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The current cultural and former imperial capital of Kyoto lost its status to the more favorably positioned city of Edo, now Tokyo. Located centrally on the island of Honshu, Kyoto lacked the easy access to the sea, and thereby other coastal enclaves, that Tokyo allowed the emperor and his government. The city suffered a major blow in 1864, when local forces loyal to the emperor rebelled against the Edo-based Shokugawa clan. With the exit of the emperor in 1868, the economy took another downward turn and the city’s development lagged into the 20th century. This allowed the city to be largely spared during World War II; Kyoto still boasts a significant number of pre-War architecture, especially since the U.S. military ultimate decided on choosing Nagasaki over Kyoto as the target of its nuclear bomb.

 

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