Think You Know Tokyo? Think Again

As home to the world’s most expensive restaurant and more neon signs than any other city on the planet, coming up with mind boggling stats about Tokyo is both a trouble and stress-free task. With the theatre and history of temples coexisting effortlessly alongside modern commodities like swanky spas and indulgent megamalls, the city is one of great contrasts. But there’s more to this vibrant metropolis than meets the eye. Here are five facts about Tokyo that are sure raise a few eyebrows!

It’s huge, really.

This is no haphazard claim, because Tokyo really is one ginormous, sprawling network of activity! Not only is it considered the most populous metropolis in the world, with an ever-growing population that now exceeds 13 million, but it’s also home to the world’s 7th largest subway system. With such a large transport network in place, it will come as no surprise to learn that it is classified as both the most efficient and busiest in the world, carrying around 9 million commuters a day – and that excludes those links to Tokyo’s suburbs!

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Image source Flickr

The city is home to more Michelin starred restaurants than France.

Yes that’s right, your eyes do not deceive you – Tokyo is in fact home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than France itself, the very birthplace of the Michelin Star. These days, the best restaurants in Tokyo have earnt their stripes and the city is now considered the fine dining capital of the world, bypassing Paris’ 144 stars to claim an incredible 302 stars across the city and leaving the likes of London’s 79 for dust! This is an impressive feat when you consider that Japanese food didn’t become popular outside of Asia until the last few decades. But what’s not to love? It’s healthy, theatrical and boy does it taste good.

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Image source Flickr

Festivals, everywhere!

Whilst there is no exact figure as to how many festivals – or as they are traditionally known, matsuri – are held across Japan every year, experts estimate this number to be around 200,000! There are three main festivals held throughout the year; Tokyo’s Kanda Matsuri, Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri and Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri, but around the big three are a plethora of unique events that celebrate everything from culture and food, to religion and seasons, with many taking place at traditional temples and shrines. And with such a high number of matsuri on offer, it will come as no surprise to learn that there really is something to please everyone, with everything from baby crying festivals to one-person sumo festivals to experience.

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Image source Flickr

Tokyo wasn’t always Tokyo.

The city was originally named Edo, and it wasn’t up until 1868 when it became the imperial capital of Japan that its name changed to something more literal – Tokyo, which translates to Eastern Capital. It was a time where Japan was ruled by an Emperor, foreign visitors were a pipe dream and only Shinto and Buddhism were widely accepted as practiced religions. Despite its name change and the city’s huge transformation, you can still see remnants of the Edo period deeply rooted all around the city in the form of architecture and daily life, as fast-forward to today and a handful of culturally significant traditions like sumo wrestling and kabuki have stood the test of time.

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Image source Flickr

Japan has had its fair share of bizarre creations…

Japan is known for being an incredible creative and forward-thinking nation, gifting the world with creations such as DVDs, digital cameras, CDs, electronic rice cookers and most importantly, ramen. Always looking to progress in the technological sphere, their teams of scientists are working flat out to develop the likes of ground-breaking robots, brain-analysing cameras and circuit board-drawing pens, making the invention of the car seem like a walk in the park. As home to both the weird and the wonderful, our favourite fact about Japanese creations lies in the hands of the square melon. The brainchild of a Japanese graphic designer, the idea was to develop a melon that could be stacked and cut easily. A nice idea in principle, but in reality, they are so expensive that decorative purposes are their only real calling in life.

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Image source Flickr

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Emma

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