Kyoto (京都, Kyōto, /kiˈoʊtoʊ/;/ˈkjoʊtɒ/; Japanese: [kʲoːꜜto] ( listen)), officially Kyoto City (京都市, Kyōto-shi, Japanese: [kʲoːtoꜜɕi] ( listen)), is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture in Japan. Located in the Kansai region on the island of Honshu, Kyoto forms a part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kobe. As of 2018, the city has a population of 1.47 million.
In 794, Kyoto (then known as Heian-kyō) was chosen as the new seat of Japan's imperial court. The Emperors of Japan would rule from Kyoto in the following eleven centuries until 1869, when the court relocated to Tokyo. The city was devastated during the Ōnin War in the 15th century and went into an extended period of decline, but gradually revived under the Tokugawa shogunate (1600–1868) and flourished as a major city in Japan. The modern municipality of Kyoto was established in 1889. The city was spared from large-scale destruction during World War II and as a result, its prewar cultural heritage has mostly been preserved.
Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan and a major tourist destination.
In Japanese, Kyoto was previously called Kyō (京), Miyako (都), or Kyō no Miyako (京の都). In the 11th century, the city was renamed "Kyōto" (京都, "capital city"), from the Middle Chinese kiang-tuo (cf. Mandarin jīngdū). After the city of Edo was renamed "Tōkyō" (東京, meaning "Eastern Capital") in 1868 and the seat of the Emperor was moved there, Kyoto was for a short time known as "Saikyō" (西京, meaning "Western Capital"). Kyoto is also sometimes called the thousand-year capital (千年の都).
The National Diet never officially passed any law designating a capital. Foreign spellings for the city's name have included Kioto, Miaco and Meaco, utilised mainly by Dutch cartographers. Another term commonly used to refer to the city in the pre-modern period was Keishi (京師), "capital".
Ample archaeological evidence suggests human settlement in the area of Kyoto began as early as the Paleolithic period, although not much published material is retained about human activity in the region before the 6th century, around which time the Shimogamo Shrine is believed to have been established.
During the 8th century, when powerful Buddhist clergy became involved in the affairs of the Imperial government, Emperor Kanmu chose to relocate the capital in order to distance it from the clerical establishment in Nara. His last choice for the site was the village of Uda, in the Kadono district of Yamashiro Province.
The new city, Heian-kyō (平安京, "tranquility and peace capital"), a scaled replica of the then Chinese Tang dynasty capital Chang'an, became the seat of Japan's imperial court in 794, beginning the Heian period of Japanese history. Although military rulers established their governments either in Kyoto (Muromachi shogunate) or in other cities such as Kamakura (Kamakura shogunate) and Edo (Tokugawa shogunate), Kyoto remained Japan's capital until the transfer of the imperial court to Tokyo in 1869 at the time of the Imperial Restoration.
The city suffered extensive destruction in the Ōnin War of 1467–1477, and did not really recover until the mid-16th century. During the Ōnin War, the shugo collapsed, and power was divided among the military families. Battles between samurai factions spilled into the streets, and came to involve the court nobility (kuge
In the late 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi reconstructed the city by building new streets to double the number of north-south streets in central Kyoto, creating rectangle blocks superseding ancient square blocks. Hideyoshi also built earthwork walls called odoi (御土居) encircling the city. Teramachi Street in central Kyoto is a Buddhist temple quarter where Hideyoshi gathered temples in the city. Throughout the Edo period, the economy of the city flourished as one of three major cities in Japan, the others being Osaka and Edo.
The Hamaguri rebellion of 1864 burnt down 28,000 houses in the city which showed the rebels' dissatisfaction towards the Tokugawa Shogunate. The subsequent move of the Emperor to Tokyo in 1869 weakened the economy. The modern city of Kyoto was formed on April 1, 1889. The construction of Lake Biwa Canal in 1890 was one measure taken to revive the city. The population of the city exceeded one million in 1932.
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 large enough to possibly persuade the emperor to surrender. In the end, at the insistence of Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, the city was removed from the list of targets and replaced by Nagasaki. The city was largely spared from conventional bombing as well, although small-scale air raids did result in casualties.
As a result, the Imperial City (Emeritus) of Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities that still have 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 Kyōto Station complex.
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 original city was arranged in accordance with traditional Chinese feng shui following the model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'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-ku 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.
Historically, Kyoto was the largest city in Japan, later surpassed by Osaka and Edo (Tokyo) towards the end of the 16th century. In the pre-war years, Kyoto traded places with Kobe and Nagoya ranking as the 4th and 5th largest city. In 1947, it went back to being 3rd. By 1960 it had fallen to 5th again, and by 1990 it had fallen to 7th, in 2015 it is now 9th.
Kyoto has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), featuring a marked seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation. Summers are hot and humid, but winters are relatively cold with occasional snowfall. Kyoto's rain season begins around the middle of June and lasts until the end of July, yielding to a hot and sunny latter half of the summer. Kyoto, along with most of the Pacific coast and central areas of Japan is prone to typhoons during September and October.
Politics and government
The directly elected executive mayor in Kyoto as of 2013 is Daisaku Kadokawa, an independent supported by Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito Party, Your Party and Social Democratic Party. The legislative city assembly has 69 elected members.
- 2008 Kyoto mayoral election
- 2012 Kyoto mayoral election
- 2016 Kyoto mayoral election (ja:2016年京都市長選挙)
Kyoto has eleven wards (区, ku).
Together, they make up the city of Kyoto.
Although ravaged by wars, fires, and earthquakes during its eleven centuries as the imperial capital, Kyoto was not entirely destroyed in WWII. It was removed from the atomic bomb target list (which it had headed) by the personal intervention of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, as Stimson wanted to save this cultural center, which he knew from his honeymoon and later diplomatic visits. Kyoto has been, and still remains, Japan's cultural center. The government of Japan is relocating the Agency for Cultural Affairs to Kyoto in 2021.
With its 2,000 religious places – 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 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 Sentō 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. In addition, the temple of Sennyu-ji houses the tombs of the emperors from Shijō to Kōmei.
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 Nijō Castle, primarily built by the Tokugawa shōguns. Other sites outside the city are also on the list.
Kyoto is renowned for its abundance of delicious Japanese foods and cuisine.
Japan's television and film industry has its center in Kyoto.
The dialect spoken in Kyoto is known as Kyō-kotoba or Kyōto-ben, a constituent dialect of the Kansai dialect. When Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the Kyoto dialect was the de facto standard Japanese and influenced the development of Tokyo dialect, the modern standard Japanese. Courtesans performing duties at Tokyo were referred to as "Edokko" (bourgois). Famous Kyoto expressions are a polite copula dosu, an honorific verb ending -haru, a greeting phrase okoshi-yasu "welcome", etc.
The key industry of Kyoto is information technology and electronics: the city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo, Intelligent Systems, SCREEN Holdings, Tose, Hatena, Omron, Kyocera, Shimadzu Corp., Rohm, Horiba, Nidec Corporation, Nichicon, Nissin Electric, and GS Yuasa.
Tourists are hugely fond of Kyoto, contributing significantly to its economy. The cultural heritage sites of Kyoto are constantly visited by school groups from across Japan, and many foreign tourists also stop in Kyoto. In 2014, the city government announced that a record number of tourists had visited Kyoto, and it was favoured as the world's best city by U.S. travel magazines.
Traditional Japanese crafts are also major industry of Kyoto, most of which are run by artisans in their 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.
The concentration of population to the capital city area is 55%, which is highest among the prefectures.
Colleges and universities
Home to 40 institutions of higher education, Kyoto is one of the academic centers in Japan. Kyoto University is considered to be one of the top national universities nationwide. According to the Times Higher Education top-ranking university, Kyoto University is ranked the second university in Japan after University of Tokyo, and 25th overall in the world as of 2010. 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. Popular private universities, such as Doshisha University and Ritsumeikan University are also located in the city.
Kyoto also has a unique higher education network called the Consortium of Universities in Kyoto, which consists of three national, three public (prefectural and municipal), and 45 private universities, as well as the city and five other organizations.
In addition to Japanese universities and colleges, selected American universities, such as Stanford, also operates in the city for education and research.
Although Kyoto does not have its own large commercial airport, travelers can get to the city via nearby Itami Airport, Kobe Airport or Kansai International Airport. The Haruka Express operated by JR West carries passengers from Kansai Airport to Kyoto Station in 73 minutes.
Osaka Airport Transport buses connect Itami Airport and Kyoto Station Hachijo Gate in 50 minutes and cost 1,310 yen (as of 2017) for a one-way trip. Some buses go further, make stops at major hotels and terminals in the downtown area.
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.
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 is 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. There are five bicycle rental stations and 21 EcoStations in central Kyoto. Because of the large number of cyclists, permitted bicycle parking areas can be difficult to find. Bicycles parked in non-permitted areas are impounded.
Within Kyoto's ancient lanes, one-way system is prevalent and necessary for preservation of its character.
Although Greater Kyoto has fewer toll-highways than other comparable Japanese cities, it is served with elevated dual and even triple-carriageway national roads.
Just like other major cities in Japan, Kyoto is well served by rail transportation systems operated by several different companies and organizations.
The Karasuma Line is coloured green, and its stations are given numbers following the letter "K".
The line has following stations, from north to south: Kokusaikaikan (terminal) and Matsugasaki in Sakyō-ku; Kitayama and Kitaōji in Kita-ku; Kuramaguchi and Imadegawa in Kamigyō-ku; Marutamachi and Karasuma Oike in Nakagyō-ku; Shijō, Gojō and Kyōto in Shimogyō-ku; Kujō and Jūjō in Minami-ku; and Kuinabashi and Takeda (terminal) in Fushimi-ku.
Between Kitaōji and Jūjō, trains run beneath the north-south Karasuma Street (烏丸通, Karasuma-dori), hence the name. They link to the other subway line, the Tōzai 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 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.
The Tōzai Line is coloured vermilion, and its stations are given numbers following the letter "T".
The line has following stations, from east to west: Rokujizō (terminal) in Uji; Ishida and Daigo in Fushimi-ku; Ono, Nagitsuji, Higashino, Yamashina and Misasagi in Yamashina-ku; Keage, Higashiyama and Sanjō Keihan in Higashiyama-ku; Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae, Karasuma Oike, Nijōjō-mae, Nijō and Nishiōji Oike in Nakagyō-ku; and Uzumasa Tenjingawa (terminal) in Ukyō-ku.
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.
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'yō Shinkansen, such as Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, and Fukuoka. The trip from Tokyo takes about two hours and eighteen 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.
Japanese trade and haulage traditionally took place by waterways, minimally impacting the environment up until the highway-systems built by Shogunates.
Kyoto contains roughly 2,000 temples and shrines.
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 was designated as World Heritage in 1994.
- Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum
- 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
- Kyoto City Archaeological Museum (京都市考古資料館)
- Kyoto Art Center
- The Kyoto International Manga Museum
- The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
- 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 Fine 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)
- Ryozen Museum of History (幕末維新ミュージアム 霊山歴史館)
- Sen-oku Hakuko Kan (泉屋博古館)
- Toei Kyoto Studio Park (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 Garden and Museum (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)
- Ōkōchi Sansō (大河内山荘)
- The Kyoto Kaleidoscope Museum (京都万華鏡ミュージアム)
- Kyoto Railway Museum
Kyoto is well known for its traditional festivals which have been held for over 1000 years and are a major tourist attraction. 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 no 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.
In football, Kyoto is represented by Kyoto Sanga FC 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. Nishikyogoku Athletic Stadium is its home stadium.
Amateur football clubs such as F.C.
Between 1951 and 1952 the Central League team Shochiku Robins played their franchised games at Kinugasa Ballpark (ja:衣笠球場, Kinugasa Kyujo) in Kita-ku. In 2010, Nishikyogoku Stadium in Ukyo-ku became the home of a newly formed girls professional baseball team, the Kyoto Asto Dreams.
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, near Osaka.
Kyoto Racecourse in Fushimi-ku is one of ten racecourses operated by the Japan Racing Association. It hosts notable horse races including the Kikuka-shō, Spring Tenno Sho, and Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup.
Kyoto, having been the capital city of Japan, a seat of learning and culture, has long-established ties with other great cities around the world.
- Boston, Massachusetts, United States (1959)
- Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (1963)
- Prague, Czech Republic (1996)
- Florence, Tuscany, Italy (1965)
- Kiev, Ukraine (1971)
- Xi'an, Shaanxi, China (1974) (Friendship City)
- Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (1980)
- Zagreb, Croatia (1981)
In addition to its sister city arrangements which involve multi-faceted cooperation, Kyoto has created a system of "partner cities" which focus on cooperation based on a particular topic.
- Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea (1999)
- Konya, Turkey (2009)
- Paris, France (1958)
- Qingdao, Shandong, China (2012)
- Huế, Vietnam (2013)
- Istanbul, Turkey (2013)
- Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India (2014)
- Vientiane, Laos (2015)