• The unique sensibility, high culture and education which grew into maturity in the Edo period became the driving force in the rapid modernisation of Tokyo, helping it to establish a strong position in international society.
• It is using arts and culture to meet the challenges of its demographic transition by creating more opportunities for social inclusion and public engagement.
• The city of Tokyo intends to create a tangible and intangible cultural legacy from the 2020 Tokyo Games.
City data: Key facts
Geographical area: 2,130 sq. km
Total population: 13,513,734
Total national population living in the city: 10.6 %
Education level – with degree level or higher: 25.5 %
GDP (PPP) (million): US$ 906,418
Creative industries employment: 12.9 %
In the Edo period – which lasted about 260 years until 1868, a year before the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo – a world class society was formed centring around the city of Edo (later Tokyo). This included a commodity economy, the development of 5 arterial roads, and the creation of an education system (such as the foundation of terakoya, temple schools). The talent of ukiyo-e artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige, whose works had a significant influence on western artists as Japonisme, also bloomed. The unique sensibility, high culture and education which grew into maturity in the Edo period, were left as a legacy for the next generation. It was this legacy that became the driving force in the rapid modernisation of Tokyo, and helped it to establish a strong position in international society.
Today there are 13 million residents in the metropolis of Tokyo, and 38 million in the metropolitan area. By the latter measure it is the largest city in the world, and by any measure it was one of the first megacities.
The population of the city is gradually decreasing after peaking in 2015. This decrease is expected to accelerate even further, with a declining birth rate and a growing proportion of elderly people . The demographic transition (change) has become a major issue for 21st century Tokyo. The Tokyo Vision for Arts and Culture, developed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2015, sets the goal of tackling these issues using arts and culture. For example, embodying the vision, a project titled “TURN” is being implemented in collaboration with non-profit organisations and volunteers as one of cultural programmes leading towards the 2020 Tokyo Games. In the project, they are not only exchanging ideas, and producing and exhibiting works together with elderly people and people with disabilities, but also creating more opportunities for public engagement and social inclusions. More citizens in Tokyo are becoming involved with social activities by setting up non-profit organisations or participating in volunteer activities with the aim of improving the quality of their lives.
The identity of Tokyo is a diversity of areas that have developed over many years. There are areas like Asakusa, Akihabara, Harajuku and Shibuya which have distinctive cultural characteristics. Tokyo is known for its historic shrines and temples, and for traditional performing arts such as Noh, Kabuki, Rakugo, industrial art and festivals handed down and celebrated for generations. At the same time, the capital is also renowned as a source of new culture such as cutting edge fashion, media content, design, animation, pop art, and technology. Tokyo aims to become a hub where both international and Japanese creators can gather together. Not only has the new communication tool “LINE” spread all over the world, but Niconico – Japan’s largest video social website, which has over 50 million registered members – organises the Niconico Chokaigi festival, which aims to ‘Recreate Niconico’s world in real life.’ Over 15 million people attend the festival and its live online streaming video is viewed more than 50 million people every year.
The arts and culture of the city is underpinned by the uniqueness and diversity of its blend of the traditional and modern which juxtapose and fuse together. Tokyo, which remains the most important centre for traditional Japanese culture, has major venues for such art, including the Kabuki-za Theatre, the National Noh Theatre and the Kokugikan Hall. This concentration of traditional culture remains a source of inspiration for contemporary fashion, design and architecture. Preserving this inspiration by passing on traditional culture is a priority for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is bringing hands-on experience programmes in traditional Japanese culture to schoolchildren, informal tea ceremonies in Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony and first-hand experience short programmes in traditional culture and the performing arts for foreign visitors.
In 2020, Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held during a time of high economic growth and therefore focused on the core theme of rapid and vigorous urban development. But Tokyo in the year 2020 will represent a mature society rather than one that is still growing. Thus it is important to leave an unprecedented legacy for future generations. The Tokyo Vision, sets the objective of creating tangible and intangible cultural legacies by seizing the opportunity presented by the Tokyo 2020 Games to promote interaction between people and the creative activities of artists from around the world on the Tokyo stage.
The cross disciplinary art festival Tokyo Metropolitan Festival was held for the first time in the autumn of 2016. In this first year it focused on the performing arts, including plays, workshops and other events centred around the Ikebukuro area where small theatre groups and aspiring actors gather. The festival has become one of the largest international performing art festivals after the integration of Festival/Tokyo. It will encourage people to engage by offering free or low cost tickets; promoting multilingualisation during plays, in brochures, and on its website; and inviting foreign producers, directors and artists for collaboration. This will be with the aim of showcasing the multi-layered performing art scene of Tokyo to the rest of the world in a comprehensible way.
Edo-Tokyo is a world-class metropolis which has been built by the effort and wisdom of its predecessors. Now Tokyo faces the challenge of how to leave a legacy for future generations by making use of the wisdom of the past in order to keep on developing the city. The 2020 Tokyo Games will be a major opportunity to showcase the maturity of the city to the world.