Edo

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Edo (?), literally: bay-entrance, "estuary", pronounced [edo], also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868. During this period it grew to become one of the largest cities in the world and the site of a vibrant urban culture centered on notions of the "floating world".[1]

Contents

History

Edo magistrates

From the establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu''s headquarters at Edo, Kyoto remained merely the formal capital of the country. The de facto capital was now Edo, because it was the center of real political power. Edo consequently rapidly grew from what had been a small, virtually unknown fishing village in 1457 to a metropolis with an estimated population of 1,000,000 by 1721, the largest city in the world at the time.[1][3]

Edo was repeatedly devastated by fires, with the Great Fire of Meireki in 1657—in which an estimated 100,000 people died—perhaps the most disastrous. During the Edo period there were about one hundred fires, typically started by accident and often quickly escalating to giant proportions, spreading through neighbourhoods of wooden machiya that were heated with charcoal fires. Between 1600 and 1945, Edo/Tokyo was leveled every 25–50 years or so by fire, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and war.

In 1868, when the shogunate came to an end, the city was renamed Tokyo, meaning "eastern capital", and the emperor moved his residence to Tokyo, making the city the formal capital of Japan.

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