Tokyo Area Guides



The Setup of Greater Tokyo and its Wards

The Metropolitan Tokyo area is made up of 23 wards, 26 cities, 5 towns and 8 villages, including the Izu islands and the Ogasawara islands. There are 23 special wards that together make up the core and the most populous part of Tokyo, Japan. The wards in unison occupy the land that was originally designated as the City of Tokyo, a designation that was abolished in 1943 to pave way for the newly created Tokyo Metropolis at that time. It is sometimes common that in English the wards are referred to as a “city” but in reality the closest English equivalents would be like London boroughs rather than actual cities.

The special wards are autonomous from the Tokyo metropolitan government and they function as a single urban entity in respect to certain public services, including water supply, sewage disposal, and fire services, and managing public services within their area, such as schools, public medical centers, and facilities.

The wards vary greatly in size (from 10 to 60 and population (from under 40,000 to 830,000 people), and some are expanding with land reclamation efforts. Setagaya Ward has the most people, while neighboring Ota Ward has the largest land size. As of December 2012, the population was 9 million, representing about two-thirds of the population of Tokyo and one-fourth of the Greater Tokyo area population.

Minato Ward

Shibuya Ward