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Capital of Japan

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Title: Capital of Japan  
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Subject: Tokyo, Nagaoka-kyō, Heian-kyō, Kyoto, Japan
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Capital of Japan

This article is about the Japanese national capital in general. For the current capital, see Tokyo.

The capital of Japan is Tokyo.[1] In the course of history, the national capital has been in many locations other than Tokyo.


  • History 1
    • Law and custom 1.1
  • List of capitals 2
    • Legendary 2.1
    • Historical 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Traditionally, the home of the Emperor was considered the capital. From 794 through 1868, the Emperor lived in Kyoto.[2] After 1868, the seat of the Government of Japan and the location of the Emperor's home was Tokyo.[1]

In 1941, the Ministry of Education published the "designation of Tokyo as capital" (東京奠都 Tōkyō-tento).[3]

After World War II, the new Constitution of Japan transferred the state's sovereignty from the Emperor to the people. The people of Japan are represented by the Diet of Japan in Tokyo. Consensus considers the site of the Diet is the capital of Japan.

Law and custom

While no laws have designated Tokyo as the Japanese capital, many laws have defined a "capital area" (首都圏 shuto-ken) that incorporates Tokyo. Article 2 of the Capital Area Consolidation Law (首都圏整備法) of 1956 states that "In this Act, the term 'capital area' shall denote a broad region comprising both the territory of Tokyo Metropolis as well as outlying regions designated by cabinet order." This clearly implies that the government has designated Tokyo as the capital of Japan, although (again) it is not explicitly stated, and the definition of the "capital area" is purposely restricted to the terms of that specific law.[4]

Other laws referring to this "capital area" include the Capital Expressway Public Corporation Law (首都高速道路公団法) and the Capital Area Greenbelt Preservation Law (首都圏近郊緑地保全法).[5]

This term for capital was never used to refer to Kyoto. Indeed, shuto came into use during the 1860s as a gloss of the English term "capital".

The Ministry of Education published a book called "History of the Restoration"in 1941. This book referred to the "designation of Tokyo as capital" (東京奠都 Tōkyō-tento) without talking about "moving the capital to Tokyo" (東京遷都 Tōkyō-sento). A contemporary history textbook states that the Meiji government "moved the capital (shuto) from Kyoto to Tokyo" without using the sento term.[6]

Recently, there has been a movement to transfer the capital from Tokyo, with the Gifu-Aichi region, the Mie-Kio region and other regions submitting bids for it. Officially, the relocation is referred to as "capital functions relocation" instead of "capital relocation", or as "relocation of the [7][8]

List of capitals


This list of legendary capitals of Japan begins with the reign of Emperor Jimmu. The names of the Imperial palaces are in parentheses.

  1. Kashiwabara, Yamato at the foot of Mt. Unebi during reign of Emperor Jimmu[9]
  2. Kazuraki, Yamato during reign of Emperor Suizei[10]
  3. Katashiha, Kawachi during the reign of Emperor Annei[10]
  4. Karu, Yamato during reign of Emperor Itoku.[11]
  5. Waki-no-kami, Yamato during the reign of Emperor Kosho[12]
  6. Muro, Yamato during reign of Emperor Koan[12]
  7. Kuruda, Yamato during the reign of Emperor Korei[12]
  8. Karu, Yamato during reign of Emperor Kōgen[12]
  9. Izakaha, Yamato during reign of Emperor Kaika[12]
  10. Shika, Yamato (Palace of Mizugaki) during reign of Emperor Sujin[13]
  11. Shika, Yamato (Palace of Tamagaki) during reign of Emperor Suinin[14]
  12. Makimuko, Yamato (Palace of Hishiro) during reign of Emperor Keiko[15]
  13. Shiga, Ōmi (Palace of Takaanaho) during reign of Emperor Seimu[16]
  14. Ando, Nara (Palace of Toyoura) and Kashiki on the island of Kyushu during reign of Emperor Chūai[16]


This list of capitals includes the Imperial palaces names in parentheses.

Kofun period
Traditional site of Kusuba-no-Miya Palace in Osaka Prefecture
Asuka period
  • Asuka, Yamato (Shikishima no Kanasashi Palace), 540–571[22] in reign of Emperor Kimmei[28]
  • Kōryō, Nara (Kudara no Ohi Palace), 572–575
  • Sakurai, Nara (Osata no Sakitama Palace or Osada no Miya), 572–585[29] in reign of Emperor Bidatsu[30]
  • Shiki District, Nara (Iwareikebe no Namitsuki Palace), 585–587[31] in the reign of Emperor Yomei[32]
  • Shiki District, Nara (Kurahashi no Shibagaki Palace), 587–592[22] in the reign of Emperor Sushun[32]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Toyura Palace or Toyura-no-miya), 593–603[33] in the reign of Empress Suiko[34]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Oharida Palace or Oharida-no-miya), 603–629[33] in the reign of Suiko[34]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Okamoto Palace or Oakmoto-no-miya), 630–636[33] in the reign of Emperor Jomei[35]
  • Kashihara, Nara (Tanaka Palace or Tanaka-no-miya), 636–639[33]
  • Kōryō, Nara (Umayasaka Palace or Umayasaka-no-miya, 640[33]
  • Kōryō, Nara (Kudara Palace or Kudara-no-miya), 640–642[33]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Oharida Palace), 642–643
  • Asuka, Yamato (Itabuki Palace or Itabuki no miya), 643–645[33] in the reign of Empress Kōgyoku[35]
  • Osaka (Naniwa-Nagara no Toyosaki Palace), 645–654[36] in the reign of Emperor Kōtoku[37]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Itabuki Palace), 655–655[33] in the reign of Kōtoku[37]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Kawahara Palace or Kawahara-no-miya), 655–655[33]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Okamoto Palace or Nochi no Asuka-Okamoto-no-miya), 656–660[33] in the reign of Emperor Saimei[38]
  • Asakura, Fukuoka (Asakura no Tachibana no Hironiwa Palace or Asakure no Tachibana no Hironiwa-no-miya), 660–661[33]
  • Osaka, (Naniwa-Nagara no Toyosaki Palace), 661–667[36]
  • Ōtsu, Shiga (Ōmi Ōtsu Palace or Ōmi Ōtsu-no-miya), 667–672[39] in reign of Emperor Tenji[38] and the reign of Emperor Kobun[40]
  • Asuka, Yamato (Kiyomihara Palace or Kiomihara-no-miya), 672–694[33] in the reign of Emperor Temmu[41] and in the reign of Empress Jito[42]
  • Fujiwara-kyō (Fujiwara Palace), 694–710[43] in the reign of Emperor Mommu[42]
Nara period
Heian period

See also


Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
  1. ^ a b c Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Tokyo," Japan Encyclopedia, pp. 981-982.
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Kyōto" at pp. 585-587.
  3. ^ 国会等の移転ホームページ – 国土交通省. Retrieved on 2011-04-29.
  4. ^ 首都圏整備法. Retrieved on 2011-04-29.
  5. ^ 首都圏近郊緑地保全法. Retrieved on 2011-04-29.
  6. ^ 国会等の移転ホームページ – 国土交通省. Retrieved on 2011-04-29.
  7. ^ "Shift of Capital from Tokyo Committee". Japan Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  8. ^ "Policy Speech by Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara at the First Regular Session of the Metropolitan Assembly, 2003". Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  9. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1915). The Imperial Family of Japan, p. 1.
  10. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 2.
  11. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, pp. 2-3.
  12. ^ a b c d e Ponsonby-Fane, p. 3.
  13. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 4.
  14. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 5.
  15. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 6.
  16. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 7.
  17. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 8.
  18. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 9.
  19. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 10.
  20. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 11.
  21. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 12.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Koch, W. (1904). p. 13Japan; Geschichte nach japanischen Quellen und ethnographische Skizzen. Mit einem Stammbaum des Kaisers von Japan,.
  23. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 13.
  24. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 14; excerpt, "Mikaguri Palace"
  25. ^ Nussbaum, "Asuka" at p. 59.
  26. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 15.
  27. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 16.
  28. ^ a b c Ponsonby-Fane, p. 17; except, "Palace of Kanahashi at Magari, Yamato"
  29. ^ Brown, Delmer. (1979). pp. 262-263Gukanshō,; excerpt, "... palace was Osada no Miya of Iware in the province of Yamato."
  30. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 18.
  31. ^ Brown, p. 263; excerpt, "... palace was Namitsuki no Miya at Ikebe in the province of Yamato."
  32. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 19.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Asuka Historical Museum, Palaces of the Asuka Period," 1995; retrieved 2011-11-25.
  34. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 20.
  35. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 21.
  36. ^ a b c d なにわ活性化プロジェクト (Naniwa Revialization Project), August 24, 201; retrieved 2011-11-24.
  37. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 23.
  38. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 24.
  39. ^ Nussbaum, "Ōtsu mo Miya" at p. 216.
  40. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 25.
  41. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 26.
  42. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 27.
  43. ^ Nussbaum, "Fujiwara" at pp. 200-201.
  44. ^ a b Nussbaum, "Heijō-kyō" at p. 304.
  45. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 28.
  46. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 29.
  47. ^ Nussbaum, "Kuni-kyō" at p. 574.
  48. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 30.
  49. ^ Nussbaum, "Nagaoka-kyō" at p. 216-217.
  50. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, p. 34.
  51. ^ a b Nussbaum, "Heian-kyō" at pp. 303-304.
  52. ^ Nussbaum, "Fukuhara" at pp. 216.
  53. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 37.

Further reading

  • Fiévé, Nicolas and Paul Waley. (2003). Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective: Place, Power and Memory in Kyoto, Edo and Tokyo. New York: Psychology Press. 10-ISBN 070071409X/13-ISBN 9780700714094

External links

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