Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Meiji Restoration

Narrowly defined, the coup de'tat of January 3, 1868 in which anti-shogunate forces, led by the southern domains of Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture) and Chōshū (now Yamaguchi Prefecture), seized the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and announced the reversion of political power from the Tokugawa Shogunate to the emperor. More broadly, the series of political, social, and economic changes in the latter part of the 19th century that resulted in dismemberment of the bakuhan system of shogunate and domains and Japan's rapid development into a unified modern state. The era name, "Meiji," was chosen to indicate that the young emperor Mutsuhito would institute "enlightened rule." Later the term "restoration" (ishin) came into use to signify a return to direct imperial rule after eight centuries of warrior control. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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