What Was Tokyo Called in Ancient Times?

Tokyo, the bustling capital city of Japan, has a rich history that dates back centuries. But what was it called in ancient times? Let’s take a journey through time to explore the origins of this vibrant city.

The Early Years

The area that is now Tokyo was originally a small fishing village known as Edo. In the 12th century, Edo was ruled by the Edo clan and remained a small and relatively unimportant town for many years.

It wasn’t until the late 16th century that Edo began to emerge as a major city. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Japan’s most powerful daimyos (feudal lords), established his headquarters in Edo. From this point on, Edo became an important political and cultural center.

The Name Change

In 1868, Japan underwent a period of rapid modernization known as the Meiji Restoration. As part of this process, the country underwent significant social and political changes – including a shift in capital cities.

In 1869, Emperor Meiji moved his capital to Edo, which was then renamed Tokyo – meaning “Eastern Capital” in Japanese. The name change reflected Japan’s new direction as a modern nation.

Modern-Day Tokyo

Today, Tokyo is one of the world’s most populous cities – home to over 13 million people. It is also one of Japan’s most important economic centers and a hub for technology and innovation.

Despite its rapid modernization and growth over the past century or so, Tokyo remains deeply rooted in its history and traditions. Visitors can explore ancient temples and shrines alongside towering skyscrapers and high-tech gadgets.


Although it may have gone by different names throughout its history, Tokyo has always been an important cultural and political center in Japan. Its evolution from a small fishing village to a bustling metropolis reflects the country’s own journey towards modernity and progress. Today, Tokyo remains a vibrant and exciting city – with a rich history that is waiting to be explored.