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 ( ) is a city in the central part of the island of Honshūmarker, Japanmarker. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecturemarker, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.


Although archaeological evidence places the first human settlement on the islands of Japan to approximately 10,000 BC, relatively little is known about human activity in the area before the 6th century AD. During the 8th century, when the powerful Buddhist clergy became involved in the affairs of the Imperial government, the Emperor chose to relocate the capital to a region far from the Buddhist influence. Emperor Kammu selected the village of Uda, at the time in the Kadono district of Yamashiro Province, for this honor.

The new city, Heian-kyōmarker (平安京 "tranquility and peace capital"), became the seat of Japan's imperial court in 794, beginning the Heian period of Japanese history, named after Chinese word for capital city, jingdu (京都). In Japanese, the city has been called Kyo (京), Miyako (都) or Kyo no Miyako (京の都). In the 11th century, the city was renamed Kyoto ("capital city"). Kyoto remained Japan's capital until the transfer of the government to Edo in 1868 at the time of the Imperial Restoration. (Some believe that it is still a legal capital: see Capital of Japan.) After Edo was renamed Tokyomarker (meaning "Eastern Capital"), Kyoto was known for a short time as Saikyo (西京 Saikyō, meaning "Western Capital").

An obsolete spelling for the city's name is Kioto; it was formerly known to the West as Meaco or Miako ( ; miyako, meaning "the seat of Imperial palace" or "capital".). Another term commonly used to refer to the city in the pre-modern period was Keishi (京師), meaning "metropolis" or "capital".

The city suffered extensive destruction in the Ōnin War of 1467-1477, and did not really recover until the mid-16th century. Battles between samurai factions spilled into the streets, and came to involve the court nobility (kuge) and religious factions as well. Nobles' mansions were transformed into fortresses, deep trenches dug throughout the city for defense and as firebreaks, and numerous buildings burned. The city has not seen such widespread destruction since.

There was some consideration by the United Statesmarker of targeting Kyoto with an atomic bomb at the end of World War II because, as an intellectual center of Japan, it had a population "better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon." In the end it was decided to remove the city from the list of targets due to the insistence of Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. The city was largely spared from conventional bombing as well, although small-scale air raids did result in casualties.

As a result, Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities that still has an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional townhouses known as machiya. However, modernization is continually breaking down the traditional Kyoto in favor of newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Stationmarker complex.

Kyoto became a city designated by government ordinance on September 1, 1956. In 1997, Kyoto hosted the conference that resulted in the protocol on greenhouse gas emissions that bears the city's name.

Kyoto since shortly after its founding was historically the largest city in Japan, after which it was surpassed by Osaka and Edo towards the end of the 16th century. In the prewar years, Kyoto traded places with Kobe and Nagoya ranking as the 4th and 5th largest city. In 1947, it went back to being 3rd, but has fallen ever since. By 1960 it had fallen to 5th again, and by 1990 it had fallen to 7th. If current trends continue it could fall to 9th after Fukuoka and Kawasaki.


Autumn in Kyoto attracts throngs of tourists to temples like this.

Kyoto is located in a valley, part of the Yamashiro (or Kyoto) Basin, in the eastern part of the mountainous region known as the Tamba highlands. The Yamashiro Basin is surrounded on three sides by mountains known as Higashiyama, Kitayama and Nishiyama, with a height just above 1000 meters above sea level. This interior positioning results in hot summers and cold winters. There are three rivers in the basin, the Ujigawamarker to the south, the Katsuragawamarker to the west, and the Kamogawamarker to the east. Kyoto City takes up 1.9% of the land in the prefecture with an area of 827.9 km²

The original city was arranged in accordance with traditional Chinesemarker geomancy following the model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'anmarker (present-day Xi'anmarker). The Imperial Palacemarker faced south, resulting in Ukyō (the right sector of the capital) being on the west while Sakyō (the left sector) is on the east. The streets in the modern-day wards of Nakagyōmarker, Shimogyōmarker, and Kamigyōmarker still follow a grid pattern.

Today, the main business district is located to the south of the old Imperial Palacemarker, with the less-populated northern area retaining a far greener feel. Surrounding areas do not follow the same grid pattern as the center of the city, though streets throughout Kyoto share the distinction of having names.

Kyoto sits atop a large natural water table that provides the city with ample freshwater wells. Due to large scale urbanization, the amount of rain draining into the table is dwindling and wells across the area are drying at an increasing rate.

Politics and government

Kyoto sunset panorama
The directly elected executive mayor in Kyoto as of 2008 is Daisaku Kadokawa, an independent supported by the Liberal Democratic Party, Democratic Party of Japan, New Komeito Party and Social Democratic Party. The legislative city assembly has 69 elected members.

Kyoto City Assembly

Political Party Number of Seats
Liberal Democratic Party 22
Japanese Communist Party 20
Democratic Party of Japan 14
New Komeito Party 12
vacant 1



Wards of Kyoto
Izumo no Okuni by Kamo River.

Kyoto has eleven wards. They are (colors from the map above)

Together, they comprise the city of Kyoto. Like other cities in Japan, Kyoto has a single mayor and a city council.


Although ravaged by wars, fires, and earthquakes during its eleven centuries as the imperial capital, Kyoto was spared from the firebombing of World War II. With its 2000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and architecture intact, it is one of the best preserved cities in Japan. Among the most famous temples in Japan are Kiyomizu-deramarker, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars off the slope of a mountain; Kinkaku-jimarker, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ginkaku-jimarker, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion; and Ryōan-jimarker, famous for its rock garden. The Heian Jingūmarker is a Shinto shrine, built in 1895, celebrating the Imperial family and commemorating the first and last emperors to reside in Kyoto. Three special sites have connections to the imperial family: the Kyoto Gyoen area including the Kyoto Imperial Palacemarker and Sento Imperial Palace, homes of the Emperors of Japan for many centuries; Katsura Imperial Villa, one of the nation's finest architectural treasures; and Shugaku-in Imperial Villamarker, one of its best Japanese gardens.

Other notable sites in Kyoto include Arashiyamamarker and its picturesque lake, the Gionmarker and Pontochōmarker geisha quarters, the Philosopher's Walkmarker, and the canals which line some of the older streets.

The "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" are listed by the UNESCOmarker as a World Heritage Site. These include the Kamo Shrinesmarker (Kami and Shimo), Kyō-ō-Gokokujimarker (Tō-ji), Kiyomizu-deramarker, Daigo-jimarker, Ninna-jimarker, Saihō-jimarker (Kokedera), Tenryū-jimarker, Rokuon-jimarker (Kinkaku-ji), Jishō-jimarker (Ginkaku-ji), Ryōan-jimarker, Hongan-jimarker, Kōzan-jimarker and the Nijo Castlemarker, primarily built by the Tokugawa shoguns. Other sites outside the city are also on the list.

Kyoto is renowned for its abundance of delicious Japanese foods and cuisine. The special circumstances of Kyoto as a city away from the sea and home to many Buddhist temples resulted in the development of a variety of vegetables peculiar to the Kyoto area (kyōyasai 京野菜).

Japan's television and film industry has its center in Kyoto. Many jidaigeki, action films featuring samurai, were shot at Toei Uzumasa Eigamura[6387]. A film set and theme park in one, Eigamura features replicas of traditional Japanese buildings which are used for jidaigeki. Among the sets are a replica of the old Nihonbashimarker (the bridge at the entry to Edo), a traditional courthouse, a Meiji Period police box and part of the former Yoshiwaramarker red-light district. Actual film shooting takes place occasionally, and visitors are welcome to observe the action.

Kyoto International Manga Museummarker is also situated in Kyoto. For an entrance fee visitors are able to view exhibitions and read as much manga as they desire. It is trying to acquire every manga ever published and so far houses approximately 200,000 titles.


View overlooking Kyoto
Key industy of Kyoto is IT and electronics : the city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo, Intelligent Systems, TOSE, OMRON, Kyocera, Shimadzu Corp., Rohm, Horiba, Nidec Corporation, Nichicon, GS Yuasa and Murata Machinery. And the headquarters of Murata Manufacturing are located in the suburbs of Kyoto Nagaokakyōmarker.

Tourism also forms a large base of Kyoto's economy. The city's cultural heritages are constantly visited by school groups from across Japan, and many foreign tourists also stop in Kyoto. In 2007, the city government announced that a record number of tourists had visited Kyoto for the sixth year in a row., and it was chosen as the second most attractive city in Japan, in a regional brand survey.

Traditional Japanese crafts is also major industry of Kyoto, most of which are run by artisans in small plants. Kyoto's kimono weavers are particularly renowned, and the city remains the premier center of kimono manufacturing. Such businesses, vibrant in past centuries, have declined in recent years as sales of traditional goods stagnate.

Sake brewing is Kyoto's traditionnal industry. Gekkeikan and Takara Holdings are major sake brewers headquartered in Kyoto.

Other businesses headquartered in Kyoto include the apparel company Wacoal, the delivery transportation company Sagawa Express and the garage kits maker Volks.

Colleges and universities

Campus Plaza Kyoto.
to 37 institutions of higher education, Kyoto is one of the academic centers of the country. Kyoto Universitymarker, one of Japan's national universities, is considered to be one of the top universities in Japan. According to The Times Higher Education Supplement top-ranking universitiy, Kyoto Universitymarker is ranked the second university in Japan and 25th in the world. The Kyoto Institute of Technology is also among the most famous universities in Japan and is considered to be one of the best universities for architecture and design in the country. Doshisha Universitymarker and Ritsumeikan Universitymarker are popular private universities in Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.

Kyoto also has a unique higher education network called the Consortium of Universities in Kyoto, which consists of three national, five public (prefectural and municipal), and 41 private universities, as well as the city and four other organizations. The consortium does not offer a degree, but offers the courses as part of a degree at participating universities.

As well as more than 30 Japanese universities and colleges, American universities find the city as an important place for education and research. Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS) is a consortium of 14 American universities that sponsors a rigorous, two-semester academic program for undergraduates who wish to do advanced work in Japanese language and cultural studies. In addition, Stanford Universitymarker has its own Japan Center in Kyoto.



Kyoto Stationmarker is the center for transportation in the city. The second-largest in Japan, it houses a shopping mall, hotel, movie theater, Isetan department store, and several local government facilities under one fifteen-story roof. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen Line (see below) as well as all conventional rail lines operated by JR West connect here.

The Keihan, Hankyu, Kintetsu, and other rail networks also offer frequent service to other cities in the Kansaimarker region. JR West and Kintetsu connect at Kyoto Station. Hankyu has a terminal at the intersection of Shijō Kawaramachimarker, Kyoto's most thriving shopping and amusement district. Keihan has a terminal at which is not far from Shijō Kawaramachi.


The Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau operates the Kyoto Municipal Subway consisting of two lines: the Karasuma Line and the Tōzai Line.

Karasuma Line

The Karasuma Line is colored green, and its stations are given numbers following the letter K. It serves the following wards of Kyoto: Sakyō-kumarker, Kita-kumarker, Kamigyō-kumarker, Nakagyō-kumarker, Shimogyō-kumarker, Minami-kumarker, and Fushimi-kumarker. It connects in Sakyo-kumarker and in Minami-kumarker.

Between and , trains run beneath the north-south , hence the name. They link to the other subway line, the Tozai Line, at . They also connect to the JR lines at Kyoto Stationmarker and the Hankyu Kyoto Line running cross-town beneath Shijō Streetmarker at the intersection of Shijō Karasuma, Kyoto's central business district. At Shijō Karasuma, the subway station is named , whereas Hankyu's station is called .

The Transportation Bureau and Kintetsu Corporation jointly operate through services, which continue to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to Kintetsu Nara Stationmarker in Nara. The Karasuma Line and the Kintetsu Kyoto Line connect at and . All the stations are located in the city proper.


Tozai Line

The Tōzai Line is coloured vermilion, and its stations are given numbers following the letter T. This line runs from the southeastern area of the city, then east to west (i.e. tōzai in Japanese) through the Kyoto downtown area where trains run beneath the three east-west streets: , and . It serves the city of Uji and the following wards of Kyoto: Fushimi-kumarker, Yamashina-kumarker, Higashiyama-kumarker, Nakagyō-kumarker and Ukyō-kumarker. The present terminal stations are in Uji and in Ukyō-ku, Kyotomarker. The Keihan Keishin Line has been integrated into this line, and thus Keihan provides through services from in the neighbouring city of Ōtsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecturemarker.

The Tōzai Line connects to the Keihan lines at , , and , to the JR lines at , and , and to the Keifuku Electric Railroad at Uzumasa Tenjingawa. All the stations except Rokujizō are located in Kyoto.

High speed rail

The Tōkaidō Shinkansen operated by JR Central provides high-speed rail service linking Kyoto with Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyomarker to the east of Kyoto and with nearby Osaka and points west on the San'yo Shinkansen, such as Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu and Fukuoka. The trip from Tokyo takes about two hours and twenty-two minutes. From Hakatamarker in Fukuoka, Nozomi takes you to Kyoto in just over three hours. All trains including Nozomi stop at Kyoto Station, serving as a gateway to not only Kyoto Prefecturemarker but also northeast Osakamarker, south Shigamarker and north Naramarker.


Although Kyoto does not have its own airport, travelers can get to the city via Kansai International Airportmarker and Itami Airportmarker in Osaka Prefecturemarker. The Haruka Express operated by JR West carries passengers from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Stationmarker in 73 minutes.

JR-WEST: Travel Information > Access to Kansai Airport

Osaka Airport Transport buses connect Itami Airportmarker and Kyoto Station Hachijo Exit in an hour and cost 1,280 yen for a one-way trip. Some buses go further, make stops at major hotels and intersections in downtown, and get to Nijō Stationmarker or the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto near Keage Station of Municipal Subway Tozai Line.


Kyoto's municipal bus network is extensive. Private carriers also operate within the city. Many tourists join commuters on the public buses, or take tour buses. Kyoto's buses have announcements in English and electronic signs with stops written in the Latin alphabet.

Most city buses have a fixed fare. A one-day bus pass and a combined unlimited train and bus pass are also available. These are especially useful for visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. The bus information center just outside the central station handles tickets and passes. The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called "Bus Navi." It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. This too is available at the information center in front of the main station.

Buses operating on routes within the city, the region, and the nation stop at Kyoto Stationmarker. In addition to Kyoto Station, bus transfer is available at the intersections of Shijō Kawaramachimarker and . The intersection of Karasuma Kitaōji to the north of downtown has a major bus terminal serving passengers who take the Karasuma Line running beneath Karasuma Street, Kyoto's main north-south street.


Cycling forms a very important form of personal transportation in the city. The geography and scale of the city are such that the city may be easily navigated on a bicycle.


The UNESCO World Heritage Site

About 20% of Japan's National Treasures and 14% of Important Cultural Properties exist in the city proper. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) includes 17 locations in Kyoto, Uji in Kyoto Prefecture and Ōtsu in Shiga Prefecture. The site has been designated as World Heritage in 1994.

Image:KamigamoJinjya Saiden.jpg|Kamigamo Shrinemarker
Image:Shimogamo 01.jpg|Shimogamo Shrinemarker
Image:Japan 2006 - Kyoto - Toji Pagoda.JPG|Tō-jimarker (東寺)Image:Kiyomizudera sakra01.jpg|Kiyomizu-deramarker (清水寺)Image:Saihouji-kokedera02.jpg|Saihō-jimarker (西芳寺)Image:Tenryu-Ji Garden.jpg|Tenryū-jimarker (天龍寺)Image:Kinkaku3402CBcropped.jpg|Kinkaku-jimarker (金閣寺)Image:RyoanJi-Dry garden.jpg|Ryōan-jimarker (龍安寺)Image:Nishihonganji4.jpg|Nishi Hongan-jimarker
Image:Nijo Castle 1.jpg|Nijō Castlemarker (二条城)Image:DaigojiKondo3237.jpg|Daigo-jimarker (醍醐寺)Image:GinkakujiTemple.jpg|Ginkaku-jimarker (銀閣寺)Image:Ninnaji3.jpg|Ninna-jimarker (仁和寺)Image:Kouzanji_sandou.jpg|Kōzan-jimarker (高山寺)

Iwatayama monkey park

 in Nishikyō-kumarker is a park where monkeys roam freely. The park itself is inhabited by a troupe of over 170 Japanese macaque monkeys. After paying admission, one walks up a steep hill, at the top of which is an enclosure where visitors may go in and safely feed the monkeys. As there are no fences, the monkeys can come and go as they please, but they are especially tempted by food such as apples or peanuts. Even though the animals are wild, they have become accustomed to humans, and so are not afraid to come close to tourists bearing food.

Museums and Gardens


Food and crafts adorn every street during the Gion matsuri.
Photo taken 2007.
Major festivals punctuate Kyoto's calendar. The first is the Aoi Matsuri on May 15. Two months later (July 1 to 31) is the Gion Matsuri known as one of the 3 great festivals of Japan, culminating in a massive parade on July 17. Kyoto marks the Bon Festival with the Gozan Okuribi, lighting fires on mountains to guide the spirits home (August 16). The October 22 Jidai Matsuri, Festival of the Ages, celebrates Kyoto's illustrious past.

Image:Minami Kannonyama Gion Matsuri Yoiyama.jpg|Gion Matsuri (祇園祭)Image:Aoi-Matsuri-01.jpg|Aoi Matsuri (葵祭)Image:JidaiMatsuri Gohouren.jpg|Jidai Matsuri (時代祭)Image:Gozanokuribi Daimonji2.jpg|Gozan Okuribi (五山送り火)



In soccer, Kyoto is represented by Kyoto Sanga F.C. who won the Emperor's Cup, in 2002, and rose to J. League's Division 1 in 2005. Kyoto Sanga has a long history as an amateur non-company club, although it was only with the advent of professionalization that it was able to compete in the Japanese top division.

Amateur football clubs such as F.C. Kyoto BAMB 1993 and Kyoto Shiko Club (both breakaway factions of the original Kyoto Shiko club that became Kyoto Sanga) as well as unrelated AS Laranja Kyoto compete in the regional Kansai soccer league.


With the popularity of the nearby Hanshin Tigers, Kyoto has never had a team in Nippon Professional Baseball, though the Tigers play several neutral-site games at Kyoto's Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadiummarker every year.

Additionally, Kyoto's high school baseball teams are strong, with Heian and Toba in particular making strong showings recently at the annual tournament held in Koshien Stadiummarker, Nishinomiya, near Osaka.

Sister cities

Reference: Sister and Other Associated Cities, Kyoto's official web site.

See also



External links

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