I'm serious. Well, I'm serious that there are people who believe this. Whether or not you
want to believe it is up to you.
In order to understand why, we have to go back in time for a moment... to the year 794. In Japanese history, this is known as the first year of the Heian era. That year, the Emperor signed an edict that Heijokyo, the city we now know as Nara, would cease to be capital of Japan, and that the capital would be transferred to Heiankyo, the city we now know as Kyoto.
Fast forward. Centuries pass. Kyoto remains the capital of Japan by the will of the Emperor, holed up in his imperial palace. Even though the laws are being made by daimyo and shoguns in Kamakura and Osaka and Edo, the Emperor hangs on to his capital, and his capital is considered to be the spiritual and cultural heart of the country.
Finally, we reach 1868. This is the year of the Meiji Restoration, when the samurai of the tozama domains to the west rise up against the bakufu in Edo. They cast away the old government and set to making a new one. Emperor Meiji signs a new edict, that from this day forward, Edo shall be known as Tokyo, the Eastern Capital.
The genro in Edo want the Emperor to move the capital to Tokyo. The Emperor says no. The Emperor says that he would rather stay in Kyoto, and travel to Tokyo whenever government business demands it. That November, he sets out for Edo Castle, now to be called Tokyo Castle. He stays for a few days and then goes home.
But this, of course, is pre-modern Japan. The Emperor can't travel by car or Shinkansen: he has to travel with a whole delegation, by foot and palanquin. The trip takes him two weeks. He realizes that this isn't going to work in the long term.
So he heads back to Tokyo the following March, and strikes a deal with the genro. He will stay in Tokyo Castle year-round so that they can conduct their affairs of government year-round. Tokyo becomes the capital of Japan.
De facto, of course. The Emperor never makes Tokyo the capital. The genro never think to designate Tokyo as the capital. Since the Emperor is the country's spiritual leader, and since he technically lives in both Tokyo and Kyoto, the two cities can both be thought of as capitals.
Fast forward again. 1945. Tokyo is in ruins. Hirohito surrenders his divinity to Douglas MacArthur. A group of lawmakers draft a new constitution, placing sovereignty in the name of the people through their elected Diet.
Yet Tokyo is still, legally speaking, not the capital of Japan. Despite all its foreign embassies, all its impressive government buildings, its mighty Imperial Palace, and its status as the world's largest metropolis, nobody ever made it the capital of Japan.
You might say, "Doesn't the government ever say in its laws that Tokyo is the capital?" Bzzzzzzt. It says things like this:
In this Act, the term 'capital area' shall denote a broad region comprising both the territory of Tokyo Metropolis as well as outlying regions designated by cabinet order.
- Capital Area Consolidation Act of 1956, article 2
"In this Act." They're too chicken to admit it.
You might say, "But doesn't that imply...?" It might imply it, but it doesn't say it.
And finally, you might say, "How can Kyoto be the capital of Japan when almost nobody in their right mind believes that it is?" Because some people are insane enough to actually take the law literally.