge of
the city to the
Yoshiwara pleasure districts. Previously located
within the city proper near Asakusa, the districts were rebuilt in
this more-remote location after the
Great Fire of Meireki
Great Fire of Meireki in 1657.
Edo, 1865 or 1866.
Photochrom print. Five albumen prints joined to
form a panorama. Photographer: Felice Beato
Tokyo for photographs of the modern city.
Fires in Edo
1703 Genroku earthquake
Edokko (native of Edo)
History of Tokyo
Iki (a Japanese aesthetic ideal)
^ a b c Sansom, George. A History of Japan: 1615–1867, p. 114.
^ US Department of State. (1906). A digest of international law as
embodied in diplomatic discussions, treaties and other international
agreements (John Bassett Moore, ed.), Vol. 5, p. 759; excerpt, "The
Mikado, on assuming the exercise of power at Yedo, changed the name of
the city to Tokio".
^ Gordon, Andrew. (2003). A Modern History of
Japan from Tokugawa
Times to the Present, p. 23.
^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: the Old Capital, 794–1869,
^ a b c Ponsonby-Fane, p. 328.
^ Encyclopædia Britannica (1911): "Japan: Commerce in Tokugawa
Times," p. 201.
^ Deal, William E. (2007). Handbook to life in medieval and early
modern Japan. New York: Oxford University Press.
^ Taxes, and samurai stipends, were paid not in coin, but in rice. See
Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (2014). 100 Famous Views of Edo. Chiang
Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B00HR3RHUY
Gordon, Andrew. (2003). A Modern History of
Japan from Tokugawa Times
to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-511060-9/ISBN 978-0-19-511060-9 (cloth);
ISBN 0-19-511061-7/ISBN 978-0-19-511061-6.
Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: the Old Capital, 794–1869.
Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society.
Sansom, George. (1963). A History of Japan: 1615–1867. Stanford:
Stanford University Press.
ISBN 0-8047-0527-5/ISBN 978-0-8047-0527-1.
Akira Naito (Author), Kazuo Hozumi. Edo, the City that Became Tokyo:
An Illustrated History. Kodansha International,
Alternate spelling from
1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Edo.
A Trip to Old Edo
(in Japanese) Fukagawa
Map of Bushū Toshima District,
Edo from 1682