Even now, I can not perceive the size of Tokyo. I love that fact. I simply can not put into my mind how large it is. The following video reminded me of that fact.
And so in an attempt to try to visualize the size of Tokyo, I want to compare it to Sweden. I’ve wanted to do this many times before but haven’t prioritized it. It is actually harder to create a decent visualization of this than I first thought. Here is an attempt, but it is far from perfect.
Let’s start with some definitions. The Greater Tokyo Area is an area that is sort of considered to be Tokyo to many people. If you live in the Greater Tokyo Area you probably work inside Tokyo and you live within Tokyos train network and things like that. For all practical purposes you live in Tokyo, but you might officially be living in a different district than Tokyo. In this area 32.5 Million people live.
Let’s overlay the outline of Skåne, the part of Sweden in which I live, on top of the Greater Tokyo Area. The green outline is Greater Tokyo and the red outline is Skåne. The grey parts in this map is indeed city. So Greater Tokyo is basically like building a very large city over all of Skåne and putting 3 times Sweden’s population in that city.
Let’s do the opposite and put the outline of Greater Tokyo on top of Skåne, just to be more clear in the illustration.
There is significantly much more green in that picture. But in the bottom left we can see a small patch of grey, that’s Malmö. Sweden’s third largest city. Let’s compare Malmö to Tokyo.
Malmö has a total of 650,000 people living in it including those that don’t really live in the city but in towns on the outskirts that are officially part of Malmö. Tokyo is the one region that is officially called Tokyo, which is significantly smaller than Greater Tokyo. In Tokyo there lives around 13,000,000 people. That’s 13 million compared to 650 thousand.
Let’s put the outline of Tokyo on top of Skåne so we can continue from the picture above.
The green is Tokyo and the red is Malmö. Pretty interesting. But I think it is better illustrated by putting Malmö on top of Tokyo.
There you go. For those familiar with Malmö you get a pretty good idea of how big that area is, and as you might be able to imagine from the map, that grey area is covered with skyscrapers.
Let’s zoom in on the interesting part of Tokyo, the most lively centre. It’s illustrated in the blue square below and is roughly the size of Malmö, just slightly larger.
In this little square, we have all the common tourist spots. This little square inside Tokyo, inside Greater Tokyo, is the area we managed to slightly explore in a month the first time we were in Japan. Or to be honest, we didn’t even explore half of it.
When we lived in Tokyo the past year we lived in Nakano, which is leftmost dot on the map. The other dots are the different famous areas, those that are written about most in tourist books and blogs. Odaiba is my favorite area to just relax and walk along the “beach”. Akihabara is my favorite area for electronics and Shibuya is my favorite area for partying.
When my mom came to visit for a week we rushed around every day and we managed to see these 10 spots in 6 days, so we did almost two places per day and that was a very high pace. These 10 places are the bare minimum you should see if you ever go to Tokyo. And these are just a small square within Tokyo, which is a small area within Greater Tokyo, which is just one part of Japan you should see.