Kyoto


Kawaramachi district during Gion Festival

Kyōto (京都市; -shi lit. capital city) is a city in Japan that has a population of 1.5 million and time zone UTC + 9 hours. It was once the capital of Japan and now is the capital of Kyoto prefecture.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography
3 Demographics
4 Culture
5 Economy
6 Colleges and universities
7 Festivals
8 Transportation
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 External link

History

Kyoto was the capital or Heian Kyo of Japan from 794 until the transfer of the government to Tokyo in 1868 at the time of the Imperial Restoration. Located on the middle-western portion of the island of Honshu the city is surrounded by mountains.

Though archaeological evidence places the first human settlement on the islands of Japan to approximately 10,000 BC, the Kyoto area was not settled until the 7th century by the Hata clan from Korea. During the 8th century, when the powerful Buddhist clergy became meddlesome in the affairs of the Imperial government, the Emperor chose to relocate the capital to a region far from the Buddhist influence.

Because of the number of priceless cultural heritages in Kyoto, the city was not bombed during World War II. Today, it is the only major city in Japan that still has an abundance of prewar buildings, although modernization is continually breaking down the traditional Kyoto in favor of newer architecture, such as the controversial Kyoto Station complex.

Geography

The city was laid out in a logical grid pattern in accordance with traditional Chinese geomancy. Today, the main business district is located in the south and centre of town with the less populated northern area retaining a far greener feel.

Because Kyoto is surrounded by mountains on all sides, it is infamous for its stifling summer nights with no air movement.

Kyoto has following wards: Fushimi-ku, Higashiyama-ku, Kamigyo-ku, Kita-ku, Minami-ku, Nakagyo-ku, Nishikyo-ku, Sakyo-ku, Shimogyo-ku, Ukyo-ku and Yamashina-ku.

Demographics

As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 1,466,163 and the density of 2,402.68 persons per km². The total area is 610.22 km².

Kyoto people speak a dialect called Kyotoben, a slightly archaic version of Osakaben (the Osaka dialect). It is most noticeable in the unique Kyotoben word for "thank you" - "ookii-ni".

Culture

Kyoto is renowned for its abundance of delicious foodstuffs. Unlike the volcanic Kanto region the rich soil of Kyoto allows for the cultivation of a variety of vegetables, and the various bodies of water provide ample fishing.

Kyoto is considered the cultural center of Japan. During World War II when firebombing was conducted throughout the country Kyoto and its 1600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, palaces, gardens and architecture was spared. The Kyoto area has some of the most famous temples in Japan, including:

  • Uji's Byodoin (the world's oldest wooden structure, which appears on the 5 yen coin);
  • Kiyomizudera, a magnificent wooden temple supported by pillars off the slope of a mountain;
  • Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion;
  • Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion;
  • Heian Jingu, arguably Japan's most famous Shinto shrine.
  • Ryoan-ji, famous for its rock garden

Other notable sites in and around Kyoto include Arashiyama and its picturesque lake, the Philosopher's Walk, and the canals which line some of the older streets.

The "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" are listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Economy

Kyoto is home to the main headquarters of Nintendo, as well as its domestic division, Nintendo of Japan.

The car manufacturer Daihatsu operates a plant in Kyoto.

Kyoto is also the headquarters of Kyocera (Kyoto Ceramic).

Colleges and universities

Festivals

Jidai Matsuri

Transportation

Kansai International Airport is 60 minutes from Kyoto by train. Most foreign visitors to Kyoto arrive by Shinkansen from Tokyo, which takes about two hours. There are also regular JR, Keihan Railway, and Kintetsu services to other cities in the Kansai region.

The subway and bus systems (see Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau) are fairly extensive. Most tourist points in the city, however, are fairly easy to reach on foot.

Miscellaneous topics

It is the sister city with Boston, Paris, Cologne, Florence, Kiev, Xian, Guadalajara and Zagreb.

In 1997, Kyoto was the site of the Kyoto conference that resulted in the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.

External link




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