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Does Japan have 2 capitals?


In this article, we will explore the question of whether Japan has two capitals. Japan is a country that is rich in culture and history, and it is known for its unique traditions, advanced technology, and stunning landscapes. However, when it comes to its capital city, there seems to be some confusion. While many people believe that Tokyo is the only capital of Japan, there are some who argue that there is a second capital as well. In this article, we will delve deeper into this topic and provide a comprehensive answer to the question of whether Japan has two capitals.

The History of Japanese Capitals

To understand the debate surrounding Japan’s capital, we need to take a look at the country’s history. Japan has had several different capital cities throughout its long history. The first official capital was Nara, which served as the seat of government from 710 to 794. After that, Kyoto became the capital and remained so until 1868 when the Meiji Restoration occurred. During this time, Tokyo became the new capital city and has remained so ever since.

Japanese Snack Box

Is Tokyo the Only Capital?

Now that we have established Japan’s historical capitals let’s turn our attention back to the present-day debate about whether Japan has two capitals. The short answer is no; Tokyo is the only recognized capital city of Japan. However, there are some who argue that Kyoto should also be considered a capital city due to its historical significance and cultural importance.

The Argument for Kyoto as a Second Capital

Those who argue that Kyoto should be recognized as a second capital point to several reasons for their belief. Firstly, Kyoto was Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years and served as the center of Japanese culture and society during that time. It is home to many important historical sites and cultural treasures such as temples, shrines, and traditional gardens. Secondly, Kyoto is still an important city in modern-day Japan and serves as the seat of many important institutions such as the Supreme Court and the Imperial Household Agency.

The Counterargument against Kyoto as a Second Capital

Despite these arguments, there are several reasons why Kyoto is not recognized as a second capital city. Firstly, Japan’s constitution only recognizes Tokyo as the capital city, and there has been no official designation of Kyoto as a second capital. Secondly, while Kyoto is undoubtedly an important city in Japan, it does not have the same political or economic power as Tokyo, which is the center of Japan’s government and business sectors.

The Role of Kyoto in Japanese Politics

While Kyoto may not be recognized as a second capital, it still plays an important role in Japanese politics. Many politicians have ties to Kyoto, and it is often used as a location for important political events such as meetings between heads of state. Additionally, some argue that Kyoto’s cultural significance gives it a unique role in representing Japan on the world stage.

Japan’s Political System

To better understand why Japan only has one recognized capital, we need to take a closer look at its political system. Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. The emperor serves as a symbol of unity for the country, while the prime minister holds most of the political power. Tokyo is where the national government is located, including both the National Diet (parliament) and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Importance of Tokyo

Tokyo is not only Japan’s political center but also its economic hub. It is home to many of Japan’s largest corporations and financial institutions, making it one of the most important cities in Asia. Additionally, Tokyo is known for its vibrant culture and entertainment scene, attracting tourists from all over the world.

The Future of Japan’s Capitals

While it is unlikely that Kyoto will be recognized as a second capital anytime soon, there is still debate about the role it should play in Japanese society. Some argue that Kyoto should focus on preserving its cultural heritage and promoting tourism, while others believe it should take a more active role in politics and governance. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that both Tokyo and Kyoto will continue to play important roles in shaping Japan’s future.


In conclusion, while there is debate about whether Japan has two capitals, the answer is ultimately no. Tokyo is the only recognized capital city of Japan, although Kyoto’s historical significance and cultural importance cannot be denied. Understanding this debate is important for anyone interested in Japanese culture and society, as it sheds light on the country’s complex history and political system. Ultimately, whether or not Kyoto becomes a second capital, its unique character and rich heritage will continue to make it an essential part of Japan’s identity.

Why does Japan have two capitals?

In the past, the capital city of Japan was the residence of the Emperor. From 794 to 1868, the Emperor lived in Heian-kyō, also known as modern-day Kyoto. However, after 1868, the seat of the Japanese government and the Emperor’s home were relocated to Edo, which was later renamed Tokyo.

Does Japan have two capital cities?

Kyoto is known as Saikyo (which means “Western Capital”) because it was once the capital of Japan. Technically, Japan still has two capitals: Kyoto and Tokyo.

What is the real capital of Japan?

The Emperor relocated to Edo, which was later renamed Tokyo, resulting in Tokyo becoming the new capital city of Japan.

Should I go to Kyoto or Tokyo?

Tokyo is the perfect destination for those who love bustling cities, advanced technology, a vibrant nightlife, and a wide range of dining options. On the other hand, Kyoto is the ideal place for those who are interested in exploring temples, shrines, gardens, geisha culture, and hiking. If you have more than four days to spend in Japan, it is recommended to visit both cities.

Why Tokyo is not capital of Japan?

To sum up, Tokyo is not officially the capital of Japan according to Japanese law and constitution. However, Tokyo is the largest city in Japan and is home to important government institutions such as the Diet, Supreme Court, and Imperial Palace.

Why was Kyoto renamed to Tokyo?

During the Meiji Restoration, the ruling class decided to make Edo the capital of their new nation instead of Kyoto, which was known for its adherence to traditional customs and practices. They renamed Edo as Tokyo to signify this change.

It is important to note that while Kyoto is not a capital city, it is still recognized as one of Japan’s most important cultural centers. The city is home to many traditional crafts such as pottery, textiles, and lacquerware, which are highly valued for their beauty and craftsmanship. Additionally, Kyoto’s cuisine is renowned throughout Japan and the world, with many local specialties such as kaiseki (a multi-course meal) and matcha (powdered green tea).

Despite its historical significance and cultural importance, Kyoto faces many challenges in the modern era. Like many cities in Japan, it is dealing with an aging population and a declining birth rate, which has led to a shrinking workforce and a shortage of young people. Additionally, the city is grappling with issues such as urbanization, pollution, and traffic congestion, which threaten to undermine its unique character and charm.

Despite these challenges, Kyoto remains a vibrant and dynamic city that continues to attract visitors from around the world. Its rich cultural heritage and unique blend of tradition and modernity make it a fascinating destination for anyone interested in Japanese culture and society. Whether you are interested in exploring ancient temples and shrines or sampling some of the city’s delicious cuisine, Kyoto is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.

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