Try and imagine everything centred in Toronto…I mean, e-very-thing. The population of Toronto double, triples in size and Toronto is now much, much, much larger than any city in Canada. Everything the federal government does in Ottawa is suddenly moved to Toronto and Toronto suddenly becomes the capital of Canada. Toronto becomes the centre of business in Canada with every major business relocating to Toronto; in fact, Toronto becomes the centre of everything in Canada.
Well, this is what Tokyo is to Japan. Tokyo is the largest city, the capital city and the centre of business in Japan. The population of Tokyo is, what, around 13 million (no one has an exact figure, it seems) with the outlying metropolitan area exceeding 35 million. With the population of Japan around 126 million, this means between 1/4 and 1/3 of the population of Japan lives in or near Tokyo. With such a huge proportion of the population living in this area, you would think that Tokyo is Japan or, anything associated with Japan probably resides in or near Tokyo.
This is a mistake. While it can be argued that Tokyo has a huge presence in Japan (and in the world for that fact), it is not the centre of Japan and spending your time in or near Tokyo and thinking that this is Japan is a mistake. In terms of history and culture and sightseeing, Tokyo is just one part of the Japanese picture. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tokyo and it is a wonderful place to visit and explore. However, if you want to discover Japan you have to get out of Tokyo and see what lies beyond.