The Tokugawa shogunate, which had been in power in Japan for two hundred and sixty-fi ve years, came to an end in 1867 when political control was transferred to new rulers acting in the name of the young Emperor Meiji. Known as the Meiji Restoration, this marks Japan’s birth as a modern nation. In 1868 the Emperor made an offi cial journey from the imperial capital, Kyoto, to Edo, the city 500 kilometres to the east that had been the seat of the Tokugawa shogunate.1