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English / USA Language: English / USA

The old Edo Castle is the enormous fortress that was the residence of the shogunate, who governed the city before the young Emperor Meiji moved here on May 9th, 1869 and made Tokyo the new capital of Japan. 

The emperor took up residence in the palace inside the fortress that was once lived in by the governor, but on May 5th, 1873, a fire ripped through the old castle destroying the imperial quarters which were built mostly in wood. Construction began immediately on a new building in reinforced concrete, which was completed in 1888, and was a magnificent blend of traditional Japanese and European architecture. No trace remains of this building either because on the night of May 25th 1945, most of the Imperial Palace was destroyed by bombing raids, and what remained was razed to the ground during a second raid on July 29th of the same year. Emperor Hirohito was thus forced to govern from an underground air-raid shelter near the old Library, which was also later destroyed.

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