When did ‘Tokyo’ finally replace ‘Tokio’ as the spelling of the Japanese city (at least in English)?

That I can tell, “Tokyo” with a ‘y’ has been the proper Romanization since 1867. The only point of contention is whether it should have bars over the o’s, doubled o’s, or or u’s after them.

A quick Google Imaging is only bringing up maps from the late 19th century. And noting that the city was named Edo up until 1868, Tokio would appear to be a very short-term seat-of-the-pants usage that got in because new maps needed to be made and the standard hadn’t spread yet.

So essentially outside of some maps that were published between 1868-~1880(?) that were wrong, it’s always been Tokyo.

It might be worth noting that Tokyo in Dutch is written “Tokio” and that there were originally more Japanese who spoke Dutch than English.

Ironic, then, that Google ads are coming up for “Japanischkurse in Tokio” and “Hostel, Herberge in Tokio”.

And whence Tokio Fire & Marine?

I haven’t seen it written as TOKIO in English in any official signage in recent years. However, TOKIO is the name of a Japanese boy band .

In watching Ken Burns’ The War last week, one of the WWII-era U.S. newspapers spelled it as “TOKIO” in one of the headlines shown in the presentation.

It was also spelt that way in an advertisement back then.

There’s a Tokyo-based department-store chain called Tokyu. I’ve always wondered about that spelling. There’s one or two here and even one in Hawaii, or used to be. Is Tokyu a Japanese word???

Tokyu is a portmanteau for the complete company name Tokyo Kyuko Dentetsu (Tokyo Express Railway). Simply take the first kanji character in Tokyo 東京 and the first kanji in Kyuko 急行 to make Tokyu 東急. The department stores are part of the same group of companies under the “Tokyu Group.”

And of course, there’s a Wikipedia article. :smack:

But thanks for the info. The article calls Tokyu an “upscale department store.” That’s not so true in Bangkok anymore. I remember when it was considered upscale, but it’s since been eclipsed by five-star department stores like Siam Paragon and The Emporium. Tokyu is firmly middle class now. A nice place, though.

A relevant point:

“Kio” (though I don’t think this is a real Japanese word nor do I think it appears in any Japanese word) would, on standard romanizations, be interpreted as two syllables. ki + o.

“Kyo” (which is part of a lot of Japanese words) is to be interpreted as a single syllable. kyo.

Here are all the Japanese syllables that start with K:


I suspect the ky in “kyu” means in fact, whatchamacallit, “palatalized k?” Som’n’ like 'at.


(“Ryu” from the old Street Fighter games is not “Rai-you,” but rather, a single syllable, “Ru” with the “r” kind of “flattened out.”)

Asking my better half here, she agrees with you. According to her, Tokyu Department Stores aren’t necessarily considered “upscale” anymore such as Mitsukoshi or Matsuzakaya.

Now that you mention it, I do hear people pronouncing it ‘toh-kee-oh’ from time to time.

I’d always had the impression that that it was spelled ‘Tokio’ before WWII, and as the war raged and people heard it more it began to be spelled ‘Tokyo’ to reflect the proper pronunciation. But then I saw the 1945 newspaper in the documentary and wondered when it finally did change.

I did a search using my Newspaperarchive database. They recently did a search engine/database “upgrade,” and the results we get now are rather wonky. But, the relative number of hits are still statistically significant. (Remember, this databases is mainly composed of small-medium US newspapers, with a very small smattering of Canadian-British-major US)
term -----------Tokio— Tokyo
1880-1900— 11,500 — 676
1901-1920— 70,063 — 5,519
1921-1930— 58,450 — 197,561**
1931-1940— 41,785 — 119,810
1941-1950— 28,349 — 315,170
1951-1970— 13,129 — 462,547

You can draw your own conclusions about when it “finally” changed, but it sure didn’t change wholesale before the 1920’s or so.

Now, I’m sure if you did a similar search on scholarly publications, you’d find it changed much earlier. Just a WAG.

*sorry about the result of my trying to make a nice chart. But I think you can figure it out.

**Having done a search of the NY Times database a bit later, I tend to doubt this figure. Weird database.

Scroll down to see the results of the NYTimes search.

Hm. I wonder how the numbers are distributed in the 1951-1970 row? 1951, being soon after the war, wouldn’t surprise me by having a large number of ‘Tokio’ spellings. But by 1970 I’d expect that spelling to be rare.

Apropos of nothing, when I was three and four years old I thought it was great fun to say ‘Tokyo Tower!’ (We went there at least once, and I was fascinated by it.)

Here’s a more useful(and probably more accurate) result from searching the Historical NY Times. Their optical character reader is far better than the one at N’archive.

--------------------Tokio --------Tokyo
1850-1899-------- 1718--------41
1900-1910-------- 4169---------67
1911-1920-------- 2783--------107
1921-1930-------- 8708--------439
1931-1940-------- 1484--------18,188
[/ul] So, somewhere in the 1930’s, the “best” newspaper in the US got the word.