Kanto is the most developed, urbanized and industrialized portion of Japan, and has a total population of 41.5 million. It benefits from good infrastructure, the country’s best universities and financial institutions, and a large work force. It generates the highest regional GDP in the country.
Kanto encompasses the prefectures in the Greater Tokyo Area, which occupies the region’s south. The region contains two of Japan's biggest cities, Tokyo and Yokohama, and other major cities Kawasaki, Saitama and Chiba. Significant urban and suburban sprawls surround the bigger cities.
Historically, Kanto served as Japan's military seat while a significant amount of development was carried on in Osaka in the Kanzai region. The shift took place in 1868 when the Meiji Restoration initiated the Emperor's transfer to Tokyo. Since then, Tokyo has become the centre of culture, commerce and politics with the rest of Kanto supplementing Tokyo's rate of development.
Despite being heavily industrialized, Kanto has some natural wonders—mountains, hot springs, and semi-tropical islands. Forty percent of Kanto is also covered by the Kanto Plain, the largest plain in Japan.
The vast Tokyo Metropolis represents a significant bulk of Japan's development, which is constant and ever moving forward. From the Imperial Palace complex to the aged government buildings, to its architectural business centres and modern commercial towers, the Tokyo Metropolis is the centre of it all.
The highly populated metropolis is made up of the city of Tokyo, which sprawls on the eastern part of the prefecture. The area to the west consists of 26 cities. Tokyo City is further divided into 23 special wards; each ward functions as an independent municipality.
Given the size of the metropolis and its complex divisions, certain characteristics have distinctively defined each area. And yet, on a broader spectrum, they also tend to mirror each other. The notable districts are the City of Tokyo, also known as central Tokyo, and the surrounding areas which have become a mixture of both residential and commercial, each serving as the "bed towns" for those working in central Tokyo.
As one moves further outward, Tokyo Metropolis and the Greater Tokyo Area give way to a mixture of development, from industrial to suburban sprawls to towns, which are gradually nearing other major cities such as Yokohama and Kawasaki.