Tokyo Tento (transferring the capital) (東京奠都)

The Tokyo Tento is when Edo was designated as Tokyo during the Meiji Restoration. During this period, transfer of the capital was avoided, and this was referred to as Tento (established as the capital) or a system of multi-capitals.
Following the relocation of the government (Dajokan) to Tokyo, the Emperor's second visit to Tokyo was sometimes referred to as 'the actual relocation of the capital to Tokyo.'

Opportunity for capital relocation

During the end of the Edo period Kyoto was the center of government due to the return of political power to the emperor and restoration of monarchy (Japanese), but there were calls from within the new emperor's government for capital relocation. However, at this point the state of Edo was still not stable, and Osaka was recognized as being one of the main areas of concern.

Toshimichi OKUBO's plan to transfer the nation's capital to Osaka

Directly after the battle of Toba and Fushimi on February 10, 1868, Sanyo and Toshimichi OKUBO regarding the presidency and Imperial Prince Taruhito, Arisugawa-no-miya, advocated that the emperor make a pilgrimage to Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine, and then go to Osaka where he would continue to reside. Because of this the Imperial court decided to part with conventional ways and move ahead with diplomatic ties, while improving the navy and army. The Naniwa-sento (Transferring of the national capital to Osaka) petition was also submitted during the Daijokan council on January 23, of the same year. However, if the capital was to be moved, Kyoto, the capital of 1000 years would have to be abandoned, and the proposal met strong opposition from the noble the conservative nobles, eventually being repealed on January 26, of the same year. Okubo continued by going through the vice-president and Tomomi IWAKURA by making an easily acceptable proposal to the conservatives where the emperor would be punitively expedited to Osaka momentarily, and this proposal was settled on January 29, 1868.

Osaka Gyoko and the opening of Edo castle

Voices of opposition grew from the nobles, imperial court and citizens of Kyoto after the Osaka Gyoko worried that it would lead to a transfer of the capital. Consequently the initial plan to move the Daijokan at the same time was withdrawn. The emperor left Kyoto on April 13, 1868. The vice president, Sanetomi Sanjo and 1,655 others arrived at Tsumura-Betsuin, Hongan-ji Temple on March 23, 1868, and made it the Anzaisho (provisional palace for Gyoko). The emperor viewed the war vessels from Mt. Tenpo and after being in Osaka no less than 40 days went back home on April 8.

During this time an argument for transferring the capital to Edo was received from Hisaka MAEJIMA to Okubo who believed that more important than transferring the capital to Naniwa (Osaka), which was not in danger of decline, the capital should be transferred to Edo, one of the largest cities, because if it wasn't made the imperial capital the citizens would break up and Edo would crumble. During April 11 the same year, events like the opening of Edo castle, that went off without a hitch, grabbed attention from Osaka to Edo.

Draft from Oki and Eto for both Kyoto and Tokyo to be capitals.

On April 1, 1868, Takato OKI (Gunmukan Hanji (officer of Gunmukan Ministry)) and Shinpei ETO (army supervisor for Tosei-daitokufu) submitted a Kyoto and Tokyo petition to Iwakura as an Argument for the Saga clan. This was to fix Eastern Japan, where 1000 years of virtue did not reach, by making Tokyo Edo, and it was important to gather popular minds, which would eventually connect both capitals of Tokyo and Kyoto by rail. This idea was the same as the 'Osaka Gyoko' plan proposed by Okubo, and because the capital was not transferred it was a proposal that the conservatives could take in comparatively easily.

The concept of placing the imperial palace in Edo and making it Tokyo was a plan that appeared in the Keiseika (intellectuals) that Nobuhiro SATO wrote in 1823, during the last of the Edo period titled "The Secret Merger Plan," and it is said that Toshimichi OKUBO was influenced by this and advocated moving the capital to Tokyo.

Tokugawa clan's change of territory and the birth of Tokyo

In May 24, 1868, when it was decided that the Tokugawa clan would transfer 700,000 koku from Edo to Sunpu, the Oki and Eto draft for Kyoto and Tokyo to be the capital was decided upon, and on June 19 the government surveyed Sanyo, Takayoshi KIDO, and Oki about whether Edo was appropriate for the Imperial capital. Two of these men went to Kyoto on July 7 after discussions with Arisugawa no miya, Sanjo, Okubo, Eto and others, and reported that it was possible to transfer the capital. After this, an imperial edict that Edo be renamed Tokyo was issued on July 17. In the edict the emperor announced that the name of Edo was changed to Tokyo so that he could watch both east and west together as families and because Edo was the largest city and the most strategic spot in the east and that he would conduct government business from there. Although the transfer of the capital to Tokyo was not made entirely clear due to concerns about the conservatives and Kyoto citizens, Tokyo was born just as proposed.

The Emperor going east and the declaration

The emperor performed the enthronement ceremony on August 27, 1868, which was delayed because of strong political unrest, and left Kyoto for Tokyo on September 20. In the company of Iwakura, the Gitei Tadayasu NAKAYAMA, the governor of foreign affairs, Munenari DATE, and others, along with the army of the four clans of Choshu, Tosa, Bizen, and Ozu, a total of 3,300 people visited Tokyo. The emperor arrived at Edo castle on October 13, 1868 and that was then renamed Tokyo castle and recognized as the east imperial castle. Then on October 17, the emperor declared that he, himself, would decide the total government for the imperial country about to be unified, and east and west to be identified. The citizens of Tokyo actively celebrated the emperor coming east.

Conservative theory for the emperor to return home

After going to the east the emperor was to return to Kyoto, but Sanjo submitted a report to hold off an early visit to Kyoto due to the fact that a quick return would dishearten the people of Kanto. Sanjo compared the advantages and disadvantages from the dismay of the people of Kyoto and Osaka who had received the emperor's kind blessings for over a thousand years, and the animosity and despair that the people of Kanto who had received over the 300 years of favors from the Tokugawa clan, and said that the world would not be lost if Kyoto or Osaka was lost due to the geographically superior Tokyo because the destiny of the country and the rise and fall of Kyoto and Osaka fell upon the hearts of those in Kanto.

The day for the emperor to return home was delayed due to Sanjo's opinion, but Iwakura believed that it was necessary to hold the third anniversary of the late emperor Komei and a ceremony to define the empress, and the emperor left for Kyoto on December 8, arriving on December 22, 1868. So as not worry the citizens of Tokyo, it was announced that the emperor would return to Tokyo and the imperial palace would be built on the remains of the old castle keep.

Return to Tokyo

Before the second return of the emperor to Tokyo on January 25, 1869, Iwakura believed that there were many in the government including civilians who thought of the move as a capital transition without understanding the true intentions of the emperor, and from the agitation of those in Kyoto and Osaka, held out a proposition of an expostulation edict to let everyone know the reason why the emperor was returning again to set up a new government in Kanto where his influential virtue had not been delivered in the past. It was also taken into account that there were those inside the government praising the capital transition theory, but a transition that had no basis in the mind of the emperor, was not going to be approved by having retainers praise it.

With the decision to hold the Daijosai in the winter, the emperor returned the following March to Tokyo and on March 7, returned to Tokyo with Sanjo and others (2nd time going east.)
The emperor entered Tokyo castle on March 28, and renamed the castle the imperial palace so that he could live there. This time when the 'Emperor was located in Tokyo', the Daijokan was transferred to Tokyo, and Rusukan was established in Kyoto. The empress was also moved to Tokyo on October 24, 1869. From this point on, Tokyo was the base from where the emperor engaged in activities.

Every time the Emperor and empress left for Tokyo, there were calls in opposition and cancellations by the nobles, domain lords, government officials, and citizens in Kyoto, and the government issued a statement saying 'The emperor will be visiting all around, and there is nothing to worry about because Kyoto is the imperial palace of 1000 years which is still very important.' in the "Official Notice" that was released from the Kyoto government and was able to calm everyone's hearts. There were also plans made for the transfer of the capital to Nagoya during these situations when there was turmoil from the opposition against visiting Tokyo.

Transferring of the functions of the capital

The old imperial palace was left in Kyoto, and the branch offices and Kyoto Rusu, such as the Gyobu Ministry (military government administration), Ministry of Finance, and Hyobusho were all abandoned by 1871, and the administrative organizations of Japan vanished.H78
The Rusukan was moved from Kyoto Prefecture to the imperial court by May of 1870, where it was combined with the Imperial Household Ministry in December, then removed in August 23, 1871, and then all of the capital organizations were moved to Tokyo.

Extension of the emperor coming to Kyoto

On March 14, 1870, it was announced to the citizens of Kyoto that the emperor's return to Kyoto would be delayed citing the suppression of Tohoku which had not been taken over yet, bad harvest, and the lack of national funds. It was announced in March 1871 that the Daijosai would be held in Tokyo, which was held on November 17, 1871.

The center of government returned once again to the land of Tokyo which became Edo.


June 1872: When the emperor stopped in Kyoto he was viewed as that he was visiting Kyoto and not returning home.

May 1873: A fire occurs at the imperial palace in Tokyo. The detached Akasaka palace is made a temporary imperial palace.

February 1877: The emperor orders the preservation and maintenance of the old imperial palace in Kyoto.

1888: The Meiji palace is completed in Tokyo. From this point on it was known as Miyagi.

1889: It was ruled in the Imperial House Act that the 'Sokui no rei (enthronement ceremony)' and 'Daijosai' would be held in Kyoto.

1891: The name of the old imperial palace in Kyoto was renamed the Kyoto Kogu.

1909: The Saiden (rice fields for cultivating rice plants for deities) where the Daijosai is held, names were changed from east and south areas to Yuki and west and north areas to Suki in the Tokyoku-rei (former Imperial House Law) (Abolished in 1947)

1915: The Sokui no rei (enthronement ceremony) and Daijosai are held in Kyoto.

1928: The Sokui no rei (enthronement ceremony) and Daijosai are held in Kyoto.

1947: The Imperial Household Act plainly states that the Sokui no rei (enthronement ceremony) will be performed, and there is no provision for the Daijosai or place for it.

1948: The name Miyagi in Tokyo was abolished and was then called the imperial palace. The Kyoto Kogu is called the old imperial palace.

1990: The Sokui-no-rei (enthronement ceremony) and Daijosai are held in Tokyo.