Central Tokyo is populated by some of Japan's most iconic districts and attractions, such as the Imperial Palace, Ginza, Roppongi, Akihabara, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. It's the beating heart of the country, politically, commercially, and economically.
Historically, Central Tokyo referred to the wards of Chiyoda and Chuo that were reserved for the shogun and his samurai warriors. More recently, Central Tokyo has come to incorporate a much wider area, enveloping Minata, Shibuya, Shinagawa, and Shinjuku. The majority of Tokyo's most popular attractions are located here, from electronics neighbourhoods to public parks, upmarket shopping streets to ancient temples.
Within Central Tokyo, Chiyoda remains the seat of parliament and the home of the Imperial Palace, along with a resplendent collection of gardens and shrines. Akihabara, the fabled electronics district, is also found here. Upmarket shopping district Ginza and the Tsukiji Fish Markets are the highlights of Chuo ward. The skyscrapers of Roppongi are the obvious compass points in Minato ward.
Shinagawa lies to the south of Minato and is Tokyo's transport crossroads, containing its highest density of hotels. Iconic Shibuya, with its vibrant subculture and busy crossing, lies in the west of Central Tokyo. Shinjuku ward is due north of Shibuya.
All these wards have excellent public transport connections, with express trains providing direct connections between different districts. The circular JR Yamanote connects all major stations and links with almost all of Tokyo's overland and subway train lines.
By Japanese standards Tokyo is a new city, holding barely 500 years of history. It evolved from the fishing village of Edo and became the seat of the powerful Tokugawa shogunate in the early 17th century. Yet it wasn't until the imperial family moved here in the late 19th century that Tokyo received its modern name and became the country's capital.