Does it make sense to use 上京 in a fantasy setting where the geography is totally different from our world? In my mind this word is very strongly associated with Tokyo. I know that according to some dictionaries it can technically refer to moving to any capital city, but still I can't help but feel that it sounds slightly odd in other contexts. Did I get the wrong impression?

Here is a scene from ハクメイとミコチ that inspired this question.

  • 1
    In my opinion, you answered the question yourself: since 亰 can sometimes be used to refer to any capital city, then it makes sense that 上京 could refer to someplace other than Tokyo. But I have nothing to back that up.
    – istrasci
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 16:47
  • @istrasci Perhaps my question is less about whether that's "allowed" and more about how good it sounds...
    – kuchitsu
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 17:22
  • @kuchitsu If anything I think that it's inherently tied to Tokyo because Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the word is Japanese, so a Japanese person is likely to refer to the capital of Japan using this word. However, if the person were not Japanese, but was speaking Japanese, I'd think they'd refer to their own capital (i.e. if a British person used this word, I might think London rather than Tokyo)
    – psosuna
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 19:33
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    See this page (and try replacing 「ロンドン」 with names of other major capitals): search.yahoo.co.jp/… The only major country for which this does not work would be the U.S., of course.
    – user4032
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 5:46
  • @l'électeur Now I'm wondering something on that: Is it the fact that it doesn't work for the U.S. connected to the fact that the U.S.'s capital (that is, Washington, D.C.) not the singular seat of power, because states have their own capitals and so one would say that 上京 cannot refer to all of these places at once? Or does it have to do more with the fact that 上京 is referring to a "kingdom" or "empire" capital? (In which case, it works for Japan and England as they are such but not for a Republic like the U.S.)?
    – psosuna
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


In countries where there is a definite, singular seat of government, power, and influence, I cannot see why 上京 couldn't be used to mean 'going to the Capitol'.

When used to refer to events that took place before 1868, 上京 would mean going to the then-capitol of Kyoto. It is not so bound to Tokyo that it cannot be used to refer to another current capitol city, fictional or otherwise (Emerald City, Manila, etc).

As you likely know, this only refers to traveling from within said country to that country's capitol.

Examples of usage referring to places other than Tokyo:

https://togetter.com/li/331132 http://s.webry.info/sp/kalayaan.at.webry.info/200908/article_4.html https://ameblo.jp/grieketto08/entry-11090399498.html

As your story would supposedly take place in a setting which does not include Tokyo, there should be no conflict or confusion.

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