Development of Tokyo as a Festival City

“Receiving Imperial Gift of Sake: View of Edobashi Bridge and Nihombashi Bridge”/ On Collection at the Edo-Tokyo Museum

Passing Down a Love of Festivals, From Edo to Tokyo
In the July of 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo, then in September, Meiji was chosen as the name for the new era. What made this change hit home for ordinary citizens was Emperor Meiji’s entrance to the castle on October 13th, 1868 – the first year of the Meiji era. Given sake soon thereafter by the Emperor, the townspeople, known for their love of festivals, erupted into festivity in a festival-like event called Go-Shu Chodai (“Receiving Sake”), which was then turned into woodblock prints at the time. The townspeople’s festive spirit has been passed down to modern Tokyo, shining through first and foremost with the Three Great Edo Festivals of Kanda Matsuri, Sanno Matsuri, and Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri, as well as through festivals with roots outside the capital that have evolved in a unique way in recent years, such as the Tokyo Koenji Awa Odori and the Asakusa Samba Carnival.
The Tokyo Townscape, Spruced Up and More Appealing for the Olympics
Tokyo was chosen to host its first ever Olympics in 1959. In preparation for the event, to be held five years later in 1964, the city underwent large-scale infrastructure development. Established as the main stadium at the time was the venue for the 3rd Asian Games hosted in 1958, the former National Stadium in Kasumigaoka. Other buildings that have become an integral part of the modern Tokyo townscape were also built at this time, such as Yoyogi National Gymnasium, the Budokan, and Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium. At the same time, it was decided that an Olympic road spanning 54.6 km as well as the Metropolitan Expressway (32.9 km) would be established. Preparations for the 2020 Olympics are underway in Tokyo today as well, proceeding at a fast pace. In the Heritage Zone, which builds upon the legacy of the 1964 Olympics, the New National Stadium will be built on the site of the former National Stadium in Kasumigaoka. Then, in the Tokyo Bay Zone facing Tokyo Bay, new centers for biodiversity, featuring water and greenery, will be created in addition to Olympic facilities, adding charm to the streets of Tokyo.

Photo Courtesy of: Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Changing Face of Nishi Shinjuku and its Redevelopment Over Time
Nishi Shinjuku sprawls out on the west side of Shinjuku Station, one of the leading hubs in the world. While the streets are lined with high rises nowadays, the area was known as Juniso during the Edo period and was a popular scenic suburb dotted with waterfalls and ponds. In 1898, the ponds were filled in and the Yodobashi Water Purification Plant was built as an essential utility during Tokyo’s rapid development, which then moved to Higashimurayama City in 1965. It was then decided that the area would be redeveloped as the Shinjuku sub-center. After the first high-rise hotel in Japan – the Keio Plaza Hotel – was built in 1971, skyscrapers began sprouting up all over the area, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government moved here from Marunouchi the year following the completion of a new 48-story government building in 1990. This, along with Shinjuku Central Park, made Shinjuku a new attraction within Tokyo.