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  • the 430-foot-tall (131 m) Kyoto Tower (pictured) is the tallest man-made structure in the city of Kyoto, Japan?
  • in 1686, at the Tōshiya archery contest in Kyoto, Japan, Wasa Daihachiro successfully fired a record 13,053 arrows in 24 hours, averaging nine arrows a minute and hitting the target 8,133 times?

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Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kyoto
京都
—  Designated city  —
京都市 · Kyoto City
Kyoto, view from Kiyomizu-dera temple

Flag
Location of Kyoto in Kyoto Prefecture
Kyoto is located in Japan
Kyoto
Coordinates: 35°1′N 135°46′E / 35.017°N 135.767°E / 35.017; 135.767
Country Japan
Region Kansai
Prefecture Kyoto Prefecture
Government
 - Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa (門川大作)
Area
 - Total 827.90 km2 (319.7 sq mi)
Population
(April 2008)
1,465,917
 - Density 1,779/km2 (4,607.6/sq mi)
City Symbols
 - Tree Weeping Willow, Japanese Maple and Katsura
 - Flower Camellia, Azalea and Sugar Cherry
Website City of Kyoto
Phone number 075-222-3111
Address

488 Teramachi-Oike, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu
604-8571

Kyoto ( Kyōto?) (Japanese pronunciation: [kjoːto]  ( listen)) 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.

Contents

History

Kyoto-map-c1940-after-Maraini.jpg

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.[1]

The new 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 (京), Miyako (都) or Kyo no Miyako (京の都). In the 11th century, the city was renamed Kyoto ("capital city").[2] 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 Tokyo (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 (Japanese: ; 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 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." [3] 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 Station 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.

Historically Kyoto was the largest city in Japan, later surpassed by Osaka and Edo (Tokyo) 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 its population has gradually declined 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.

Geography

Autumn in Kyoto attracts throngs of tourists to temples like this.
Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
State Party  Japan
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv
Reference 688
Region** Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 1994  (18th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

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 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) 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

The 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). The Imperial 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.

Today, the main business district is located to the south of the old Imperial 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 Golden Pavilion is the best known temple in Kyoto

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

Elections

Wards

Wards of Kyoto

Kyoto has eleven wards. They are

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

Culture

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-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 Shugaku-in Imperial Villa, one of its best Japanese gardens.

Other 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 streets.

Typical maiko dress, hair ornaments, and nape make-up
The entrance to Higashi Otani Mausoleum
A monk by the Katsura River in Arashiyama

The "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" are listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. These 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. 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.[4] 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 action.

Kyoto 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 titles.

Economy

The exterior of Nintendo's main headquarters in Kyoto
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 Nagaokakyō.

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.[5], and it was chosen as the second most attractive city in Japan, in a regional brand survey.[6]

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 traditional 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.

Home 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. According to The Times Higher Education Supplement top-ranking university, Kyoto University is ranked the second university in Japan and 25th in the world.[7] 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 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.[8]

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 University has its own Japan Center in Kyoto.[9]

Transportation

Kyoto Station signboard
Hankyu Department Store at Shijō Kawaramachi

Rail

Kyoto Station 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 Kansai region. JR West and Kintetsu connect at Kyoto Station. Hankyu has a terminal at the intersection of Shijō Kawaramachi, Kyoto's most thriving shopping and amusement district. Keihan has a station at Sanjō Keihan which is not far from Shijō Kawaramachi.

Subway

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

Karasuma Line
An express service bound for Kokusaikaikan Station of the Karasuma Line is running on the Kintetsu Nara 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-ku, Kita-ku, Kamigyō-ku, Nakagyō-ku, Shimogyō-ku, Minami-ku, and Fushimi-ku. It connects Kokusaikaikan in Sakyo-ku and Takeda in Minami-ku.

Between Kitaōji and Jūjō, trains run beneath the north-south Karasuma Street (ja:烏丸通 Karasuma-dori?), hence the name. They link to the other subway line, the Tozai Line, at Karasuma Oike. 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 Shijō, whereas Hankyu's station is called Karasuma.

The Transportation Bureau and Kintetsu Corporation jointly operate through services, which continue to the Kintetsu Kyoto Line to Kintetsu Nara Station in Nara. The Karasuma Line and the Kintetsu Kyoto Line connect at Kyoto and Takeda. 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: Sanjō Street (ja:三条通 Sanjō-dori?), Oike Street (ja:御池通 Oike-dori?) and Oshikōji Street (ja:押小路通 Oshikōji-dori?). 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 Rokujizo in Uji and Uzumasa Tenjingawa in Ukyō-ku, Kyoto. The Keihan Keishin Line has been integrated into this line, and thus Keihan provides through services from Hamaōtsu in the neighbouring city of Ōtsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture.

The Tōzai Line connects to the Keihan lines at Rokujizō, Yamashina, Misasagi and Sanjō Keihan, to the JR lines at Nijō, Yamashina and Rokujizō, 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 Tokyo 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 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 Kyoto Prefecture but also northeast Osaka, south Shiga and north Nara.

Airport

Kansai Airport express Haruka at Kyoto Station

Although Kyoto does not have its own airport, travelers can get to the city via Kansai 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 Airport

Osaka Airport Transport buses connect Itami 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 Tozai Line.

Buses

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 Station. In addition to Kyoto Station, bus transfer is available at the intersections of Shijō Kawaramachi and Sanjō Keihan. 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

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.

Tourism

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.

Iwatayama monkey park

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama (嵐山モンキーパークいわたやま?) 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

  • Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum (梅小路蒸気機関車館)
  • Onishi Seiwemon Museum (大西清右衛門美術館)
  • Kitamura Museum (北村美術館)
  • The Kyoto Arashiyama Orgel Museum (京都嵐山オルゴール美術館)
  • Kyoto City Heiankyo Sosei-Kan Museum (京都市平安京創生館)
  • Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (京都市美術館)
  • Kyoto City Archaeological Museum (京都市考古資料館)
  • Kyoto Art Center (京都芸術センター)
  • The Kyoto International Manga Museum (京都国際マンガミュージアム)
  • The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (京都国立近代美術館)
  • The Kyoto National Museum (京都国立博物館)
  • The Kyoto University Museum (京都大学総合博物館)
  • Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (京都伝統産業ふれあい館)
  • The Museum of Kyoto (京都府京都文化博物館)
  • The Kyoto Botanical Garden (京都府立植物園)
  • Garden of Fine Arts, Kyoto (京都府立陶板名画の庭)
  • Kyoto Prefectural Insho-Domoto Museum of Fire Arts (京都府立堂本印象美術館)
  • Koryo Museum of Art (高麗美術館)
  • Joutenkaku Museum (承天閣美術館)
  • Sen-oku Hakuko Kan (泉屋博古館)
  • Toei Movie Land (東映太秦映画村)
  • Nomura Art Museum (野村美術館)
  • Namikawa Cloisonne Museum of Kyoto (並河靖之七宝記念館)
  • The Yurinkan Museum (藤井斉成会有鄰館)
  • The Tin Toy Museum (ブリキのおもちゃ博物館)
  • The Hosomi Museum (細見美術館)
  • Hakusasonso Hashimoto Kansetsu Memorial Museum and Garden (白沙村荘 橋本関雪記念館)
  • The Raku Museum (楽美術館)
  • Kyoto Museum for World Peace of Ritsumeikan University (立命館大学国際平和ミュージアム)

Festivals

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.

Sports

Soccer

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.

Baseball

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 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 Koshien Stadium, Nishinomiya, Hyōgo, near Osaka.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

The city of Kyoto has a sister city relationship with:[10]

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Fiévé, Nicolas (ed.). (2008).Atlas historique de Kyôto. Analyse spatiale des systèmes de mémoire d’une ville, de son architecture et de ses paysages urbains. Foreword Kôichirô Matsuura, Preface Jacques Gernet, Paris, Éditions de l’UNESCO / Éditions de l’Amateur, 528 pages, 207 maps et 210 ill.ISBN 978-2-85917-486-6.
  • Fiévé, Nicolas and Waley, Paul. (2003). Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective: Place, Power and Memory in Kyoto, Edo and Tokyo. London: Routledge. 417 pages + 75 ill. 10-ISBN 0-700-71409-X; 13-ISBN 978-0-700-71409-4
  • 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.

Notes

  1. ^ Kyoto Exhibitors' Association (1910) Kyoto Kyoto Exhibitors' Association of the Japan-British exhibition, Kyoto, p. 3 OCLC 1244391
  2. ^ Lowe, John. (2000). Old Kyoto: A short Social History, p. x.
  3. ^ Wyden, Peter. (1984). Day One: Before Hiroshima and After, page 196.
  4. ^ "Welcome to Kyoto — Toei Uzumasa Eigamura Movie Museum". Pref.kyoto.jp. http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/en/theme/others/uzumasa_movie/. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  5. ^ "Kyoto tourism setting new record for 6th year in a row". Japan News Review. 2007-07-06. http://www.japannewsreview.com/society/kansai/20070706page_id=398. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  6. ^ "Sapporo picked as "most attractive town" for 2nd consecutive year — J-Cast". En.j-cast.com. 2007-07-23. http://en.j-cast.com/2007/08/09009922.html. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  7. ^ "The Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings". http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/hybrid.asp?typeCode=431&pubCode=1&navcode=148. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Stanford Japan Center". Stanford-jc.or.jp. 1999-02-22. http://www.stanford-jc.or.jp/index.html. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  10. ^ "Kyoto City Web / Data Box / Sister Cities". www.city.kyoto.jp. http://www.city.kyoto.jp/koho/eng/databox/sister.html. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 

External links



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Kyoto is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji
The Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji

Kyōto (京都) [1] was the capital of Japan for over a millennium, and carries a reputation as its most beautiful city. However, visitors may be surprised by how much work they will have to do to see Kyoto's beautiful side. Most first impressions of the city will be of the urban sprawl of central Kyoto, around the ultra-modern glass-and-steel train station, which is itself an example of a city steeped in tradition colliding with the modern world.

Nonetheless, the persistent visitor will soon discover Kyoto's hidden beauty in the temples and parks which ring the city center, and find that the city has much more to offer than immediately meets the eye.

Understand

Nestled among the mountains of Western Honshu, Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. During its millennium at the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion, it accumulated an unparalleled collection of palaces, temples and shrines, built for emperors, shoguns, and monks. Kyoto was among the few Japanese cities that escaped the allied bombings of World War II and as a result, Kyoto still has an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional townhouses known as machiya. However the city is continuously undergoing modernization with some of the traditional Kyoto buildings being replaced by newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Station complex.

Districts

Though dwarfed in size by other major Japanese cities, Kyoto is vast in terms of its rich cultural heritage - the material endowment of over a thousand years as the country's imperial capital. The city's numerous palaces, shrines, temples and other landmarks are spread out over the following districts:

  • Central - Site of Nijō Castle (a former residence of the Tokugawa shōguns) and the stately grounds of the Imperial Palace. The district's southern end is anchored by the massive glass-and-steel building of the city's main gateway, Kyoto Station.
  • Arashiyama (Western Kyoto) - Set against the beautiful tree-covered hills of Arashiyama, this district is rich in both historic and natural wonders.
  • Higashiyama (Eastern Kyoto) - Nestled between the Kamo River and the temple-studded mountains of Higashiyama, this area's many attractions include the famed geisha district of Gion and the historic sites strung alongside the well-known Philosopher's Path.
  • North - Graced with scores of centuries-old shrines and temples, including several World Heritage Sites. One of Kyoto's most famous attractions - the magnificent gilded pavilion of Kinkaku-ji - can be found here.
  • South - This district covers a large part of Japan's former capital, stretching from the Ōharano area in the west to Fushimi-ku, Daigo, and the southern tip of Higashiyama-ku in the east.

Orientation

Kyoto's city planners way back in 794 decided to copy the Chinese capital Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) and adopt a grid pattern, which persists to this day in the city core. West-east streets are numbered, with Ichijō-dōri (一条通, "First Street") up north and Jūjō-dōri (十条通, "Tenth Street") down south, but there is no obvious pattern to the names of north-south streets.

Not arriving at Kansai or Itami?

  • A small number of air flights operate daily from Tokyo's Narita Airport to Itami and Kansai, for the benefit of international passengers. Another option is to take the Narita Express limited express train to Tokyo station, then change to the Tokaido Shinkansen.
  • If you arrive at Nagoya's Chubu Centrair International Airport, Kyoto can be reached in 80 minutes by taking the Meitetsu Airport Line to Nagoya, then changing to the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Kyoto does not have its own airport, but rather is served by Osaka's two airports. There is an excellent road and railway network between the two cities.

From Kansai

Overseas travelers can fly into Kansai International Airport and then get a train to Kyoto. Kansai Airport Station is located opposite the arrival lobby where the Japanese Rail (JR) West Haruka Kansai Airport Limited Express Train can be caught. The best and fastest way to get to Kyoto from the airport is to buy a one-day JR West Kansai Area Pass and take the Haruka Limited Express (non-reserved tickets only). The Haruka Limited Express takes about 75 minutes, with trains leaving every half hour. The pass is for foreigners only and costs ¥2,000, which is ¥980 less than a regular Haruka Limited Express ticket from the airport to Kyoto. You will need to show your passport when purchasing a ticket.

Comfortable limousine buses run from the airport to Kyoto Station, twice an hour, stopping at some of the major hotels along the way. The ride takes 90 – 135 minutes and costs ¥2,300 (children ¥1,150) one-way or ¥3,800 for round-trip. Note that the trip can take longer when there is traffic. Bus tickets can be purchased outside of the airport's arrival lobby on the first floor.

From Itami

Located near Osaka, Itami Airport is Kansai's largest domestic airport. Travelers flying into Kyoto from other areas in Japan will most likely arrive here. The easiest way to get to Kyoto from Itami Airport is by limousine bus. The trip takes about an hour and costs just under ¥1,300. The buses run three times an hour. Alternatively, you can take a combination of monorail and train, which requires at least two changes (monorail to Hotarugaike, Hankyu Takarazuka Line to Juso, Hankyu Kyoto Line to Kyoto) but costs just ¥650 and can be completed in an hour. Whereas the Limousine Bus will leave you at Kyoto Station in the southern part of Kyoto, the Hankyu Railway runs to Shijō Street in central Kyoto.

A 500-series shinkansen train entering Kyoto station.
A 500-series shinkansen train entering Kyoto station.

Most visitors arrive at JR Kyoto station by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Nozomi trains take approximately 2.15 hrs. to Kyoto and costs ¥13520 one-way. Travel agencies in Tokyo and Kyoto sell nozomi tickets with ¥700-1,000 discount. If you buy a ticket in an agency, it is "open date" - you can board any train as long as it is not full. All you have to do is show up at the train station, register your agency ticket and then you will be reserved a seat. The trains are equipped with vending machines and attendants selling snacks. Hikari trains, which run less frequently and make a few more stops, cover the trip in around 2.45 hours, but only the Hikari and the Kodama trains can be used by Japan Rail Pass holders at no charge.

Travelers can also take advantage of the Puratto Kodama Ticket [2], which offers a discount on the all-stopping Kodama services if purchased at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a free drink on board. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥9800 yen and takes 3.45 hours. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.

During travel periods when the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Kyoto during the day in about 8.30 hours using all-local trains. Traveling in a group is the best way to get discounts. The usual fare is ¥8000 however a party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five traveling together drops the price down to ¥2300 per person.

For travel in the Kansai region, a cheaper and almost as fast alternative is the JR shinkaisoku (新快速) rapid service, which connects to Osaka, Kobe and Himeji at the price of a local train. For a slightly cheaper price you can use the private Hankyu or Keihan lines to Osaka and Kobe, or the Kintetsu line to Nara. The Kansai Thru Pass includes travel on the private lines through to Kyoto, and this may prove cheaper that a JR Pass if you are staying a few days in the area.

Overnight by train

Direct overnight train service between Tokyo and Kyoto on a daily basis was abolished with the discontinuation of the Ginga express train in 2008. Such a journey by rail is still possible, however, by taking a route via northern Japan. This requires a change of trains and a large sum of money. As a result, this may be of interest to Japan Rail Pass holders.

From Tokyo Station, take the final Joetsu Shinkansen departure towards Niigata, and change at Nagaoka (長岡) station for the Kitaguni (きたぐに) express train to Kyoto. The Kitaguni has unreserved standard class seating, reserved green car seating, and couchettes; all seating is non-smoking.

If you use the Shinkansen and an unreserved seat on the Kitaguni, the rail pass fully covers the trip, which takes about nine hours in each direction. Ordinary pass holders who wish to upgrade to the green seat on the Kitaguni can pay ¥5150; Green Car pass holders can use the Green Cars at no charge. Using a couchette on the Kitaguni will incur a surcharge, regardless of rail pass type.

As of November 2009, Max Toki (とき) #353 departs Tokyo Station at 21:40 and arrives in Nagaoka at 23:26. This connects to the Kitaguni, leaving Nagaoka at 23:53 and arriving in Kyoto at 6:16. The return Kitaguni leaves Kyoto just past midnight (0:02) and arrives in Nagaoka at 7:14. The bullet train connection is on Toki #304, which leaves Nagaoka at 7:23 and arrives in Tokyo at 9:12.

You can also take either the Hokuriku (北陸) limited express or the Noto (能登) express running overnight from Ueno Station to Kanazawa, and change to a morning Thunderbird (サンダーバード) train to Kyoto. Unfortunately, both the Hokuriku and Noto will be discontinued by Japan Railways in March 2010.

While the northern Japan train route can prove to be a good value, depending on how you use your rail pass, remember that the rail pass is also valid for JR buses operating between Tokyo and Kyoto (see 'By Bus').

Overnight by train with rest stop

As a Rail Pass holder, you may also choose to simply split up your journey, stopping at an intermediate destination en-route in order to sleep somewhere, and the cost incurred will only be for the hotel room. This is also a good way to travel overnight, especially if you are able to find cheap accomodations, such as a business hotel. Yes, it may be a little hectic, and it might require some research, but this method carries two significant advantages: location and money. You will more than likely find good accomodations very close to a main train station in a smaller city, compared to a big city such as Tokyo, and it will more than likely be cheaper than hotels found in Tokyo.

For example, you can use the Tokaido Shinkansen late at night and sleep over at a hotel in Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi or Nagoya; In the morning, grab one of the first bullet train departures in the same direction to continue your trip. As of December 2009, here is one way you could go about this: at 10 PM, take the Hikari train for a 75-minute ride to Hamamatsu. Once there you can take a rest at Hamamatsu's Toyoko Inn, which costs ¥6000 for a single room. At 6:30 the next morning, board the first bullet train of the day, a Kodama, and you will be in Kyoto before 8:00.

By car

Kyoto is easily reached by car via the Meishin Expressway between Nagoya and Osaka, but you'll definitely want to park your car on the outskirts of the city and use public transport to get around. Most attractions are in places built well before the existence of automobiles, and the availability of parking varies between extremely limited and non-existent. Furthermore, what little parking is available might be outrageously expensive.

By bus

As Kyoto is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Kyoto and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares.

The JR Bus Group (Japanese Website) is a major operator of the routes from the Tokyo area to Kansai. Buses operate via the Tomei Expressway (to/from Tokyo Station) or the Chuo Expressway (to/from Shinjuku Station).

Other bus companies offer trips between Tokyo and Kyoto, but it should be pointed out that seat reservations for JR Buses can be made in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains. Moreover, the Japan Rail Pass is valid on ALL JR buses operating from the Tokyo area to Kyoto. (Note that the pass is NOT valid on buses to/from Yokohama.)

From Tokyo, buses run to and from Kyoto in approximately eight hours. Major bus locations are as follows:

  • Tokyo: Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit (東京駅八重洲口), with a few buses discharging at the Nihombashi Exit (東京駅日本橋口)
  • Shinjuku: Shinjuku Station New South Exit (新宿駅新南口)
  • Kyoto: At Kyoto Station, most buses stop at the Karasuma Exit (京都駅烏丸口) to the north, while others use the Hachijo Exit (京都駅八条口) to the south.

All buses that run from Tokyo to Kyoto are double-decker buses and can be classified under the following two categories:

  • Seishun (Youth) buses: While not exactly targeted at "youth", these are the budget-conscious buses on the route. Seats are narrow with four per row with limited recline. Some of the cheapest buses offer extremely limited amenities however most buses will have a toilet.
  • Standard buses: These are the regular buses, which offer more spacious seating. Blankets are provided on evening routes.

The following services are available: (Current as of January, 2009)

Daytime buses from Tokyo

Standard Bus
  • Two daily departures on the Tomei from Tokyo Station (9:40, 12:20) and Shinjuku Station (10:20, 13:00). Two return trips from Kyoto Station (10:20, 12:20). ¥ 6000 each way and ¥5000 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.
  • Two daily departures on the Chuo from Tokyo Station (8:40, 10:50) and Shinjuku Station (9:20, 11:30). Two return trips from Kyoto Station (9:00, 11:00). ¥ 6000 each way and ¥5000 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.

Nighttime buses from Tokyo

The nighttime bus service from Tokyo to Kansai is called Dream. This route name has several variants.

Seishun Bus
  • The Seishun Dream Kyoto runs on the Tomei Expressway. One daily departure from Ueno Station (21:20) and Tokyo Station (22:00). One return trip from Kyoto Station (22:20). On Fridays, weekends and holidays, an additional departure from Shin-Kiba Station in Odaiba (22:20) and Tokyo Station (23:00), plus an extra northbound run from Kyoto Station (23:10). ¥ 5000 each way; and ¥ 4500 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.
  • The Seishun Chuo Dream Kyoto runs on the Chuo Expressway. One daily departure from Shinjuku Station (23:10) and Kyoto Station (22:40). ¥ 5000 each way and ¥ 4500 if purchased 5 days in advance on most departures.
Regular Bus
  • The Dream Kyoto runs on the Tomei Expressway. Two daily departures from Tokyo Station (22:00, 23:10) and Kyoto Station (23:00, 23:50). One bus departs from Shin-Kiba station in Odaiba (22:20). On Fridays, weekends and holidays, an additional departure from Ueno Station (23:10) and Tokyo Station (23:40), plus an extra northbound run from Kyoto Station (22:00).
  • The Ladies Dream Kyoto is a special bus for women only. One daily departure from Tokyo Station (22:30) and Kyoto Station (23:20).
  • The Chuo Dream Kyoto runs on the Chuo Expressway. One daily departure from Shinjuku Station (23:50) and Kyoto Station (23:10). On Fridays, weekends and holidays, an additional departure from Shinjuku (22:30) and Kyoto (22:30).

For the Dream Kyoto, Ladies Dream and Chuo Dream: ¥ 7000 each way for Monday-Thursday departures and ¥ 8180 each way for Friday, weekday and holiday departures. There is a ¥ 1000 discount on most departures if ticket is purchased 5 days in advance.

  • The Harbor Line Bus departs daily from Yokohama Station at 22:40, with the return bus leaving Kyoto Station at 22:40. ¥ 7950 one way and ¥ 5170 if purchased 21 days in advance on select Monday-Thursday departures.

Other bus operators

Another bus provider on the Tokyo-Kyoto route is Willer Express [3], which is recognizable by its pink-colored buses. An advantage over the JR Buses is that Willer Express offers bus descriptions and booking services in English. However, many services from this company do not allow you to carry large luggage (e.g. suitcases) with you. It is best to confirm with the company whether or not there will be space for luggage before making your booking. In addition, some services do not offer on-board toilets. Along with Tokyo, Willer Express also offers buses to/from Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka.

Kintetsu (Japanese website) and Hankyu (Japanese website) also operate buses between Kyoto and Tokyo, as well as other major cities throughout Japan.

Get around

The sheer size of the city of Kyoto, and the distribution of tourist attractions around the periphery of the city, make the city's public transport system invaluable.

One of the easiest ways to plan a route is through Hyperdia [4] or Kurage [5]. These websites contain station-to-station route plans, which reference public and private trains and subways as well as buses throughout Japan.

If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from Surutto Kansai. For use in west Japan, including Kyoto, there are some other useful tickets: a rechargeable smart card, ICOCA, can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in the Kansai area and also Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagoya (Kintetsu trains) and Tokyo (JR East trains). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations, and cost 2000 yen, which includes a ¥ 500 deposit that will be refunded when the card is returned at JR West Station. For use in Kyoto only there are some other useful tickets:

  • The Kyoto Sightseeing Card can be purchased as a one-day (¥ 1200/Children:¥ 600) or two-day pass (¥ 2000/¥ 1000). It can be used for unlimited travel on the subway and city buses as well as a part of the Kyoto bus route. The two-day pass has to be used on two consecutive days.
  • The Traffica Kyoto Card is a stored-value card in denominations of ¥ 1000 or ¥ 3000. It can be conveniently used up to face value on all subways and buses by simply sliding it through the ticket gate. They offer a 10% bonus value.

Check the Kyoto City Webpage [6] for more information on how to use these cards.

Map of railway lines in most of the Kyoto municipality
Map of railway lines in most of the Kyoto municipality

Kyoto is criss-crossed by several train lines, all of which are clearly sign-posted in English. Although the lines are run independently and prices vary slightly between them, transfers can be purchased at most of the ticket machines. The Keihan train line can be useful for traveling in eastern Kyoto, while the two Keifuku tram lines are an attractive way of traveling in the northwest. Across the street from the northern terminus of the Keihan Line is the Eidan Eizan line, which runs to Mount Hiei and Kurama. The Hankyu Line starts at Shijo-Kawaramachi downtown, and connects to the Karasuma Line one stop later at Karasuma. It's useful for reaching Arashiyama and the Katsura Rikyu; it runs all the way to Osaka and Kobe. JR lines run from Kyoto station to the northwest (JR Sagano line), to the southwest (JR Kyoto line) and to the southeast (JR Nara line). There are local and express trains so check if they stop at your station before you get on.

By subway

There are two subway lines [7] which only serve a rather small part of the city. The north-south running Karasuma Line runs under Kyoto Station, and the west-east running Tozai Line links up with it near the city center. Both are useful for travel in the city center but not really suitable for temple-hopping. The Tozai Line does connect with the Keihan Line, however, which runs parallel to the Kamo-gawa, and is convenient for reaching Gion and southern Kyoto; it also gets you within a short walk of many of the sights in eastern Kyoto.

A one-day pass for the subway costs ¥ 600.

By bus

The bus network is the only practical way of reaching some attractions, particularly those in north-western Kyoto. Confusingly, there are two different bus companies in Kyoto, which occasionally even have overlapping line numbers. Green-and-white Kyoto City Buses (市バス shi-basu) travel within the city, and are the most useful for visitors; unless otherwise noted, all buses listed in this guide are city buses. Red-and-white Kyoto Buses [8] travel to the suburbs and are generally much less useful.

Many buses depart from Kyoto Station, but there are well-served bus stations closer to the city center at Sanjo-Kawabata just outside the Sanjo Keihan subway line, and in the northern part of the city at the Kitaoji subway station. Most city buses have a fixed fare of ¥220, but you can also purchase a one day pass (¥500 for adults and ¥250 for children under 12) with which you can ride an unlimited number of times within a one day period. The day passes can be bought from the bus drivers or from the bus information center just outside Kyoto Station. This is especially useful if you plan on visiting many different points of interest within Kyoto. You can also buy a combined unlimited subway and bus pass for ¥1200.

Unlike most Japanese buses, Kyoto City Buses have announcements and electronic signs in English. The municipal transport company publishes a very useful leaflet called Bus Navi [9]. It contains a route map for the bus lines to most sights and fare information. You can pick it up at the information center in front of the main station.

  • Raku Bus - The city has three routes (100, 101, and 102) which are specifically designed for foreign tourists wishing to hit the tourist spots quickly. The buses skip many of the non-tourist stops and are thus a faster way to get from one sight to the next. The Raku Bus leaves from platform D2 at Kyoto Station. The cost is ¥220 per ride, but the day passes are accepted as well.

By bicycle

Particularly in spring and fall, but at any time of year, getting around by bicycle is an excellent option. Cycling forms a major form of personal transport year-round for locals. The city's grid layout makes navigation easy. You can rent bicycles in many places in Japan for a reasonable price. During the peak tourist seasons, when roads are busy and buses tend to be crammed beyond capacity, bicycles are probably the best way to navigate Kyoto.

Kyoto's wide, straight roads make for heavy traffic in many parts of the city, but it is possible to find back alleys that are quieter and offer better chances to happen upon all sorts of sightseeing/cultural gems. Riding on major roads is OK, especially if you are confident and used to riding with traffic on the road, rather than on the sidewalk and especially again if you are used to riding/driving on the LEFT-HAND side of the road.

  • Kyoto Cycling Tour Project(KCTP), 075-354-3636, [10]. A five-minute walk from the North Exit (the side with the buses and Kyoto Tower) of Kyoto Station. Bikes range from ¥ 1000 to ¥ 2000 for an actual 27-speed mountain bike with city-tires on it; perfect for the average foreigner who is used to a 'real' bike in their home country. The following options can be added: bi-lingual cycling/walking map of Kyoto ¥ 100; light FREE; helmet ¥ 200; back pack; ¥ 100; rain poncho ¥ 100. They can hold on to your luggage while you are riding. There are four other locations of KCTP and you can return your bike to any location, however you will incur a ¥ 400 charge if you return the bike to a location other than the one you rented from. Guided bike tours are also available ranging from ¥ 4500 (three hours) to ¥ 13000 (7.5 hours) that include guide, bike rental, lunch/snacks, accident insurance and admission to some attractions on the tour. Minimum of two people to guarantee departure/maximum of 10. Needs to be reserved three days in advance if you want a tour. Don't worry if the mountain bikes sell out - Kyoto (like Tokyo) is a city with perfect kerb transitions so a 3 speed with basket and bell is fine, if a little bumpy on the river path.  edit
  • There is a friendly bicycle rental shop across the street from the Keihan Demachiyanagi station, behind the taxi rank. ¥ 300 for a day, ¥ 450 for a day and night, and ¥ 2000 for a month. ¥ 2000 deposit. Has 22" children's bikes which come with a free helmet. Opens early (<9AM) - 7PM.
  • There is a small rental shop just north of Sanjo Keihan station on Kawabata Dori that rents bicycles, which doesn't have "tourist signs" attached. On the downside, they do not speak English. ¥ 1000 per day.

By scooter

Kyoto Rental Scooters, ☎ 075-864-1635, [11]. Scooter rental from ¥4000/day, including map, helmet, gloves, waterproof jackets and a free tank of gas. All scooters can be collected from next to Arisugawa stn.(Keifuku line), Uzumasa stn. (JR) or Uzumasa-Tenjingawa stn.(Tozai line). An International Driving License with motorcycle entitlement is required for most nationalities.

Ninnaji Pagoda
Ninnaji Pagoda

Kyoto offers an incredible number of attractions for tourists, and visitors will probably need to plan an itinerary in advance in order to visit as many as possible.

Japan National Tourist Organization's self-guided "Kyoto Walks" pamphlet is available in a ready to print PDF format here[12]. The guide enables first time visitors to tour the city with ease and with minimum fuss by providing bus numbers, names of bus stops and clearly marked walking routes. There are a variety of self-guided walks in different districts to sample Kyoto's various sites. If you see the browser's dialog box popping up, just click on it till the entire PDF document opens.

World Heritage Sites

In 1994, 17 historic sites were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List under the group designation Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Fourteen of the listed sites are in Kyoto itself, two are in the neighbouring city of Uji and one is in Ōtsu.

Listed by location, the fourteen World Heritage Sites in the city of Kyoto are:

Imperial Palaces and Villas

Stroll through the regal retreats of the Imperial Palace or one of the two Imperial villas with gardens and teahouses managed by the Imperial Household Agency. These are the Imperial Palace (京都御所 Kyōto-gosho) and Sentō Imperial Palace (仙洞御所 Sentō-gosho) in Central Kyoto, Katsura Imperial Villa (桂離宮 Katsura-rikyū) in Western Kyoto, and Shugakuin Imperial Villa (修学院離宮 Shugaku-in-rikyū) in Northern Kyoto. All four of these sites are open to the public by reservation through the Imperial Household Agency. The gardens located within the precints of each palace and villa are at their most scenic during spring cherry blossom season and autumn where a riot of colors enchant visitors. Each property is still used from time for official state functions or for private visits by the current royal family members.

The Imperial Household Agency maintains a quota on the number of visitors to each site per tour. Admission is free. English guides are available at the Imperial Palace; however, tours of the Sento Imperial Palace, Katsura Villa, and Shugakuin Villa are conducted in Japanese only (English pamphlets are given at each destination upon entry and books are available for purchase if you'd like to know more). Overseas visitors can apply online to the Imperial Household Agency in English here [13]. On its website are write ups and videos in English for interested visitors to gauge which ones they would like to visit before making an online application. Please note that advanced applications first become available on the first day of the month, three months in advance of the applicant's preferred touring month. For example, if your preferred date of visit falls in the month of April, you can begin applying on January 1. As these visits are over subscribed by the Japanese and overseas visitors, the Imperial Household Agency has to draw lots to pick the successful applicants. All applicants are notified on the status of their applications whether they are successful or otherwise within a week after closing date. Most applicants to the Imperial Palace are accepted, and early reservation is not usually necessary; however, those planning to visit the Sentō Imperial Palace, or either of the Imperial Villas should apply on the first available day of application as they are highly competitive and entire months of tours often become full within the first few days. Winter tours are typically much less competitive, but be aware that the gardens will not be as beautiful as other times of the year.

If an applicant is not successful, they can still go direct in person to the Imperial Household Agency Kyoto Office to enquire whether there are vacancies in the event of withdrawals. Many people are able to do this successfully for the Imperial Palace, but for all others, chances are quite slim. Address: Imperial household Agency Kyoto Office, 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8611, tel: +81-75-211-1215.

Do

Meditation

Well-known for its abundance of historical sites, visitors to Kyoto are often eager to experience traditional Japanese culture. Buddhist meditation sessions are one of the most popular of these activities, and multiple options are available. In Northern Kyoto, Taizo-in and Shunko-in (both sub-temples of Myoshin-ji) offer authentic Zen meditation sessions, complete with explanations of the meaning and significance of such meditation. Reservations are necessary.

Blossom Viewing

Cherry blossoms

Kyoto is arguably the most well known place in the country to view cherry blossoms, and there are certainly an abundance of places to go.

Eastern Kyoto is particularly beautiful during the cherry blossom season. A walk from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji along the Philosopher's Path, lined with cherry trees, is enjoyable, as there are a variety of temples and shrines to stop at along the way. The famous cherry tree in the center of Maruyama Park is often the center of attention, particularly in the evenings when it is lit up. Vendors line the pathway leading up to it, creating a festive atmosphere. Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji also have extended hours during this season offering visitors the opportunity to view them at night, lit up against the blossoms. The garden of the Heian Shrine is also a great option. Blossoms can also be seen along the Kamogawa River. The entire area literally blossoms in the spring!

In Central Kyoto the northern section of the Imperial Park is home to a variety of different types of cherry blossoms and the grounds of Toji Temple bloom beautifully below the towering pagoda. Nijo Castle hosts its own Nijo Light-Up, in which visitors can walk the grounds of the castle at night among the cherry blossoms. You cannot enter the castle during the light-up, so those who want to enter should visit during the day to see the castle and the blossoms.

In Arashiyama, the mountainside is bright with cherry blossoms, along with the area around Hankyu Arashiyama Station. This area is lit up at night and food stalls are set up with a variety of delicious snacks.

Northern Kyoto offers cherry-blossom scouts worthwhile experiences at Hirano Shrine and Kyoto Botanical Gardens, and a walk inside the large grounds of Daigo-ji in Southern Kyoto is certainly made memorable when all the blossoms are in full bloom.

Plum blossoms

Although they are less well-known to foreign tourists, who tend only to focus their attentions on seeing cherry blosssoms, for those with plans to visit Kyoto from mid-February through mid-March, plum blossom viewing makes for a great alternative. Kyoto has two popular plum blossom locations; Kitano Tenmangu and the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, both in northern Kyoto. Kitano Tenmangu has a large grove of plum trees just outside the shrine entrance that, with a ¥600 fee, you can stroll about. Within the shrine grounds, there are many more trees (viewable for free). The shrine even hosts annual performances by geisha amidst the plum blossoms.

Tours

There is a walking tour called "Walk in Kyoto, Talk in English" (16/over ¥2000; 13-15 ¥1000; under 13 free; no reservations, cash only). The tour is given by Hajime Hirooka, better known to the tourists as Johnny Hillwalker. During the five-hour English-speaking tour, Hillwalker shows tourists a large Buddhist temple, a few Shinto shrines and "workshops" (some are just shops) in the back alleys of the city. However, the tour won't take you to the World Heritage Sites nor give you a good overview of the city. The tour operates rain or shine on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between March and November, excluding public holidays. Departure time is 10:15 AM sharp outside the main (north) entrance of Kyoto station. See Johnnie's Kyoto Walking for more information.

Buy

There is a nice selection of reassuringly non-tacky traditional souvenir shops around Arashiyama station in Western Kyoto, selling fans and traditional sweets. More tacky stores can be found in Gion and the approach to Kiyomizu Temple, selling keyrings, cuddly toys, and garish ornaments. Other traditional souvenirs from Kyoto include parasols and carved wooden dolls.

More unconventional but colorful (and relatively cheap) souvenirs are the wooden votive tablets produced by temples, which bear an image relevant to the temple on the reverse. Visitors to the temples write their prayers on the tablets, and hang them up within the temple.

Manga and anime enthusiasts should visit Teramachi Street, a covered shopping street off the main Shijo-dori, which boasts a large manga store on two floors, as well as a two-story branch of Gamers (a chain of anime stores), and a small two-story anime and collectables store.

Many ATMs in Kyoto do not allow non-domestic credit cards to be used, but ATMs in post offices and Seven-Eleven usually do, so if you find your card rejected or invalid in an ATM then try and get to a post office (郵便局 / yuubinkyoku) to use their ATMs instead. Look for the PLUS or Cirrus logos, whichever you find printed on the back of your ATM card. Another option is Citibank, which should work, too. There is an old standby international ATM at the top floor of Takashimaya Department Store at Shijo/Kawaramachi in the "Cash Corner." The bank of ATMs in the basement of the Kyoto Tower shopping center (across the street from JR Kyoto Station) also includes one machine where international cards may be used.

Splurge

In the shopping areas adjacent to Kiyomizudera (on the other side of the Kamo River), it is possible to purchase samurai swords and top of the line kimonos. Do not be surprised if the prices for either item exceed ¥3,000,000.

Kyoto incense is also famous. It usually has a very delicate yet fragrant bouquet. Incense is relatively agreeable in price (¥400-2000). You will be able to find it between Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji.

Damascene

Damascene, a special metal created by imbedding other metals, originated in Damascus, Syria over 2000 years ago and was first introduced to Japan in the 8th century. Since then, it has ceased production worldwide with the exception of Kyoto city, which continues producing it even today. The technique used to create Kyoto's damascene is quite complex, as it must be corroded, rusted, and boiled in tea, along with inlaying many layers of metal to produce the final product. Today, visitors can purchase a variety of jewelry, as well as vases, tea utensils, lighters, and other accessories made using this technique.

Eat

If you've just stepped off the train and the first thing on your mind is a bite to eat, there are several restaurants on the tenth and eleventh floors of the Isetan department store attached to Kyoto station. Most of the offerings are Japanese, including a veritable Ramen village, with a few casual Italian cafes as well.

Macha

Kyoto, and the nearby city of Uji, is well known for its macha (green tea), but visitors don't just come to drink the tea; there are a wide variety of macha-flavored treats. Macha ice cream is particularly popular, and most places selling ice cream will have it as an option. It also shows up in a variety of snacks and gifts.

Yatsuhashi

Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋) is another delicious Kyoto snack. There are two types of yatsuhashi; baked and raw. The hard yatsuhashi was originally made using cinnamon, and tastes like a crunchy biscuit. Today, while the biscuits remain the same, you can also buy hard yatsuhashi dipped in macha and strawberry-flavored glazes.

Raw yatsuhashi, also known as hijiri was also made with cinnamon, but the cinnamon is mixed with bean paste and then folded into the hijiri to make a triangle-shape. Today, you can buy a wide variety of flavors, including macha, chocolate and banana, and black poppyseed. Many of the flavors are seasonal, such as the sakura (cherry blossom) yatsuhashi available in the spring and mango, peach, blueberry, and strawberry, available from May to October.

Although yatsuhashi can be purchased at most souvenir shops, the best place to purchase raw yatsuhashi is the famous Honkenishio Yatsuhashi. While other stores may carry yatsuhashi, this is the place to find all of the seasonal flavors, as well as free samples. Most of these shops are located in Higashiyama. The most convenient for tourists is probably the one on Kiyomizu-zaka, just below the entrance to Kiyomizu-dera.

While many tourists find raw yatsuhashi to be a delicious (and highly affordable) souvenir, be aware that it only lasts for one week after purchase. Baked yatsuhashi on the other hand, will last for about three months. Consider this when deciding what gifts to take home with you.

Other specialties

Other Kyoto specialities include hamo (a white fish served with ume as sushi), tofu (try places around Nanzenji temple), suppon (an expensive turtle dish), vegetarian dishes (thanks to the abundance of temples), and kaiseki-ryori (multi-course chef's choice that can be extremely expensive).

Asahi
Asahi

Kyoto's night scene is dominated by bars, most of which are located in Central Kyoto around Kiyamachi, between Shijo and Sanjo. This area offers a wide variety of drinking options for all types of people. You'll also have no trouble finding the host and hostess bars, courtesy of the staff pacing around out front trying to entice visitors. There are plenty of options beyond this street in other regions, but with such a large concentration of bars along in the same area, its easy to locate a place where you feel most at home to relax for the night.

If you're looking for nightclubs, Kyoto has a few options, but it is not a city known for its thriving dance clubs. Those hoping to experience that part of Japanese nightlife should consider taking a train to Osaka where many of the clubs are hip and wild enough to rival any Tokyo club.

Sake

Some of Kyoto's most famous sake comes from Gekkeikan Brewery in the Fushimi area of Southern Kyoto. A 400 year old brewery that still produces great sake, Gekkeikan offers tours of its facilities.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget below ¥11,000
Mid-range ¥11,000–20,000
Splurge over ¥20,000

Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors. During peak seasons, such as the cherry blossoms in April or during Golden Week when accommodation is difficult to get, consider staying in Osaka. A thirty minute train ride from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station will cost you ¥540 one way. Since Kyoto is a major tourist destination, demand is high and prices follow suit.

Most of the lodging in the city is clustered near the central city, especially around Kyoto Station and the downtown area near Karasuma-Oike. The outer areas have a scattering of their own, tending towards inexpensive but often much further from train or subway stations.

Japanese Style Ryokan
Japanese Style Ryokan

At the bottom of the price scale, many temples in Kyoto own and run their own lodging complex known as shukubō (宿坊), usually located on or near temple grounds. Guests are often invited to participate in morning prayer service (otsutome) held at the temple. Unfortunately, most temple lodgings do not have English-speaking receptions, and curfews and check-in/out times tend to be strict. Most are located in the northern region of the city.

Hostels are common and popular with students. Inexpensive hotels lack amenities but compensate with prices surprisingly low for Japan; both can be found in all regions of the city, and may be the only options available if you need to stay in an outlying ward.

The majority of self-named ryokan in this range are actually minshuku. Most are small family-run operations and accustomed to dealing with foreigners. Be prepared to pay for the full stay in advance.

Midrange

The boundary between budget and midrange is often unclear, particularly among ryokan. Hotels in this category are concentrated in Central Kyoto, serving the business market with the typical amenities and close proximity to transportation.

Splurge

Split between the downtown and Higashiyama areas on each side of the Kamogawa River, these top-of-the-line lodgings can make your airfare look cheap. Western-style hotels dominate in this category; unlike the midrange options, very few of the high end ryokan can be booked without a fluent command of Japanese.

  • Uji - the best tea in Japan and the Byodo-in temple.
  • Kurama - less than an hour's journey by a local train from Kyoto Demachi-Yanagi station, the small village of Kurama has real onsen (Japanese natural hot springs).
  • Lake Biwa - if the summer humidity has drained your will to sightsee, take a day swimming at the underrated beaches of western Lake Biwa. Popular choices include Omi Maiko and Shiga Beach, each about 40 minutes from Kyoto on the JR Kosei Line.
  • Mount Hiei - an ancient hilltop temple complex that traditionally guarded (and occasionally raided) Kyoto.
  • Nara - less than an hour's journey by train on the JR Nara line from Kyoto station, Nara is an even older capital than Kyoto and has a stunning collection of temples in a giant landscaped park.
  • Osaka - about half an hour from Kyoto by JR rapid train, this bustling city offers more retail opportunities and a central castle.
  • Himeji - about an hour by Shinkansen west of Kyoto, Himeji boasts a spectacular traditional castle.
Routes through Kyoto
ENDShin-Osaka  W noframe E  MaibaraNagoya
TottoriToyooka  W noframe E  END
KobeOsaka  W noframe E  OtsuNagoya
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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also kyōto, and Kyōto

Contents

English

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Alternative spellings

Etymology

From Japanese 京都 (kyōto), capital).

Proper noun

Singular
Kyoto

Plural
-

Kyoto

  1. A city in Japan on the island of Honshu that once served as Japan’s capital.
  2. The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change -- An amendment to the international treaty on climate change, assigning mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to signatory nations.

Translations

Anagrams


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|200px|right|The Golden Temple in Kyoto.]]

Kyoto (京都) is a city in Japan. This city was the capital of Japan from 794 until 1868. In those days, the Japanese Emperors lived in this city.

Now, Kyoto is a major city of the Kansai area of Japan. Its population is 1.5 million people. The city of Kyoto is the capital of a bigger place, the prefecture of Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the cultural, educational, and technology centers of Japan. In it are many universities including Kyoto University, the second oldest national university of Japan.

There are mountains around the city on the east, north, and west sides. Some people in Kyoto believe that these mountains make Kyoto's summer especially hot and humid, and Kyoto's winter very cold.

We can see many temples and shrines built in traditional Japanese architectural styles here. Some of those buildings are registered as World Heritage sites of UNESCO. On the other hand, since Kyoto was one of biggest and wealthiest Japanese cities in the middle of the 19th century; the citizens were eager to import European style, and there are many European style buildings in the center of Kyoto for company offices and schools.

Kyoto is one of oldest cities in Japan. Many tourists from all over the world come to Kyoto. Japanese people often come to Kyoto in the spring to see the cherry blossoms, and in the autumn to see the leaves change color.

Traditional Kyoto food often uses vegetables. McDonald's signbords in Kyoto are brown to preserve the traditional surroundings.

The oldest novel in the world, Shikibu Murasaki's The Tale of Genji, is set in Heian Era Kyoto.

Kyoto is famous for three great festivals: Gion festival, Aoi festival in the summer, and Jidai festival in the autumn.

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