Keihin Industrial 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 , , , and others.

It is the world's most populous metropolitan area (35,327,000 at 2005 estimate), covering an area of approximately 13,500 km² (5,200 mi²). It is the second largest in the world in terms of built-up or urban function landmass at 7,800 km² (3,000 mi²). Only the urban area surrounding New York City, at 8,700 km², is larger.


Like most metropolitan areas, the actual population size depends on definition. There are various different definitions used for what is commonly known as Greater Tokyo Area.

Figures by definition

  • The , a southern part of the Kantō region, including the aforementioned one metropolis (Tokyo) and three prefectures (Chiba, Kanagawa, and Saitama) with the populations (as of 2008) of 34.9 million. This is the most commonly used definition but misses many suburbs that lay outside the borders.
  • The is one of the two definitions the Japan Statistics Bureau uses. It consists of all municipalities that have at least 1.5% of their population aged 15 and above commuting to a designated city (Yokohama, Kawasaki, Chiba, and Saitama) or the 23 special wards. Before Saitama became a designated city in 2001, the area was called . As of 2000, the area has the populations of 34.6 million.
  • The is another definition by the Japan Statistics Bureau. It is the set of municipalities that are completely or mostly within 50 and 70 kilometres of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings in Shinjuku, with populations (as of 2000) of 30,724,000 and 34,394,000 respectively. However, suburbs tend to extend in a finger like outward along major train routes so this isn't the most accurate definition.
  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Employment Area, which is also called 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.

Region (Core) Population
February 2008 estimates
Japan Statistics Bureau
per km²
Tokyo Prefecture (Urban) 12,770,000 1,457.3 8,762.8
Kanagawa Prefecture (Urban) 8,877,000 2,191.1 4,051.4
Saitama Prefecture (Urban) 6,997,000 2,867.53 2,440.1
Chiba Prefecture (West Bay) 4,829,000 1,788.94 2,699.4
4 Prefectures, Core areas 33,473,000 8,304.87 4,030

For the table below, it includes continuous suburban areas not interrupted by rural land plus the core areas as above, using this definition, Greater Tokyo is still smaller in land area than the smallest metropolitan area definition for New York City, the MSA of New York metropolitan area, which has 18.75 million people and 17,405 km². compared to Tokyo's 39.19 million and 16,410 km². This definition is very similar to Kantō Major Metropolitan Area, but updated for 2008. Extending the definition of Tokyo further doesn't significantly change the population figures as land becomes rural and mountainous. The Combined Statistical Area of New York is far looser definition at 30,671 km². and 21.9 million people.

Continuous suburban areas
February 2008 estimates
per km²
Chiba Prefecture (Suburban) 1,288,400 3,368.56 382.48
Northeast (parts of Gunma, Tochigi) 1,586,100 1,588.14 998.71
Northwest (parts of Tochigi, Ibaraki) 1,924,800 2,110.15 912.2
Southwest (part of Izu Peninsula) 916,400 1,038.85 934.6
Total Suburban Areas 5,715,400 8,105.70 705.1
Greater Tokyo 39,188,400 16,410.57 2,388

Various definitions of Tokyo/Kantō

Metropolitan Area definitions for Tokyo

  • The is a potentially ambiguous term. Informally, it may mean the One Metropolis, Three Prefectures, or the area without Saitama Prefecture. Formally, it may mean the South Kantō Block, which is not the Greater Tokyo Area, but a proportional representation block of the national election, comprised of Kanagawa, Chiba, and Yamanashi Prefectures.
  • In informal occasions, the term often means Greater Tokyo Area. Officially, the term refers to a much larger area, namely the whole Kantō region and Yamanashi Prefecture.

The Greater Tokyo Area continues to increase its population and density despite a demographic decline nationwide. It should be noted that Tokyo as a metropolis includes some 394 km of islands (Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands), as well as some mountainous areas to the far west, which are not part of Greater Tokyo, but have comparatively very small population.


(populations listed for those over 300,000)

Cities within Tokyo

Tokyo is legally classified as a , a word which translates as "metropolis," and is treated as one of the forty-seven prefectures of Japan. It is not administered as a single city.

Eastern Tokyo Metropolis

Central Tokyo, situated in the eastern portion of Tokyo Metropolis, was once incorporated as Tokyo City, which was dismantled during World War II. Its subdivisions have been reclassified as . The twenty three special wards currently have the legal status of cities, with individual mayors and city councils, and call themselves "cities" in English. However, when listing Japan's largest cities, Tokyo's twenty three wards are often counted as one city. See: Special wards of Tokyo

Western Tokyo Metropolis

Western Tokyo, known as the Tama Area (Tama-chiiki 多摩地域) comprises a number of municipalities, including these suburban cities:

  • Higashiyamato
  • Hino
  • Inagi
  • Kiyose
  • Kodaira
  • Koganei
  • Kokubunji
  • Komae
  • Kunitachi
  • Machida (pop over 410,000)
  • Mitaka
  • Musashimurayama
  • Musashino
  • Nishitōkyō
  • Ōme
  • Tachikawa
  • Tama
  • Cities outside Tokyo

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

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

  • Isehara
  • Kamagaya
  • Kamakura
  • Kamogawa
  • Kashiwa (pop 380,000)
  • Kasukabe
  • Katsuura
  • Kawagoe (pop 330,000)
  • Kawaguchi (pop 500,000)
  • Kazo
  • Kimitsu
  • Kisarazu
  • Kitamoto
  • Koshigaya (population 318,000)
  • Kōnosu
  • Kuki
  • Kumagaya
  • Matsudo (pop 480,000)
  • Minamiashigara
  • Misato
  • Miura
  • Mobara
  • Nagareyama
  • Narashino
  • Narita
  • Niiza
  • Noda
  • Odawara
  • Okegawa
  • Sagamihara (pop 700,000)
  • Sakado
  • Sakura
  • Satte
  • Sawara
  • Sayama
  • Shiki
  • Shiroi
  • Sodegaura
  • Sōka
  • Tateyama
  • Toda
  • Tōgane
  • Tokorozawa (pop 338,000)
  • Tomisato
  • Tsurugashima
  • Urayasu
  • Wakō
  • Warabi
  • Yachimata
  • Yachiyo
  • Yamato
  • Yashio
  • Yōkaichiba
  • Yokosuka (pop 420,000)
  • Yoshikawa
  • Yotsukaidō
  • Zama
  • Zushi
  • 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

  • Koga
  • Moriya
  • Ryūgasaki
  • Toride
  • Tsuchiura
  • Tsukuba
  • Ushiku
  • 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.

    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


    External links

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