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IN 1603 Japan's central government moved from Kyoto to Edo (former name of Tokyo). Tokyo 2003 is marked with Marathons, Festivals, Parades, Concerts, Performances, Exhibitions, Tours, Cultural Workshops, and Symposia. New York, NY . . . March 23, 2003 . . . The year 2003 marks Tokyo City's 400th anniversary. In 1603, after defeating the Hideyori loyalists in the Battle of Seikigahara three years earlier, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, now the most powerful man in Japan, established his government in Edo -- 330 miles northeast of the imperial capital, Kyoto. Edo's beginnings in the small Chuo Ward -- 4 square miles (modern central Tokyo) have expanded out 844 square miles to become today's metropolis of more than 12 million residents. In honor of this momentous quatra-centennial, 23 Japanese organizations formed an "Edo 400th Anniversary Event Promotion Committee" ( index.jsp?PID=01). The committee has organized a variety of events to rediscover the proud history and culture of 400 years of Edo and Tokyo and to encourage the bright future of this world-class city. The opening event on March 29, 2003 is entitled "Sa-kura." This is pronounced the same as the Japanese word for cherry blossom "Sakura," and the event occurs right at the peak of cherry blossom season in central Honshu. However, in this case there is a double meaning. The Kanji spell out the word for open-air amphitheater or originally, a temple for the god of Rice Paddies. "Sa-kura" spectators will enjoy traditional, ethnic dancers from Russia, China, Korea, and Japan outdoors in Hibiya Park's Open Air Music Hall, from 6 p.m. For International Travelers, Japan Airlines has created a one-time-only Samurai tour ( e/ travelplan/ vacation_kawanaka.php) commemorating the fourth and most eventful of the five 16th Century Battles of Kawanakajima. Get a bird's eye view of the historic struggle between the Daimyos Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, including the legendary hand-to-hand combat duel ( ~wko/ battle_of_kawanakajima.html, akimoya/ files/ kawanakajima.html). The six-day tour, which starts at $1099, departs the United States on April 17. The price includes all ground transportation, tours, and four-nights accommodations with an overnight at a luxury Japanese ryokan at Isawa hot springs in Yamanashi Prefecture. For a list of commemorative events through 2004, please visit the link on JNTO's newly revised website 400thanniversary.html. Click here to see this press release in PDF format. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF files).

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