Greater Tokyo Area

Greater Tokyo Area

The Greater Tokyo Area is a large metropolitan area in Japan consisting of most of the prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Tokyo (at the center). In Japanese, it is referred to by various terms, including the in Japanese, is the area defined by the Center for Spatial Information Service, the University of Tokyo. It consists of all municipalities that have at least 10% of their population commuting to 23 special wards, with the populations (as of 2000) of 31.7 million.

For the definition in the below table, it uses the 一都三県 Itto Sanken, subtracting out sparsely populated western mountainous areas (gun, 郡) or areas that were consolidated from gun into sparse towns or cities and the far flung Izu Islands of Tokyo prefecture. For Chiba East and southern coast areas are not included as they are suburban. Sometimes these areas are self governing areas (自治体) within the prefecture. Note the total size is "smaller" than Los Angeles County.

Cities outside Tokyo

The core cities of the Greater Tokyo Area outside Tokyo Metropolis are:

*Chiba (population 940,000)
*Kawasaki (population 1.36 million)
*Saitama (population 1.19 million)
*Yokohama (population 3.62 million)

The other cities in Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama Prefectures are:

source: census 2005

Additional cities

In the major metropolitan area (MMA) definition used by the Japanese Statistics Bureau, the following cities in Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka Prefectures are included:

Gunma Prefecture


Ibaraki Prefecture

Shizuoka Prefecture


Tochigi Prefecture


Yamanashi Prefecture


Border areas

Greater Tokyo is bordered by metropolitan areas of Numazu-Atami (approx. 500,000) to the southwest, Maebashi-Takasaki-Ōta-Ashikaga (approx. 1,500,000 people) on the northwest, and Greater Utsunomiya (approx. 800,000) to the north. If these areas are included, Greater Tokyo's population would be around 38-39 million.


At the centre of the main urban area (approximately the first 10km from Tokyo Station) are the 23 special wards, formerly treated as a single city but now governed as separate municipalities, and containing many major commercial centres such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Ginza. Around the 23 special wards are a multitude of suburban cities which merge seamlessly into each other to form a continuous built up area, circumnavigated by the heavily-travelled Route 16 which forms a (broken) loop about 40km from central Tokyo. Situated along the loop are the major cities of Yokohama (to the south of Tokyo), Hachiōji (to the west), Ōmiya (now part of Saitama City, to the north), and Chiba (to the east). Within the Route 16 loop, the coastline of Tokyo Bay is heavily industrialised, with the Keihin Industrial Area stretching from Tokyo down to Yokohama, and the Keiyō Industrial Area from Tokyo eastwards to Chiba. Along the periphery of the main urban area are numerous new suburban housing developments such as the Tama New Town. The landscape is relatively flat compared to most of Japan, most of it comprising low hills.

Outside the Route 16 loop the landscape becomes more rural. To the southwest is an area known as Shōnan comprising various cities and towns along the coast of Sagami Bay, with their long beaches comprising black volcanic sand, and to the west the area is mountainous.

Many rivers run through the area, the major ones being Arakawa and Tama River.



The Greater Tokyo Area has two major airports, Tokyo International Airport (chiefly domestic) and Narita International Airport (chiefly international). Minor facilities include Chōfu and Honda Airports. Tokyo Heliport serves helicopter traffic, including police, fire, and news. Various military facilities handle air traffic: Naval Air Facility Atsugi (United States Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force), Hyakuri Airfield (Japan Air Self-Defense Force), Yokota Air Base (United States Air Force), and Camp Zama (United States Army). Hyakuri is being developed for civil aviation with plans for service to begin in March 2010; it will be called Ibaraki Airport.


Greater Tokyo has an extensive railway network comprising monorails, commuter rails, subways, private lines, trams, and so forth. There are around 136 individual rail lines in the Greater Tokyo Area, and between 1,000 to 1,200 railway stations depending on one's definition of the area, most designed for heavy use, usually long enough to accommodate 10-car trains. Major stations are designed to accommodate hundreds of thousands of passengers at any given time, with miles of connecting tunnels linking vast department stores and corporate offices. Tokyo Station has underground connections that stretch well over 4 kilometers, and Shinjuku Station has well over 200 exits. Greater Tokyo's Railway Network is easily considered the world's largest in terms of both daily passenger throughput with a daily trips of over 40 million (20 million different passengers) as well as physical extent with approximately 2,578 kilometers of track. Some 57 percent of all Greater Tokyo residents used rail as their primary means of transport in 2001. [ [ Urban Transport Fact Book - Tokyo-Yokohama suburban rail summary] ]

JR East and many other carriers crisscross the region with a network of rail lines. (See [ this map] showing the Suica/PASMO accepting area that roughly corresponds with Greater Tokyo.) The most important carriers include Keihin Kyūkō Electric Railway ("Keikyū"), Keisei Electric Railway, Keiō Electric Railway, Odakyū Electric Railway, Seibu Railway, Tōbu Railway, and Tōkyū Corporation. In addition to Tokyo's two subway systems (Tokyo Metro and Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation ("Toei" and "Toden" lines), Yokohama operates three lines. The Tokyo Monorail provides service to Haneda Airport and other destinations.


The Shuto Expressway system connects other national expressways in the capital region.

Tokyo and Yokohama are major commercial seaports, and both the Maritime Self-Defense Force and United States Navy maintain naval bases at Yokosuka.

See also

*List of metropolitan areas in Japan by population
*National Capital Region (Japan) briefly shows the two definitions of the "Capital Area" (Shuto-ken.)


External links

* [ Urban Employment Areas in Japan] (2000)

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