Tokyo is the capital of Japan and its largest city, located in the southeastern part of the central Japanese island of Honshu on the Kanto plain. The city surprisingly coexists with old narrow streets with fashionable quarters of modern buildings.
Tokyo Prefecture consists of 23 special districts, 26 individual cities, 7 towns and 8 villages, including the islands of Izu and Ogasawara – several small Pacific Islands in the south of Japan’s main island of Honshu. 23 special districts are the center of Tokyo and make up about one third of the area of the capital, while the number of residents is about eight of the twelve million inhabitants of Tokyo.
Until the 60s of the last century, a large number of manufacturing industries were concentrated in Tokyo. Currently, many large enterprises have been moved outside the city limits. In the city, high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries are predominantly developed.
Over the past decades, Tokyo has grown into the world’s largest metropolis. In particular, this was facilitated by a convenient transport infrastructure – two international airports Narita and Haneda, the largest seaport. Also passing through Tokyo is the Shinkansen line of high-speed trains and high-speed highways, for which overpasses with multi-level interchanges are laid through densely built-up quarters. About 25 million people use public transport in Tokyo every day.
Tokyo is the largest scientific and cultural center of Japan. Here are the oldest universities – Tokyo, Waseda, Keio, Hosei and others. The city has several hundred art galleries and dozens of public and private museums. The Tokyo National Museum houses 85,000 works of art, painting, and sculpture.
In recent years, Tokyo has become one of the world’s largest financial centers. In terms of financial transactions, the Tokyo Stock Exchange is comparable to the famous stock exchanges of New York and London.
Numerous parks and squares are a favorite vacation spot for citizens. There are 1750 Shinto and 2953 Buddhist temples in the city.
Ryokans of Japan
Japan is a territory of high seismic activity. About 10% of the world’s active volcanoes are concentrated here, and as a result, there are many mineral springs (onsen in Japanese). According to statistics, there are more than 2,600 mineral spring resorts in Japan, where more than 20,000 infrastructure facilities (ryokans, hotels, public baths, etc.) are located.
According to the Law on Mineral Springs, adopted in 1948, an onsen is a hot underground spring, the natural temperature of which is not lower than 25 degrees Celsius, and which contains at least one mineral compound (sulphur, carbon dioxide, manganese, etc.) Strictly speaking, Onsen in Japan is called the mineral spring itself, but in the broadest sense of the word, it also refers to the entire infrastructure, one way or another, connected with it. In accordance with the mechanism of heat generation, hot springs are usually divided into two types: volcanic origin, fed by magma, and non-volcanic. Japanese onsen almost without exception belong to the first type, and depending on the mineral composition, they differ from each other both in color and smell, and in medical indications. They even say that here at any point,
The inexplicable life-giving power of underground hot water, healing wounds and diseases, has been known to the Japanese since ancient times and gave rise to many legends and legends. In an era when there was no concept of hygiene, and medicine was in its infancy, onsen were revered by the Japanese as a precious gift from the deities with supernatural healing powers. Almost every Japanese onsen has a legend-history of its origin, and wild animals and birds who healed their wounds in them, or wandering monks act as the pioneers of these magical springs.
Almost everywhere in Japan you can find a Shinto shrine, where the object of deification and worship is the onsen as such. And mentions of hot springs are found 1300 years ago in the very first written monuments (Nihon-shoki, Annals of Japan, compiled in 720), which speaks of Arima-onsen (to the north of the modern city of Kobe), Dogo-onsen ( in the city of Matsue on the island of Shikoku) and Tamatsukuri-onsen (in Shimane Prefecture, not far from the ancient Shinto shrine Izumo-taisha). It may seem all the more surprising that ordinary Japanese people got the opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of life-giving hot springs relatively recently, starting from the Edo period (1603-1868). It was then that visiting the nearest onsen for medicinal purposes became an extremely popular pastime among the village population in periods, free from agricultural work. Gradually, infrastructure for visitors began to develop near the springs, first in the form of separate inns, which then turned into entire resort towns.
A variety of options for arranging sources and methods of taking mineral baths that have come down to our time (sunayu – sand baths, utaseyu – under the pressure of falling water, asiya – steaming and relieving leg fatigue, etc.), as well as the most effective bath procedures designed for specific mineral composition of this source, also originated in the Edo period. The most characteristic and distinctive feature of the Japanese onsen resorts from the European counterpart is the unique combination and inseparable connection of treatment on the waters with a rich and extremely interesting tourist program.