Edo (江戸)

"Edo" (also described as Yedo, Yeddo, Yendo, Jedo) is the former name for Tokyo. It refers to an area centered around Edo Castle that encompasses the center of present day Tokyo Special Ward (Chiyoda and Chuo Wards and their surrounding areas).


Edo did not become the capital until the Meiji Restoration when it was renamed Tokyo because the Imperial Palace was not located there; However, Edo served as the seat of Bakufu authority and thus the defacto capital of Japan (administrative capital) in the Edo period, and developed into a political and economic center of power. The Edo Castle was the residence of successive Tokugawa shoguns, or Seii taishogun (literally, "the great general who pacifies barbarians"), and the city of Edo was both the site of bakufu administrative organs and the personal castle town of the Tokugawa Clan that ruled over the shogunal domain. The political center had shifted back to Kyoto by the end of the Edo Period, and the 15th shogun Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA never resided in EDO.

In 1868 (the first year of the Meiji Period), Edo was renamed Tokyo in accordance with an imperial edict, and Edo Castle became the Imperial Palace in Tokyo after the Emperor's arrival. In the following year, all of the functions of the new Meiji government were transferred to Tokyo from Kyoto, paving the way for Tokyo to become the capital city of Japan. Along with the renaming of Tokyo to Edo, the Tokyo-fucho (Tokyo prefectural office) was established to govern the town magistrate (In 1871, Tokyo-fu (Tokyo Prefecture) was re-established in accordance with the Haihan-chiken system [Abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures]).

In 1889, Tokyo-shi (Tokyo City) was established in accordance to municipal organization. Under the wartime governance in 1943, Tokyo-fu and Tokyo-shi were both abolished, and Tokyo-to (Tokyo Metropolis) was established in their place.

The town of Edo was roughly categorized into an uptown area west of Edo Castle where samurai lived, and a downtown (shitamachi) area facing several rivers and moats beginning with the Sumidagawa riverwhere commoners lived. Channel networks of rivers and moats and kura (the earthen-walled storehouses) characterized the Edo cityscape, and those river port cities in the Kanto area where the kura cityscape have survived such as Kawagoe, Tochigi, and Sawara are called "small Edo" for their architectural resemblance to Edo and the fact that these cities were actively traded with Edo.

Edo prior to the arrival of the Tokugawa clan

The first written record pertaining to the name 'Edo' first appeared in "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), a Kamakura-bakufu (c.1185 - 1333) history, but the name itself is said to be a place name that emerged in the latter half of the Heian Period (794 - c.1185).

Although there are many theories on the etymology of the Edo as a place name, the theory that the Character "e" [江] refers to a river or mouth of a river, and "to" [戸] as a gate or theshhold and hence "entry to a river" has been widely accepted. Indeed, Edo was established west of the Sumidagawa River estuary which served as a provincial border between Musashi Province and Shimosa Province, and Hibiya inlet stretched across the area where the Edo Castle was later constructed.

Edo was founded in the late Heian Period by a clan of the Chichibu party that claimed the name of Kanmu-Heishi (the Taira clan) who entered the plains along the Irumagawa River ((Saitama Prefecture) (Present-day Arakawa (Kanto)) from Kawagoe City from the Chichibu region of Musashi province. In the 11th century, Shigetsugu of the Chichibu clan built his own residence (later, the Edo Castle) on a hill overlooking Sakurada, and founded the EDO clan by renaming himself EDO Taro after the place name Edo. When MINAMOTO no Yoritomo raised an army in 1180, EDO Shigenaga, the son of Shigetsugu, initially fought against the Miura clan that was allied to Yoritomo as an ally of Ise-Heishi (Taira Clan), but later made peace with the Yoritomo and became a gokenin (shogunal retainers) of Kamakura bakufu (headed by Yoritomo). According to historical records, Nagashige EDO, who was a member of the Edo clan and held the post of jito (manager and lord of manor) donated Maeshima Village of Edo-go (Area around present-day Tokyo Station) to the Tokuso family in 1261, because the area became ruined and unmanageable due to famine. Historical records reveal that Nagashige became a retainer of the Tokuso family, and the land was again donated to Enkaku-ji Shrine by the family before 1315.

With the collapse of the Kamakura bakufu and the ensuing turmoil of the Northern and Southern Court Period, the Edo clan initially allied itself to the Southern Court serving Yoshisada NITTA, but later changed allegiances to the Northern Court and served as the Kamakura Kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region). However, the power of the EDO clan gradually waned throughout the Muromachi Period, prompting it to relocate to Kitami of Tama County (Present-day, Kitami, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo Metropolis).

Sukenaga OTA (later, Dokan OTA), a powerful military commander and chief retainer of the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi clan (a branch family of the Uesugi clan, Kanto Kanrei [shogunal deputy for the Kanto region]) entered Edo and built the Edo Castle over the site of the former residence of the Edo clan. According to one theory, the construction of the Edo Castle began in 1456 and was completed in the following year. Even after entering into priesthood in 1478 by shaving his head and calling himself Dokan, Sukenaga OTA ruled over the southern Kanto region from his base of power in the southern Kanto region until his assasination in 1486. In the time of Dokan, the Hirakawa River (present-day, Kanda-gawa River and Nihonbashi-gara River in Tokyo) poured into Hibiya inlet, and the area around Edo Maejima east of the Hibiya cove and west of the Edo-minato Port served as an influential port of Musashi Province during the medieval period rivalling the ports of Asakusa and Shingawa (however, in the "Tokyoshi Shiko", Hibiya inlet is identified as Edo-minato Port). Due to their proximity to the Ara-kara River and Tone-gawa River (present-day, Furutone-gawa River and Naka-gawa River) estuaries, the ports of Edo and Shinagawa served as important hubs for riverine transportation from inland areas of the northern Kanto to places such as Kamakura and Odawara Castle, and locations as far as western parts of Japan.

After the death of Dokan and the collapse of the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi clan, the Edo Castle was taken over by the Gohojo clan and used as its subsidiary castle. During the later years of the Gohojo clan, HOJO Ujimasa seized direct control over the castle and led the Ota clan and the Chiba clan.

Edo during the Tokugawa Period

It was Ieyasu TOKUGAWA who transformed a regional castle town into a huge metropolis.

With the destruction of the Gohojo clan by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in the Siege of Odawara (1590), TOKUGAWA Ieyasu, who was assigned to govern and develop former Gohojo territories designated Edo as the central place in the Kanto region from where he would govern. In the very same year, Ieyasu moved from Sunpu and took residence in Edo Castle, but it is said that Edo Castle was then an aging and humble castle. Ieyasu prioritized the construction of the surrounding castletown over the expansion of the main castle enclosure by levelling Mt. Kado and reclaiming the Hibiya inlet to expand the habitable areas and build residences for vassals and townspeople. It is said that the earth of the newly reclaimed land had not yet hardened due to the rushed nature of the reclamation project, and massive plumes of dust were blown into the air even after the earth had dried. The Edo Castle in this period constituted a central Honmaru (a main enclosure) and Ninomaru (second bailey), as well as the extensions that included Nishinomaru (west compartment), Sannomaru (third bailey), Fukiage and Kitanomaru (north compartment). Additionally, the diversion of the Dosan Moat and Hira-kawa River to the central area of Edo Maejima, and the concurrent reclamation project led to the reclamation of more than half of present-day Nishinomaru-shimo area (During this period, the main castle enclosure included Honmaru, Ninomaru, and Nishinomaru [a retreat for Ieyasu]).

Edo rose in political prominence when it became the seat of the Bakufu government when Ieyasu 's became the ruler of Japan after his victory in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and was annointed "Seii taishogun" in 1603. Also, residences of many daimyo (feudal lords serving the Tokugawa family) were built, and a large number of daimyo's vassals and families, and shogunal bannermen and retainers moved in, followed by the influx of merchants and craftsmen who supported the lives of those people, all of which contributed to the rapid expansion of the town.

Meanwhile, the Edo Castle and its moats were renovated by daimyo who were consigned to labor by the government, and the castle was reborn as a massive, hardened citadel, and big defense facilities were also constructed in a way to surround the Castle and samurai residences. Please see the section on 'Metropolis' for the history of urban development.

With the reconstruction of the city after the Great Fire of Meireki in 1657, the city expanded east of the Sumida-gawa River. The population continued to increase, and exceeded one million at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and became known as a city of a "eight-hundred-and-eight-towns" (metaphor for an infinite towns)- one of the world's great metropolises (By some estimates, it was the most populous metropolis in the world.). Population growth in Edo turned the city into the consumption center of eastern japan, and faciliated its rise to economic prominence as a significant market that linked the farming villages of various regions of eastern Japan, and a hub market that linked the economically advanced Kamigata (Kinki region) and Kanto regions. By this time Edo had grown into a large metropolis was referred to in Chinese-style as 'Toto' (literally, Eastern Capital) as described in "Toto Saijiki" (Customs of the Eastern Capital) and 'Higashi Hongan-ji Temple (Taito Ward, Tokyo)' of "Fugaku Sanju Rokkei" (Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji). From the end of the 18th century through the beginning of the 19th century, Edo surpassed Kamigata (This is a commonly used term referring to Kyoto and the Kansai region) as a cultural center, and the active traffic of people between Edo and the provinces due to economic activities and the sankinkotai (a system that required feudal lords to reside in Edo every other year) facilitated the active transmission of culture between Edo and the provinces. On the other hand, a massive influx of migrants from rural farming villages to Edo caused various urban problems.

Population and literacy rate in Edo

The population of Edo, which was reported by Rodrigo de Viveroto be around one-hundred-fifty-thousand in 1609, exceeded the one million mark at the turn of the eighteenth century--prompting many to presume that Edo had become one of the biggest if not the biggest city in the world. The literacy rate of adult males living in Edo exceeded seventy per cent by the end of Edo Period, far higher than those of London (20%) and Paris (below 10%), which a Russian revolutionist, Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, and German archaeologist, Heinrich Julius Schliemann who discovered Trojan Ruins, reported with astonishment. It is also said that waka (Japanese poetry) was not only cherished by samura, but also peasants- it is considered that this is a result of the popularization of terakoya (elementary education offered in temples). In this manner, one can say that the literacy rate in Edo was significantly high vis-à-vis the rest of the world.

However, as for population, extant records only reveal the number of townspeople, which was close to six-hundred thousand in the waning days of the Bakufu. "One million people" is an approximate figure based on the retroactive inclusion of several elements of society such as the samurai households, Jisha-gata (those working for shrines and temples including Shinto priests and Buddhist monks), and ostracized castes who were not included in the original population census. Estimates for the samurai residing in Edo vastly ranges between two-hundred thousand and one million due to many fluctuating factors such as the unaccompanied assignments of regional samura in accordance to the requirements of the Sankinkotai system, and the total population for Edo during its apex has ranged from 680,000 to 1.5 million. Estimates of the population offered by miscellaneous documents of contemporaries also vary widely between five-hundred-thousand and two million.

Population of townspeople and clerical personnel (Machi-gata and Jisha-gata) residing in areas administered by the machi-bugyo (the town magistrate's office).

The earliest extant record of a census conducted in Edo surivives in an annotation in the "Shoho Jiroku," (Chronicles of the Shoho Era) which indicates that there were 353,588 people in Edo as of June 17th, 1693 (6th year of Genroku), and it is also said that this was ordered by Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA to root out demagogues. However, the census system was only formally put into place after hexannual national census surveys were implemented by Yoshimune TOKUGAWA in 1721 (year) and formalized in the document presented by Tadasuke OOKA to Ujinori ARIMA. In gathering demographic information, Yoshimune TOKUGAWA noticed a sharp population decline of 9,263 persons between September 1723 to April 1724 and a population surge of 10,394 persons between April and June 1725; After ordering an investigation into the seasonal fluctuations in population, it was discovered that frequent fires in winter prompted women and children to take shelter in neighboring towns and parental residences, and reconstruction work and the construction of dozo (earthen storehouse) from spring brought in an influx of workers.

The populations of townspeople residing in Edo prefecture, which have been compiled in the following official document in additional to several other historical documents, have been compiled by sex. The official borders of Edo changed frequently, and it was not until after 1745 that Jisha-Monzenchi (lands in fron to of temples and shrines) were officially incorporated into the Imperial Palace, and it was also not until 1818 that the terms 'Shubiki' (drawing a border of Edo-fu in red) and 'Sumibiki' (drawing a border of the area ruled by the town magistrate's office in black) were coined. In the first year of the Ansei era, Shin-yoshiwara, Shinagawa, and Sankenchi itowappu Saruya-cho kaisho were incorporated into Edo. A municipal survey conducted in April 1869, revealed that land usage in Edo comprised 15.8% of lands for ordinary town use (8.91 km2), 15.6% of those for temples and shrines (8.80 km2) and 68.6% of those for samurai households (38.65 km2), but populations living in the lands for samurai households were not included in the census throughout the Edo Period. Population figures, unless recorded in official documents such as Choho-roku, Kyoho senyoruishu, Machibugyo Shihaiso chonin ninsukonokai, Tenpo senyoruishu and Shichu Torishimari ruishu, are unreliable. Sources such as "Edo-kai zasshi", "Suijinroku" of Kaishu KATSU, "Edo Kyujiko" and "Tokeigaku zasshi" are secondary materials materials compiled in the mid-Meiji Period, and the primary documents on which these secondary sources are are based have not been accounted for. The figures in italics are of questionable accuracy because (1) the recurrence of similar figures over several months points to the likelihood of entry errors; and (2) there are several cases in which the populations of Shaji-kata and Shin-yoshiwara that were not included in the original estimates were retroactively added to the figures in later times.

This includes 29,438 women.

Sources: Nanbo OTA, 'Kansei 10 nen, Bogo, Edonin betsu' from vol. 26 of "Ichiwa Ichigen" (1820); Shigetami YAMASHITA, 'Edo shigai Tokei Ippan' from vol.1 (pp. 18-26) of "Edokai zasshi" (1889); Kaishu KATSU, 'Edo Jinko Shoki' from "Suijinroku" (1890); Yasusuke KOMIYAMA, 'Funai no Jinko' from vol. 2 (pp. 19–23) of "Edo kyujiko" (1891) and vol. 9 (pp. 1210–1243) of "Nihon Zaise Keizai Shiryo" (1922); Juzo YUZUKI and Yasuzo HORIE, 'Honpo jinko hyo' from vol. 7 (pp. 188–210) of "Keizaishi Kenkyu" (1930); Shigetomo KODA, 'Edo no Chonin no Jinko' from vol. 8 (pp. 1–23) of "Shakai Keizai gakkaishi" (1938); Yasujiro TAKAMI, 'Edo no Jinko no Kenkyu' from the 7th conference (pp. 59–83) of "Zenkoku Toshi Mondai kaigi" (1940); Bonsen TAKAHASHI, "Nihon Jinkoshi no Kenkyu" from Sanyusha publishing (1941), Naotaro SEKIYAMA, "Kinsei Nihon no Jinko Kozo" published by Yoshikawa Kobunkan Inc. (1958); Kazuo MINAMI, "Bakumatsu Edo Shakai no Kenkyu" published by Yoshikawa Kobunkan Inc. (1978). Where population figures vary between sources, only one of those figures have been implemented. In this chart, the figures of seven censuses (December 1718, March 1722, May 1723, July 1724, September 1725, April 1731 and November 1732) provisionally treated represent the combined population of the townspeople and those around Jisha-Monzen (Literally translated as area in front of temples and shrines); However, according to official documents, censuses up to the June 1725 (Year 10 Kyoho) only take account of townspeople, but even these records include numerical errors.
Although, the 'Edo Jinko Shoki' of "Suijinroku" compile the figures from the hexannual census, whereas the "Chohoroku" compiles the figures of November 1721 under the name of 'townspeople.'
In this chart, the census figures for 1721 (Kyoho 11), 1738 (Genbun 3), and 1743 (Enkyo 1) only represent townspeople.

The populations of the three counties Toshima-gun (Musashi Province), Ebara-gun and Katsushika-gun for May 1798 (Kansei 10) and May 1840 (Tenpo 11) are as indicated in the chart.

By the end of the Edo Period, the census collected and compiled population by place of birth and the population of migrant workers residing in Edo.

Total Estimate Population

Official documents reveal that the total migrant population combined with the population of townspeople reached its apex (587,458) in July 1843 (Kyoho 14), and the population of townspeople excluding migrant workers reached its apex (575,901) in September 1853 (Kaei 6). However, according to the "Edo Kyujiko" (Ruminations on Old Edo) Edo's population reached its height in 1843 with approximately 596,448 including migrant workers (The broken-down figures are similar to those in the official document of July 1843.); excluding migrant workers, the Edo population reached its height in 1742--a hundred years before the official census (Most of the figures in the "Edo Kyujiko" are believed to cover non-targeted demographic subjects as well.") with a local population of 591,809 as of 1742, a hundred years before the official record (however, most figures in "Edo Kyujiko" are believed to cover non-targeted demographics as well). Also, according to "Edokai zasshi,"the population in New Years 1803 (Japanese Years) was 607,100 (However, it is believed that the male population was mistakenly overstated by 100,000). Many provincial migrants, many of whom were male, resided in Edo to the extent that the male population was nearly double that of the female population in the mid-Edo period, this gender imbalance was greatly alleviated by the end of period.

Other sources including Nanbo OTA's "Hannichi Kanwa" and "Kumo no Ito" and Kyozan IWASE's "Otomizakki jo" point that the population of towns people exceeded the one million mark and reached 1,285,300 by June 1786 (Tenmei 6) or May 1787 (Tenmei), t. Another source indicates that the population in 1837 (Tenpo 8) was 1,284,815. Some have interpreted that these figures, collected shortly after a state of emergency due to a disaster, reveal the true population of Edo that takes into account the population of samurai households, but the reliability of this document is questionable because (1) the male-to-female ratio is reversed, and (2) the populations and composition of non-targeted demographics are similar in spite of a fifty year interval.

Population of the Shin-yoshiwara (The red light district), Shinto Priests and Buddhist Monks

Although the Yoshiwara (Tokyo Prefecture) was initially constructed as a residential in a suburb of Edo after the Great Fire of Meireki in 1657, it remained outside the control of the town magistrate's office and was excluded from the census taken within Edo Prefecture. Additionally, Shinto priests and Buddhist monks were regarded as belonging to a special class and excluded from a population census. The following is a list of population figures for demographic elements not covered by the census, but recorded in a several miscellaneous notes. However, since the figures remain oddly similar over time, it is thought that they were plagiarized from several historical documents, but changed over time through mis-transcription.

The most conservative estimates for temple and shrine constituents point to a population of 40,000. Also, the population of Shin-yoshiwara was around 10,000.

Population of peasants and townspeople in temple/shrine towns

The area governed by the town magistrate's office varied with time, and the handling of temple/shrine towns was a particularly troublesome issue among Bakufu officials. Indeed, a significant number of farm plots and samurai residences existed in Shuinchi (lands allocated for temples and shrines). For the abovementioned reason, there are those who interpret that the population of temple towns that have been accounted for in the population of townspeople, do not include peasants living in such farm lands and some other townspeople inhabiting the shuinchi. TAKAMI Yasujiro (1940) estimated that there were 9,500 households and approximately 43,500 people inhabiting the dense residential area.

Population of Eta and Hinin (Discriminated Outsider Castes)

The following figures are based on "Edo Kaishi" (p. 37 of No. 10).

Disciples of Matsuuemon

Population of samurai and servants

The population of servants living in samurai residences was excluded from the Edo census because it was not an administrative responsibility of the Bakufu. Furthermore, the population of the samurai was never recorded since it was strategically sensitive information. In a several miscellaneous notes, populations of samurai residing in Edo were irrationally estimated as large as over 0.2 billion (236,987,950 in 1732 ["Getudo Kenmon shu"], 236,085,950 in 1735 ["Hannichi Kanwa"] and 236,580,390 in 1743 and 1815 ["Kasshi yawa"]), whereas "Tsuchiya Hikki" describes a realistic figure of 600,973 (years unknown). Additionally, according to the "Ryuenzakki" [柳烟雑記] (Miscellaneous Records of Smokey Willow), the samurai population as of May 1723 (Kyoho 9) comprised of 264 daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), 5,205 hatamoto (bannermen), 17,004 subordinates, 30,909 of those including yoriki (police sergeant), doshin (police constable), rokushaku (servant) and genan (houseboy), and 487 others.

Yasusuke KOMIYAMA (1891) estimated based on the statistics from "柳烟雑記" that the total population of samurai households was around 260,000; 121,110 of domain-retained samurai and their family, 83,403 of hatamoto and their family, and 58,936 of their retainers and servants. Additionally, a survey performed in 1843 (Tenpo 14) estimates the total population to be approximately 300,000. On the other hand, Yasujiro TAKAMI (1940) estimated the population of domain-retained samura and their dependents to be approximately 360,000, and the population of samurai and dependents administered by the Bakufu to be approximately 260,000 for a combined total of 620,000 based on an 1864 (meiji 1) census carried out over peerage and warrior classes. On the other hand, Naotaro SEKIYAMA (1958) estimated that the aggregate population of samurai households was around 500,000, composed of 115,000 hatamoto and their dependents, 100,000 of their servants, 180,000 domain-retained samurai and their dependents, and 100,000 of ashigaru (common foot soldier) and servants retained by Bakufu. Tertius Chandler, whose estimates for historical populations are frequently cited in other countries, estimated that three-eighths of the population of townspeople were samurai, and approximated the demographic shift from 188,000 in 1701 to 215,000 1854.

From Edo to Tokyo

The Boshin War broke out in 1868, and when the Bakufu army was defeated in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, a large force of combined Satsuma and Choshu Domains advanced on Edo, putting the metropolis under the threat of warfare. Kaishu KATSU, a retainer of the Shogun, advocated an early cease-fire with Takamori SAIGO--commander of combined Satsuma and Choshu forces; Consequently, the last Shogun Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA surrendered Edo Castle without any bloodshed and spared Edo from the ravages of war with the exception of the Battle of Ueno fought between domain and government forces.

Shortly after the fall of the Bakufu, Edo renamed Tokyo, and in the following year the Tokyo Castle (formerly, the Edo Castle) was officially recommissioned as the 'Imperial Palace' with the 入居 of the Meiji Emperor-- the metropolis Edo once overseen by the shogun became the 'metropolis Tokyo'-- temporary residence of the Emperor (Tokyo Tento [transfer of the national capital to Tokyo]). As the townscape of Tokyo expanded and transformed from a city to a metropolis, the area formerly known as Edo became downtown Tokyo, and serves as its center.

The Extent of Edo

The area called Edo was originally part of the Heian Period village Sakurada-go in Ebara County (southwest of the Edo Castle), but it later became referred to as Edo-go of Toshima County (Musashi Province).

In the first half of the Edo Period, the city was no bigger than present day Chiyoda Ward and its surrounding areas, and the outer moat of the Edo Castle was dug to encompass this area. The urban areas expanded after the Great Fire of Meireki. Edo came to be called as the city of "eight-hundred-and-eight towns' (The number eight-hundred-and-eight is traditionally associated with innumerable.).

The urban area of Edo was called 'Gofunai,' and the official borders of Edo cartographically delineated by 'shubiki' (literally "red-ruled lines.") for the first time in 1818, and the area administered by the town magistrate's office were distinguished by 'sumibiki' (literally "black-ruled lines"). The area encompassed by 'Shubiki' was slightly larger than the fifteen wards consisting Old Tokyo, and include parts of present day Toshima, Shibuya, and Kita wards, as well as parts of Meguro, Shinagawa, and Itabashi wards. The shubiki delineated areas roughly match with the fifteen wards of Old Tokyo. The practice of 'shubiki' continued into the Meiji Period; After several revisions the shubiki areas assumed a shape similar to those of sumibiki areas, and the administrative boundaries of the fifteen wards of Old Tokyo were finalized in accordance to the promulgation of the County-Ward-Township-Village Organization Act.

It is said that in later Edo Period, Edo almost encompassed fifteen Wards of later-Tokyo City, present-day Chiyoda, Chuo, Bunkyo, Taito, Sumida, and Koto wards, as well as the east side of Shinjuku Ward (up to Yotsuya).

The following is a list of historical place names in Edo.

Kanda (Chiyoda Ward)

Nihonbashi (Chuo Ward, Tokyo Metropolis)

Kyobashi (Chuo Ward, Tokyo Metropolis)

Hongo (Bukyo-ku Ward)


Ueno (Taito Ward)


Honjo (Sumida Ward)

Fukagawa (Koto Ward)

Ryogoku (Sumida Ward)

Mukojima (Sumida Ward)

Many place names of Nishimikawa beginning with Ozaki, have been transposed to locations in Edo (For example, "Akihabara" was a name for a country bordering Mikawa, which originaltes from the Akihayama Motomiyaakiha Shrine of the former country of Totoumi.), because Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was originally the daimyo of Mikawa Province (present-day Okazaki City of Aichi Prefecture in Western Japan.).

In fact, as mentioned earlier, the location of Edo was one of vital strategic importance in the southern Kanto region since the late Heian Period. As the records of the Tokugawa clan reveal, the Edo Castle was not regarded as a vital branch-castle in the time of the Gohojo clan and its modest structure that was constructed in the 15th century remained; However, it should be noted that the foundations that would enable Edo to develop into the capital of eight provinces had already been laid.

With the exception of the sandbar known as Edomaeshima, which is east of the Hibiya inlet and west of the Sumidagawa Estuary, the lack of level land not only posed a significant obstacle to development of the castletown, but also hampered the development of Edo into metropolis. In response to this issue, Tokugawa dug the Dosan moat stretching from the Ote-mon Gate of Edo Castle to Sumida-gawa (river), and initiated the reclamation of Hibiya inlet using the earth from the prior previous moat construction. The Dosan canal was used to transport timber and stone building materials required for the construction of the castle from the Sumidagawa estuary up to the Edo Castle, and a funamachi (riverine port town) was built one both banks of the canal.
Additionally, the first townspeople (residential) zone was designated north of the outside of the Tokiwa-bashi Gate and Nihon-bashi bridge (an area designated for the habitation of merchants and artisans) (It is thought that the course of Hira-kawa River stretching towards Hibiya inlet was diverted to pass through Edo Maejima.)
This area known as Edo Honmachi encompassed the area where the central branch of the Bank of Japan and the main store of Mitsukoshi currently stand. Furthermore, machiya (merchant houses) were also built in the villages such as Shiba in the south (Minato Ward), Asakusa in the north, and Akasaka, Ushigome and Kojimachi in the west. The most famous map of Edo in this period isThe "Beppon Keicho Edo zu,"is known as a map that reveals Edo as it was.

It is said that Edo was structured in the form of 'の' (a letter of Kana syllable, pronounced 'no'), a quite unique design, compared to other castle towns. The palaces of shogun, his heir and ogosho (ex-shogun) were constructed the central castle compound of the Edo Castle within the Honmaru, Ninomaru and Nishinomaru interior castle that were enclosed by the Ote-mon, Wadakura-mon, Babasaki-mon, and Sakurada-mon cates, and the residences of Tokugawa gosanke (three privileged branches of the Tokugawa family) were reserved west of the Castle and behind Hanzo-mon gate Gate. Residences of fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals to the Tokugawa clan) were built on the western outskirts of the interior castle moat between the Oote-mon and Wadakura-mon gates, an area south of the Sakurada-mon gate was designated the residence of the tozama daimyo (nonhereditary feudal lord), and Hatamoto and Gokenin (shogunal retainers) were housed on a hillside stretching between the outskirts of the western Hanzo-mon gate to Hitotsubashi-mon and Kandabashi-mon gates; choninchi (residential and commercial areas for townspeople) the reclaimed lands in Hibiya stretched between Tokiwa-bashi Bridge, Gofuku-bashi Bridge, Kaji-bashi Bridge, Sukiya-bashi Bridge, Sumida-gawa River and the Edo Bay. The layout of Edo is evident on the map as the shogunal, shinpan (Tokugawa's relatives), fudai daimyo, tozama daimyo, hatamoto and townspeople are positioned inside and outside a "の" shaped moat stretching from Ote-mon Gate to Sukiya-bashi Bridge. Just as a snail expands its shell as it grows, the adoption of a spiral structure facilitated the flexible expansion of Edo.

After the death of Ieyasu, the second shogun, Hidetada TOKUGAWA ordered the the diversion of the Hirakawa River, which flowed southwards from west side of the Koishigawa-mon gate, to flow eastwards to secure a defensive barrier for Northeastern Edo.. An artificial valley was dug between the Kanda Plateau that stretched from Hongo to Surugadai (The areas between present-day Suido-bashi and Mansei-bashi bridges [Akihabara]) to dug to create an artificial valley so that the Hira-kawa River run through the valley, joined Naka-gawa River in the west (which originated in the Kanda Plain and poured into Sumida-gawa River) and run under Asakusa-bashi Bridge to pour into Sumida-gawa River. This would later become the Kanda-gawa River, which became the outer northern moat of the Edo Castle. Through this channel improvement work, the lower reaches of the Hira-kawa River that flowed into Sumida-gawa River after passing through Hitotsu-bashi Bridge, Kanda-bashi Bridge, and Nihon-bashi Bridge, was cut-off from the Kanda-gawa River (former Hira-kawa River) and became the Edo Castle moat. It was not until the Meiji Period that this moat was reconnected to Kanda-gawa River and renamed Nihon-bashi River-- a branch of the Kanda-gawa River.

Moreover, the third shogun, Iemitsu TOKUGAWA decided to reinforce the castle's western exterior enclosure, which was left untouched, and built an outer moat using the reservoirs and streams that coursed through Akasaka, Yotsuya, Ichigaya to Ushigome before flowing into Kanda-gawa River. The construction of the moat, which required a massive mobilization on the part of tozama daimyo, was finished in 1636, and marked the completion of a outer portion of the spiral-shaped urban layout that spanned the Onari-mon and Asakusabashi-mon gates.

Among the elements that constitute castletowns, the significance of jisha-chi (lands for temples and shrines) was on par with the bukechi (lands for samurai) and Choninchi (lands for townspeople), but it is said that geomancy also dicated the location of temples and shrines during the Edo period. One reason why the Tokugawa clan chose the Edo Castle as its primary residence was that the geographical location of Edo was ideally aligned with shijin-soo philosopy that sought geographic analogs of the four Daoist gods Genbu (God of Water), Suzaku (Red Phoenix), Seiryu (Blue Dragon) and Byakko (White Tiger) respectively manifest in the geographic forms of hills in the north, a basin to the south, a river in the east, and a broad avenue to the west; Such geographic analogs of geomantic ideals were manifest in the Kojimachi plateau to the north, the Hibiya Inlet to the south, the Kanda-gawa River in the east, and the Tokai-do road to the west; the geographic analogs of geomantic ideals were respectively reconfigured to the Hongo highlands (Bunkyo Ward), Edo bay, O-kawa River (Sumida-gawa River), and the Koshu-kaido Road in response to the growth of Edo. Kanda Myojin-Shine which enshrined TAIRA no Masakado, a renown samurai who sought the independence of the Kanto region and who said to have later turned into a vengeful ghost, was relocated from Ote-mon Gate (The area surrounding the present day Kubi-zuka [Mound of Heads]) to Surugadai to the northeast of Edo Castle which was known as a kimon (Literally translated as the "demons gate," which signified an inauspicious direction in Onmyodo [yin-yang philosophy]), and enshrined their as a Shinto deity and protector of Edo. Additionally, the Sanno Gongen (present-day Hie-jinja Shrine) was relocated from the castle compound to Akasaka in the southwest where the Urakimon (literally translated as the back-demons' gate) during the reconstruction of Edo Castle. Moreover, Ieyasu entrusted land in Ueno-Shinobugaoka which faced the kimon to the Tenda sect monk Tenkai, who erected a stupa in the likeness of Mt. Hiei which contains the demon's gate (kimon) and founded the Kanei-ji Temple in 1625. The "sango" (A name bestowed to each temple.) for Kanei-ji Temple was Toei-zan, which meant the Mt. Hiei of the east; and its "jigo" (temple name) was the era in which the temple was erected-- akin to Enryaku-ji Temple (in Mt. Hiei) which was built in the Enryaku era.

Water security became an issue for Edo as it grew, since it was a town built over reclaimed shoreline, and digging wells alone could not secure ample fresh water. As a solution, the Kanda Waterworks that was fed by water from from Inokashira Pond, and a prexisting reservoir in Akasaka were used to supply water to the city. As a population of Edo grew larger, these two systems could no longer supply enough water to the populace, and the city faced serious water shortages. The Tamagawa Waterworks was built in 1653 to alleviate such shortages. The water works were a source of pride for the peoploe of Edo, and they are noted as saying that "[they] used tap water to give [their] newborns [their] first bath."

The reconstruction of the Edo Castle was completed in 1640, marking one end point in the urban development of Edo. However, most of the city including the tenshu (tower) of Edo Castle was destroyed during the Great Fire of Meireki in 1657. After the fire, the bakufu revised its urban planning policies to minimize the risk of fire hazards. Daimyo residences such as as those of the Tokugawa gosanke in Fukiage were relocated to Kioi-cho Town outside the Manzo-mon Gate, and large empty lots and gardens were established to prevent fires from spreading to neighboring areas.

The town of Edo recovered as daimyo reconstructed their residences and as an ever increasing number of samurai migrated to the city in accordance to the Sankinkotai system, the town of Edo rapidly recovered to support their needs; but in practical terms, the town of Edo could not longer be contained within its outer moat. It is within this context that the town of Edo began to expand, urbanization spread beyond the banks of the Sumida-gawa and Fukagawa-rivers, and advanced to Eitai-jima. The urbanization also began in the south, west and north of Edo, and Ueno (Taito Ward) and Asakusa on the peripheries of Edo developed into amusement districts, and the Yoshiwara yukaku (red-light district) became located outside of this area.

Shinto shrines

Kanda Myojin-Shine

Hie-jinja Shrine

Nezu-jinja Shrine

Tomioka Hachiman-gu Shrine

Tsukudo-jinja Shrine

Torigoe-jinja Shrine

Yushima tenjin

Buddhist Temples

Senso-ji Temple

Kanei-ji Temple

Zojo-ji Temple

Dentsu-in Temple

Gokoku-ji Temple

Sengaku-ji Temple


Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima)

Suburbs of Edo

Meguro Fudo (Ryusen-ji Temple)

Ikegami Honmon-ji Temple

Shibamata Taishakuten

Tokai-ji Temple (Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo Metropolis)

Gotoku-ji Temple

The family temple of the Hikone Ii family

Jindai-ji Temple

Remains of the Musashi Kokubun-ji Temple


Outing (visiting temples and shrines, cherry blossom viewing, moon viewing, autumn leaves viewing and snow viewing)

Suburbs of Edo

Mt. Asuka-yama, Musashino and a visit to Jindai-ji Temple, cherry blossoms in Koganei and the Fujizuka Mound

From Edo to Kanto provinces

A visit to Mt. Daisen and climbing and praying of Mt. Fuji

Kabuki - Danjuro ICHIKAWA - Ohako (one's forte) - Joruri (Ballad drama) (ningyo joruri [traditional Japanese puppet theater] and Tokiwazu [Theatrical music])

rakugo (comic story telling) and kodan (storytelling)

Nishiki-e (colored woodblock print)

Ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints)


Kibyoshi bon (the illustrated book with yellow covers)

Gesaku (the light literature), Sharebon book (a gay-quarter novelette)

Haikai (seventeen-syllable verse)



Tamaya, Kagiya

Furo (bath)



Furisode (kimono with long, trailing sleeves)

Yukata (an informal cotton kimono)


Geta (Japanese wooden sandals), Ashida (wooden clogs), Zori (Japanese straw sandals), Setta(Japanese leather-soled sandals)


Delicacy (Tofu hyakuchin [100 Tofu delicacies], Egg hyakuchin [100 egg delicacies])

Bonito in early season

Soba rice (rice with noodles made from buckwheat)

Zoshi (rice gruel)

Takuanzuke (yellow pickled radish)

Edomae-zushi (hand-rolled sushi)

Soba (noodles made from buckwheat)


Furiuri (peddler)

Kotowaza (proverbs) and Koji Seigo (Chinese origin and proverb)

Edomae (Tokyo style)

Kaji to Kenka ha Edo no Hana (literally, fires and fighting are flowers in Edo >> fires in Edo

Edo no Teki wo Nagasaki de Utsu (literally, avenge the enemy from Edo in Nagasaki).

Edokko ha Yoigoshi no Kane ha Motanu (literally, those born in Edo spend all of the day's earnings before midnight)

Edokko ha Gogatsu no Koi no Fukinagashi (litarally, those born in Edo move from one place to another like a cloth streamer blown by May winds)

Edokko no Nashi wo Kuu you (those born in Edo are frank)

Edokko no Hatsumono Gui (those born in Edo like to eat first fruits of a season to show it off)

Edokko no Umare zokonai Kane wo Tame (failed children of Edo tend to save a lot of money)