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When a young Emperor Meiji moved to Edo from Kyoto in 1868, many of Kyoto’s noble families were strongly opposed to his leaving what had been Japan’s capital and home to the Imperial family since 794.

Those who traced their aristocratic lineage back to ancient times convinced themselves the Emperor was merely “visiting” Edo, and would one day return to his true home. The Emperor himself reportedly said he would return to Kyoto someday. But his departure also drained Kyoto of wealthy merchants, skilled craftsmen and artists, and intellectuals, all of whom followed him to Edo, now present-day Tokyo.

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