On August 20, 1864, a pitched battle took place in central Kyoto just outside the Imperial Palace. Participants were armed with swords and rifles.
The battle, which occurred at the Hamaguri Gate on the west side of the Palace, was fought between pro-imperial and anti-alien (foreigner) groups.
The rebels who attacked the Palace fought under the slogan Sonno Joi - "Order to Expel the Barbarians" - that had been promulgated by the Emperor in March 1863.
The rebels wished to wrest control from the Emperor himself to accomplish the restoration of the Imperial throne.
Forces from Choshu attacked the Palace, which was defended by the Aizu and Kuwana Domains, near the Hamaguri Gate, one of the Nine Forbidden Gates.
More than 100 Choshu soldiers died in a losing effort. Before fleeing, though, Choshu forces set fire to the city. The resulting conflagration burned most of Kyoto south of the Imperial Palace. As a result, in a great swath of Kyoto, there are almost no buildings that were built prior to 1864.
Following this, the military government - the Shogunate - went south to retaliate and routed the Choshu.
To this day, the bullet holes remain in the gate, which faces Karasuma Dori, north of Marutamachi.
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese