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The Great-Edo Metropolis  

  


The Emergence of "Greater Edo" (Ōedo)


[Bird's-eye View Illustration of Ōedo (Ōedo Chokan-zu)]

The term, "Greater Edo " came into being and used among ordinary people at around the middle of the 18th century. Although it is difficult to estimate exactly how many residents existed in the city of Edo during the Kyōhō era (1716-1736), it is widely believed that there were more than one million people living in the city. In the early 1800's, the population of Tokyo was 900,000, the population of London was 860,000 and the population of Paris was 540,000 and so during the middle of the Edo period, the town of Edo had a massive population by world standards that surpassed that of Peking and London making Edo a huge metropolis well deserving of the title Greater Edo.


Illustration of the Outskirts of Tokyo Metropolis (Tōto Kinkō-zu)
1825 (Bunsei 8)


The rapid population rise came in the context of the Sankin-kotai or 'alternate-year residence in Edo'. The Sankin-kotai policy required all the daimyō lords to reside in Edo each alternative year and this meant that all the vassals together with their goods and local produce would all be assembled in Edo. Furthermore, this meant Edo became a huge consumer market with increased demand for ‘kudari-mono’ (‘downbound descending goods’ from the Kansai area) and jimawari-mono (‘locally produced goods’ from parts of Edo) from the outskirts. As a result, towards the end of the 18th century, Edo had surpassed the Kyoto area both economically and culturally and fulfilling its function as the central population center of Japan living up to its title as 'Eastern capital' in both name and substance.

* To view more explanation, please click the each image.


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