Special Wards of Tokyo
Introduction to Special Wards of Tokyo
Tokyo has 23 municipalities that together form the center part of Tokyo. In Japanese these wards are called with term "tokubetsuku" and generally they are called "nijuusanku", simply 23 wards.
Why they are so special? Because they are self-governing. This kind of arrangement takes place only in Tokyo in Japan. Basically public services such as water supply, sewage and fire services are offered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, but everything else, including healthcare are maintained by wards.
These wards are called with postfix "-ku". For example, "Shinjuku-ku" or "Minato-ku". Naturally, these names are visible in postal addresses.
Since 1970s, these wards of Tokyo have exercised a considerably higher degree of autonomy than the wards in other cities, making them more like independent cities than districts. Some in fact call them a cities instead of wards. Some cities wanted to gain more autonomy and started to take care of their own garbage collection.
Especially proud city in this sense would be maybe the Shinagawa-ku, which states in their English website that they are in fact a city.
The list of 23 Wards in Tokyo