The eastern mainland part of Tokyo occupies land that, together with the modern-day Saitama Prefecture, the city of Kawasaki and the eastern part of Yokohama, made up Musashi, one of the provinces under the ritsuryō system. This was established in the 7th century. The central part of the 23 special wards lay in Toshima, Ebara, Adachi, and Katsushika Districts. Western Tokyo occupied Tama District. Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple, Sensō-ji in Asakusa, is said to date from the year 645.
In the Kamakura period, the village of Edo was established. The construction of Edo Castle by Ōta Dōkan, a vassal of Uesugi Mochitomo, began in 1457 during the Muromachi period in what is now the East Garden of the Imperial Palace. Hōjō Ujitsuna entered Edo Castle in 1524, and Tokugawa Ieyasu moved there in 1590.
The Edo period
began when Tokugawa Ieyasu became shogun
in 1603. The city developed rapidly under his successors. The construction of Edo Castle, including the main tower, was finally completed in 1637. In 1657, the Great Fire of Meireki
destroyed much of the Yoshiwara red-light district
, and Edo Castle, while 100,000 people died.
In 1701, in the shogun's palace, Asano Naganori drew his sword and attacked Kira Yoshinaka, the highest-ranking master of protocol. Asano was immediately forced to commit seppuku. At the end of the following year, his 47 master-less retainers avenged their master's death by attacking and beheading Kira at his residence in Ryōgoku. This story of loyalty soon became a timeless classic known as Chūshingura.
Mount Fuji erupted and spewed ash on Edo in 1707. In 1855, the Great Edo Earthquake occurred.
Edo had more a population of more than 1 million by the mid-eighteenth century.
The bakumatsu era saw an increase in political activity. In 1860 Ii Naosuke, who favored opening Japan to the West, was assassinated by an anti-foreign rebel samurai. Japan's last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, surrendered power to the emperor in 1867 and fled Edo in 1868 following military defeat by powerful provincial powers seeking power in the name of the Emperor.
- 1868 With the Meiji Restoration, the ruler of Japan shifts from the shogun to an oligarchy ruling under the banner of the emperor. Edo is renamed as Tokyo (Tokio), meaning "Eastern Capital", as ordered by Emperor Meiji.
- 1869 Emperor Meiji moves to Tokyo and makes Tokyo Castle the Imperial Palace. However, the capital was never legally "transferred" from Kyoto to Tokyo, making some people believe that Kyoto may still be the capital, or a co-capital today. See: Capital of Japan. Samurai from the Satsuma and Chōshū (and other) regions, having defeated the Tokugawa, take crucial roles in the new ruling oligarchy. A foreigner settlement is established at Tsukiji.
- 1871 The feudal han system is abolished to establish the prefectural system. Tokyo Prefecture is thereby established.
- 1872 Tokyo Prefecture expands to include what is now the 23 wards.
- 1874 The Tokyo metropolitan Police Department is established.
- 1877 A modern higher education school was opened, an origin of University of Tokyo.
- 1882 Ueno Zoo is completed.
- 1885 The first section of what was to become the Yamanote Line opens between Akabane and Shinagawa Stations. Train stations such as Shibuya and Shinjuku Stations open as a result.
- 1889 Tokyo City is established with 15 wards.
- Kanebo made its new factory in the eastern rural area of Tokyo Prefecture.
- 1893 The three Tama districts are admitted into Tokyo Prefecture, from Kanagawa Prefecture.
- 1898 The special city ordinance for Tokyo city is abolished, making Tokyo city a normal city.
- 1899 The foreigner settlement at Tsukiji is abolished.
- 1903 The first tram lines was opened.
- 1905 For protest against the Treaty of Portsmouth and closing the Russo-Japanese War, the Hibiya Incendiary Incident occurred at Hibiya Park.
- 1914 Tokyo Station opens.
- 1920 Meiji Shrine is constructed.
- 1921 The prime minister, Takashi Hara, is assassinated at Tokyo Station.
- 1923 The Great Kantō earthquake strikes Tokyo, killing approximately 70,000 people. A massive reconstruction plan was drawn up, but was too expensive to complete.
- 1924 Ueno Park opens.
- 1925 The Yamanote Line looping train line is finally completed when the section between Kanda and Ueno Stations is completed. Construction first started in 1885.
- 1927 Tokyo's first subway (Ginza Line) opens between Asakusa and Ueno.
- 1931 Tokyo Airport is made at Haneda, the south end of Tokyo.
- 1932 Five districts and 82 towns and villages are admitted to Tokyo city which then has 35 wards.
- 1936 The National Diet Building is completed.
- In an attempted coup (the February 26 Incident), nearly 1500 junior officers of Japan's army occupied the National Diet Building, the Kantei (Prime Minister's Residence) and other key locations in Tokyo. The coup was suppressed by the Army and Navy within three days.
- 1942 Tokyo suffers the Doolittle Raid, its first air raid by US bombers, soon after the Pearl Harbor attack on December 1941.
- 1943 Tokyo Prefecture and Tokyo city merge to form Tokyo Metropolis or Tokyo-to, commonly called "Tokyo." Since this time, no city in Japan has had the name "Tokyo."
- 1945 Tokyo was heavily bombed, and much of the city was burned to the ground by heavy bombardment by B-29 and other aircraft. Extensive tracts of land were leveled both by the explosions and by the subsequent fires. The damage was not limited to the former Tokyo City, but extended to Hachioji and other cities in western Tokyo, as the bombers targeted air bases, transportation facilities, and strategically important manufacturing plants. From February to March, the Battle of Iwo Jima was fought on Iwo Jima. Due to the heavy death toll and populace fleeing to the countryside, the population in 1945 was only half that of 1940. From September on, Tokyo is under military occupation and governed by the Allied forces, and the Ogasawara Islands (Bonin Islands) was separated to U.S. military occupation. General Douglas MacArthur established the occupation headquarters in what is now the DN Tower 21 (formerly the Dai-Ichi Seimei building) overlooking the Imperial Palace. The American presence in Tokyo made it an important command and logistics center during the Korean War. Tokyo still hosts Yokota Air Base and a small number of minor U.S. military installations.
- 1946 The first after 1935, the Central May Day Festival was held on the Fromt Park of Tokyo Imperial Palace.
- 1947 Tokyo's number of wards is reduced to 23 which then becomes the special wards. Kathleen Typhoon floods eastern Tokyo.
- 1948 It was sentenced, the judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE, Tokyo Trial). Seven men were executed.
- 1950 The Capital Construction Law was decided.
- 1954 The Marunouchi Line, Tokyo's second subway line, opens between Ikebukuro and Ochanomizu.
- 1957 Tokyo Metropolitan Government makes Ogochi Dam on Tama River, with Lake Okutama in Okutama, northwest in Tokyo for drinking water service.
- 1958 Tokyo Tower is completed.
- 1961 The Hibiya subway line opens between Minami-senju and Naka-Okachimachi.
- 1962 The population of Tokyo was estimated as over 10,000,000, the largest city in the world. The first line of the Shuto Expressway is on service.
- 1964 The Tōkaidō Shinkansen opens on October 1 in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games starting on October 10. Tokyo's re-emergence from wartime trauma was complete at the 1964 Summer Olympics, which publicized the city on an international stage and brought global attention to the "economic miracle".
- 1967 The first and only one leftwing Governor, Ryokichi Minobe was elected, with recommend by Japan Socialist Party (SDPJ, JSP) and Japanese Communist Party (JCP).
- 1968 The Ogasawara Islands (Bonin Islands) are returned to Japan and become a part of Tokyo, Ogasawara Village. The Tōmei Expressway is opened, and Tokyo Inter Change, the origin of this way is in Setegaya Ward, and connected to the center of Tokyo by the Shuto Expressway.
- 1971 In the south-western area of Tokyo, Tama New Town accepted its first regidents.
- 1972 Almost of Tokyo Toden, 181km of tram lines were closed, except a short part, now Toden Arakawa Line. Takeshi Kitano starts his career in comedy at a strip theater in Asakusa.
- 1977 Tachikawa Air Force Base is returned to Japan and later converted partially into a park.
- 1978 The New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport) in nearby Chiba Prefecture opens. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) then serves mainly domestic flights.
- 1979 The 5th G7 summit was in Tokyo. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) got back the position of the governor, by the win of Shunichi Suzuki in election.
- 1985 New Ryōgoku Kokugikan opens, used for Sumo.
- 1986 The bubble economy starts with land prices skyrocketing. Mount Mihara made serious eruption, and all regidents of Izu Ōshima were left from the island temporally.
- 1988 The Tokyo Dome indoor baseball stadium opens.
- 1989 Emperor Hirohito (Emperor Showa) died in the Palace.
- 1990 The bubble economy starts to pop, triggering a fall in Tokyo land prices.
- 1991 The new Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku is completed. The office is moved from Yurakucho.
- 1993 The Rainbow Bridge is completed. It supports the development in the waterfront area on the Tokyo Bay, Odaiba and so on.
- 1995 On March 20, the Aum Shinrikyo cult spread Sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway system (in the tunnels beneath the political district of central Tokyo) in which 12 people were killed and thousands affected (see Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway). Newly-elected Tokyo governor Yukio Aoshima announces that he will keep his campaign promise and cancel the World City Expo that was to be held in 1996 in the Odaiba waterfront area.
- 1999 Shintaro Ishihara is elected Governor of Tokyo, returns from the lost in 1975 by Minobe.
- 2000 The Oedo subway line opens. By volcanic eruption, Miyakejima became an uninhabited island till 2005.
- 2001 Studio Ghibli serves its Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, the eastern of Tama area.
- 2003 Shintaro Ishihara is reelected Governor of Tokyo. Roppongi Hills opens.
- 2005 The Tsukuba Express railway line opens.
- 2007 The claim became to settlement, about the air pollution problem in Tokyo.
- 2008 Tokyo 2016 Olympic bid is recognized to one of the official candidates from IOC. Tokyo Metro begins the operation of its Fukutoshin Line, and announces it won't construct additional sections. The length of subway network is nearly 400km.
- 2011 Completion of Sumida Tower, Japan's tallest structure (about 610m high displacing the CN Tower in Toronto as the world's tallest free-standing structure). Completion of the renovation of Tokyo Station.