( ) is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.
the first human settlement on the islands of Japan to approximately
, 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,
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.
city, Heian-kyō (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
(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
. (Some believe that it
is still a legal capital: see Capital
of Japan.) After Edo was renamed Tokyo (meaning
"Eastern Capital"), Kyoto was known for a short time as
Saikyo (西京 Saikyō, meaning "Western
An obsolete spelling for the city's name is Kioto
it was formerly known to the West as Meaco
( ; 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
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
) 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
some consideration by the United States 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
modernization is continually breaking down the traditional Kyoto in
favor of newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Station complex.
Kyoto became a city designated by
on September 1, 1956. In 1997, Kyoto
hosted the conference that resulted in the protocol
on greenhouse gas
emissions that bears the
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 Ujigawa to the
south, the Katsuragawa to the west, and the Kamogawa to the east.
Kyoto City takes up 1.9% of the
land in the prefecture with an area of 827.9 km²
original city was arranged in accordance with traditional Chinese geomancy following the model of the ancient Chinese
capital of Chang'an (present-day Xi'an).
Palace 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
Nakagyō, Shimogyō, and Kamigyō still follow a grid pattern.
the main business district is located to the south of the old
Palace, 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
, 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
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
of World War II. With its
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-dera, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars
off the slope of a mountain; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion; and Ryōan-ji, famous for its rock garden. The Heian
Jingū 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 Palace 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
Imperial Villa, one of its best Japanese gardens.
notable sites in Kyoto include Arashiyama and its picturesque lake, the Gion and Pontochō geisha quarters, the Philosopher's Walk, and the canals which line some of the older
of Ancient Kyoto" are listed by the UNESCO as a
World Heritage Site.
include the Kamo
Shrines (Kami and Shimo), Kyō-ō-Gokokuji (Tō-ji), Kiyomizu-dera, Daigo-ji, Ninna-ji, Saihō-ji (Kokedera), Tenryū-ji, Rokuon-ji (Kinkaku-ji), Jishō-ji (Ginkaku-ji), Ryōan-ji, Hongan-ji, Kōzan-ji and the Nijo Castle, primarily built by the Tokugawa shoguns.
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
Japan's television and film industry has its center in Kyoto. Many
, action films featuring
samurai, were shot at Toei Uzumasa Eigamura
. 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
Nihonbashi (the bridge at the entry to Edo), a traditional courthouse, a Meiji Period police box and part of the former Yoshiwara red-light district.
Actual film shooting
takes place occasionally, and visitors are welcome to observe the
International Manga Museum 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
View overlooking Kyoto
Key industy of Kyoto is IT
and electronics : the
city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo
, Intelligent Systems
, GS Yuasa
. And the headquarters
of Murata Manufacturing are
located in the suburbs of Kyoto Nagaokakyō.
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
also major industry of Kyoto, most of which are run by artisans in
small plants. Kyoto's kimono
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
brewing is Kyoto's traditionnal industry.
and Takara Holdings
are major sake brewers
headquartered in Kyoto.
Other businesses headquartered in Kyoto include the apparel company
, the delivery transportation company
and the garage kits
Colleges and universities
Campus Plaza Kyoto.
to 37 institutions of higher education, Kyoto is one of the
academic centers of the country. Kyoto University, one of Japan's national universities, is
considered to be one of the top universities in Japan.
to The Times
Higher Education Supplement top-ranking universitiy, Kyoto
University 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 University and Ritsumeikan University are popular private universities in Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan
Kyoto also has a unique higher education network called the
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
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
(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 University has its own Japan Center in Kyoto.
Kyoto Station is the center for transportation in the
The second-largest in Japan, it houses a shopping
mall, hotel, movie theater, Isetan
store, and several local government facilities under one
fifteen-story roof. The Tōkaidō Shinkansen
below) as well as all conventional rail lines operated by JR West
Keihan, Hankyu, Kintetsu, and
other rail networks also offer frequent service to other cities in
JR West and Kintetsu connect at Kyoto Station.
has a terminal at the intersection of Shijō
Kawaramachi, Kyoto's most thriving shopping and amusement
Keihan has a terminal at which is not far from
Municipal Transportation Bureau
operates the Kyoto Municipal Subway
two lines: the Karasuma Line
The Karasuma Line is colored green, and its stations are given
numbers following the letter K
the following wards of Kyoto:
Sakyō-ku, Kita-ku, Kamigyō-ku, Nakagyō-ku, Shimogyō-ku, Minami-ku, and Fushimi-ku. It connects in Sakyo-ku and in Minami-ku.
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 Station and the Hankyu Kyoto
Line running cross-town beneath Shijō Street 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 .
Transportation Bureau and Kintetsu
Corporation jointly operate through services, which continue to
the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to
Nara Station in Nara.
Karasuma Line and the Kintetsu Kyoto Line connect at and . All the
stations are located in the city proper.
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
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-ku, Yamashina-ku, Higashiyama-ku, Nakagyō-ku and Ukyō-ku. The present terminal stations are in
Uji and in Ukyō-ku, Kyoto. 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
The Tōzai Line connects to the Keihan lines at , , and , to the JR
lines at , and , and to the Keifuku Electric Railroad
Uzumasa Tenjingawa. All the stations except Rokujizō are located in
High speed rail
operated by JR Central provides
high-speed rail service linking Kyoto with Nagoya, Yokohama and
Tokyo to the east of Kyoto and with nearby Osaka and points west on the San'yo Shinkansen, such as Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu
The trip from
Tokyo takes about two hours and twenty-two minutes. From Hakata 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
Prefecture but also
northeast Osaka, south Shiga and north Nara.
Kyoto does not have its own airport, travelers can get to the city
International Airport and Itami
Airport in Osaka Prefecture. The Haruka Express operated by
JR West carries passengers from Kansai
Airport to Kyoto
Station in 73 minutes.
JR-WEST: Travel Information > Access to Kansai
Osaka Airport Transport buses
Airport 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 Station or the Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto near
Keage Station of Municipal Subway
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
operating on routes within the city, the region, and the nation
stop at Kyoto
Station. In addition to Kyoto Station, bus transfer
is available at the intersections of Shijō
Kawaramachi and .
The intersection of Karasuma Kitaōji
to the north of
downtown has a major bus terminal serving passengers who take the
running beneath Karasuma Street
, Kyoto's main north-south
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
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)
locations in Kyoto, Uji in Kyoto Prefecture and Ōtsu in Shiga
Prefecture. The site has been designated as World Heritage in
Image:Japan 2006 - Kyoto - Toji
(東寺)Image:Kiyomizudera sakra01.jpg|Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺)Image:Saihouji-kokedera02.jpg|Saihō-ji (西芳寺)Image:Tenryu-Ji Garden.jpg|Tenryū-ji (天龍寺)Image:Kinkaku3402CBcropped.jpg|Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺）Image:RyoanJi-Dry garden.jpg|Ryōan-ji (龍安寺)Image:Nishihonganji4.jpg|Nishi
Image:Nijo Castle 1.jpg|Nijō
Castle (二条城)Image:DaigojiKondo3237.jpg|Daigo-ji (醍醐寺)Image:GinkakujiTemple.jpg|Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺)Image:Ninnaji3.jpg|Ninna-ji (仁和寺)Image:Kouzanji_sandou.jpg|Kōzan-ji (高山寺)
Iwatayama monkey park
in Nishikyō-ku 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.
Major festivals punctuate Kyoto's calendar. The first is the
. 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
, lighting fires on
mountains to guide the spirits home (August
). The October 22 Jidai Matsuri
, Festival of the Ages,
celebrates Kyoto's illustrious past.
Image:Minami Kannonyama Gion Matsuri Yoiyama.jpg|Gion Matsuri
(葵祭)Image:JidaiMatsuri Gohouren.jpg|Jidai Matsuri
, 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.
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
Athletic Stadium 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
Reference: Sister and Other Associated Cities
, Kyoto's official
- Lone, John. (2000). Old Kyoto: A Short Social History.
Oxford: Oxford University
Press. ISBN 0-19-590940-2.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A. B. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital
of Japan, 794–1869. Kyoto: The Ponsonby Memorial Society.
- Stewart, Harold. (1981). By the Old Walls of Kyoto: A
Year's Cycle of Landscape Poems with Prose Commentaries. New
York: Weatherhill. ISBN 083480154X.
- Titsingh, Isaac. (1834).
[Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/Hayashi Gahō,
1652], Nipon o daï itsi
ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain
and Ireland. ...Click link for digitized, full-text copy of this
book (in French)
- Wyden, Peter. (1984). Day One: Before Hiroshima and
After. Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-671-46142-7.