- The capital and largest city of Japan, in east-central Honshu on Tokyo Bay, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Founded in the 12th century as Edo, Tokyo became the imperial capital in 1868. Much of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1923 and by bombing raids during World War II. Population: 8,270,000.
The names of Japan's first and current capitals, Kyoto and Tokyo, appear to us to be made up of the same two elements reversed, but in fact they have only one element in common. The elements of T-ky
are old borrowings from Middle Chinese: t
means "east" and ky
means "capital," so together they mean "east(ern) capital." Chinese has another word for "capital," pronounced d,
whose Middle Chinese ancestor was borrowed into Japanese as to,
"capital, large city." This is found in the name Kyoto,
which was Japan's capital from 794 to 1192. The first part of Kyto, ky,
is in fact the same word for "capital" found in Tokyo. Kyto
thus means "capital city."