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Gokishichidō (五畿七道, "five provinces and seven circuits") was the name for ancient administrative units organized in Japan during the Asuka period (AD 538–710), as part of a legal and governmental system borrowed from the Chinese.[1] Though these units did not survive as administrative structures beyond the Muromachi period (1336–1573), they did remain important geographical entities until the 19th century.[2] The Gokishichidō consisted of five provinces in the Kinai (畿内) or capital region, plus seven () or circuits, each of which contained provinces of its own.

When Hokkaido was included as a circuit after the defeat of the Republic of Ezo in 1869, the system was briefly called Gokihachidō (五畿八道, "five provinces and eight circuits"). The abolition of the han system abolished the -han (early modern feudal domains) in 1871, -dō/circuits and provinces were per se not abolished by the abolition of domains; but the prefectures that sprang from the domains became the primary administrative division of the country and were soon merged and reorganized to territorially resemble provinces in many places. "Hokkai circuit" (Hokkai-dō) was the only -dō that would survive as administrative division, but it was later increasingly treated as "Hokkai prefecture" (Hokkai-dō); finally after WWII, the -dō was fully regarded as a prefecture: from 1946, the prefectures (until then only -fu/-ken) were legally referred to as -dō/-fu/-ken, from 1947 as -to/-dō/-fu/-ken.

Five Provinces

The five Kinai provinces were local areas in and around the imperial capital (first Heijō-kyō at Nara, then Heian-kyō at Kyōto). They were:

Seven Circuits

The seven or circuits were administrative areas stretching away from the Kinai region in different directions. Running through each of the seven areas was an actual road of the same name, connecting the imperial capital with all of the provincial capitals along its route. The seven were: