Hi guys, how are you? Today I bring you a great destination if you are thinking of going to Japan. Kyoto (or in Japanese Kyoto [京都]) is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Japan and the world. What's good there? I don't know if you are interested in temples, historic centers, different cultures, industrial centers, so I'm not going to mention just one, but all the sights in this part of Japan.
But before we look at the reflection in the water, let's see what's in it. That way we can be better informed and in relation to some important historical events and facts, we will not be left wanting if there is any situation that requires this knowledge. It will also be useful because Kyoto is rich in historic landmarks.
As the article is gigantic, we will leave a Summary Below to facilitate your navigation:
Kyoto general information
Kyoto is not only a city, but it is also the name of its province (state), it is located in the southern center of the country. Its population has about 1.5 million people in 2010, it was founded in the 1st century. It also became the capital of imperial Japan, being replaced in 1868 by the current Tokyo. It is also nicknamed "old capital" and "city of the samurai".
Kyoto is very close to Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Shiga, other major cities full of tourist spots. Kyoto is located in a very strategic point, its surroundings form a region known as Keihanshin, which is home to more than 18.5 million people (a relatively high number) becoming the second largest population region after Tokyo.
Little is known about Kyoto's history before the 6th century. During the 7th century, Emperor Kanmu decided to relocate the capital to a place far from the clerical establishment in Nara, at that time a large Buddhist clergy became involved in imperial government.
A new city called Heian-Kyo, became the seat of Japan's imperial court in 794. Thus beginning the Heian period in the history of Japan. and this is basically the principle of Kyoto, which remained the capital of Japan until the time of Meiji restoration.
Between 1467 - 1477, the city suffered great destruction during the õnin war, and did not recover until Toyotomi Hideyoshi rebuilt the city in the 16th century. Also making new streets to double the number of streets north-south of the city center. So a few years later, during the Edo period (we have an article here on the website talking specifically about this period), the city grew and became one of the three largest cities in Japan, alongside Osaka and Edo (now Tokyo).
Kyoto and World War II
As many of us know, Japan was largely destroyed during World War II, the two atomic bombs by themselves did disturbing damage both physical and metal in Japan. But it could be worse, not in the sense that the damage was relatively good or the like, I have to say that it could be much worse.
In 1932, the population of that city surpassed 1 million people. This means that during the second war, if it had been hit by one of the atomic bombs, more than half of this population could have died, all of this Hypothetically. Just to be clear, the US considered this issue for two reasons:
Why was Kyoto the intellectual center of Japan?
It had a large enough population to persuade the emperor to surrender. We have to thank Henry L. Stimson for his insistence on trying to save this cultural center he had known on his diplomatic trips and also on his honeymoon. This man was secretary of war in the Roosevelt and Truman governments. Thus Kyoto was removed from the targets and was no better replaced by Nagasaki. However Kyoto did not come out of this war completely unscathed, it suffered some bombings.
As a result of being cut off from bomb targets, Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities that still has a lot of pre-war buildings. But modernization is taking over the city and hiding traditional architecture in favor of modern.
But changing the subject, Kyoto is located in a valley, part of the Yamashiro basin, in the eastern part of the mountainous region known as the Tamba plateau. Surrounded by three mountains named Higashiyama, Katayama and Nishiyama. This basin contains three rivers, Ujgawa to the south, Katsuragawa to the west and Kamogawa to the east.
It was originally built according to traditional Chinese feng shui custom. As well the front of the imperial palace pointed towards the south, resulting in the Ukyõ that was the right side of the city in the west, and the Sakyõ that was the left side of the city in the east side.
Nowadays, in the southern part of the old palace is located the main business district, and in the northern part is the green and less populated part of the city. Kyoto is almost entirely dependent on Lake Biwa for its water supply, being partially dependent on the Uji River. Kyoto has eleven neighborhoods that together make up the city. and just as other Japanese cities also have only one mayor, it is a town hall.
With over 2000 religious sites as well as palaces, gardens and intact architecture, Kyoto is one of Japan's most unspoilt cities. Who has never heard of the Kinkaku-ki temple? The one known as the golden pavilion, so as not to spoil the surprise, I will no longer give examples. But I can say that this is a city with a rich culture and several cultural aspects that are very well preserved.
Kyoto is also known for its cuisine. As it is a city far from the sea and also home to many Buddhist temples, it resulted in a wide variety of peculiar vegetables being developed in the region. The spoken dialect is called Kyō-kotoba or Kyōto-bem, derived from the Kansai dialect. The dialect was in fact the standard Japanese at the time Kyoto was the capital and influenced the development of the Tokyo dialect, the modern standard Japanese.
To talk about the Kyoto industry, we have to mention things like Information technology, electronics, tourism, crafts and sake making as the most relevant. So it will be them that we will talk about. However just like any other city, there are several other sectors that participate and that will not be mentioned here.
But first, we will put more generalized information. The population concentration in the capital is 55%, this makes it the largest among all in this regard. Its economy has a significant difference between the coastal area and the interior area. In 2010, the country had the country's fourth largest economy, with around 10.12 trillion Japanese yen.
Kyoto economy sectors
Information technology and electronics are the main activities of Kyoto, it is home to the headquarters of companies such as Nintendo, Intelligent Systems, Nissin Eletric, Screen Holdings and others. All relevant companies in the area. Tourism has another large part in the economy, its cultural heritage are great attractions visited by tourists from all over the world and even scalar groups from all over Japan, yes there they have respect for their heritage regardless of the age of the people.
Handicrafts as a product of artisans and particularly the kimono weavers in this city are extremely popular. The latter was a great one in past centuries but has declined in recent years, however the city remains a major center for the manufacture of kimonos.
Finally, we have the sake industry, a traditional Kyoto industry. Companies like Gekkeikan and Takara Holdings are examples of companies based in the city, these in question are the largest among them. and as we know, sake is a traditional drink from Japan, just like cachaça is from Brazil, so we can deduce why this is such a big deal.
Education and transport in Kyoto
With the right attributes, every city can have a good education, but Kyoto stands out in this area for being one of Japan's academic centers. In addition to the 40 higher education institutions installed in the city, Kyoto University stands out among them for being considered a of the best in the country.
It is the second best University in the country, behind Tokyo University, which is no surprise, according to Times Higher Education, and even according to this Ranking, it is the 25th in the world. Not only it, but other famous private universities are also based in the city, such as Dõshisha University and Ritsumeikan University.
Perhaps this will be the subject of some Post in the future, as it is interesting to assess how good Japan's educational system is. But for now we will have to be content with just this information. But now we will move on to the main objective of this article, which is to present some options for tourism.
Books related to Kyoto
We will primarily cite the main sights and then make a list of other specific points of interest.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
It is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of red gates, which span a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead to the wooded forest of the sacred Monte Inari, which is 233 meters away and belongs to the sanctuary.
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousand shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are believed to be messengers of Inari, resulting in many fox statues on the grounds of the sanctuary. The shrine of Fushimi Inari has ancient origins, preceding the move from the capital to Kyoto in 794.
Kyoto Railway Museum
The Kyoto Railway Museum was opened in April 2016 by JR West at the former site of the Umekoji Train and Locomotive Museum, about a 20-minute walk from Kyoto Station.
Covering three floors over an area of 30,000 square meters, the museum displays a total of 53 retired trains, from steam locomotives to the latest electric and shinkansen trains. Visitors can also walk underneath and observe the inner workings of a retired cargo locomotive.
In addition to the railway museum there are many other museums like:
- Samurai & Ninja Museum;
- Gekkeikan Okura Sake;
- Kyoto International Manga Museum;
- Kyoto Shibori Museum;
- Kyoto National Museum;
- Kyoto Municipal Arts Museum;
- Jotenkaku Museum;
Nishiki Market and Shopping
The Nishiki Market (Nishiki Ichiba) is a narrow five-block shopping street, lined with more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as “Kyoto Cuisine”, this retail market specializing in related foods, such as fresh seafood, produce, knives and pans, is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties.
The stores found throughout the market vary in size, from small narrow stalls to large two-storey stores. Most are specialized in a specific type of food, and almost everything sold on the market is produced and purchased locally. Tourists especially like the inviting and pleasant atmosphere that this place offers.
Other popular Kyoto places where you can shop are:
- Kitano Tenmangū;
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)
Kinkakuji is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto, the top two floors of which are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement village of the Ashikaga Yoshimitsu shogun and, according to his will, it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408.
Kinkakuji is a built structure overlooking a large lake. It burned numerous times throughout its history, including twice during the Onin War; and again, in 1950, when it was set on fire by a fanatical monk. The current structure was rebuilt in 1955.
In addition to the golden temple, there is the silver temple called Ginkakuji which is located in the eastern region of Kyoto at the foot of Mount Tsukimachi, its work began in the late 15th century.
Arashiyama - Bamboo Forest and Monkey Mountain
Arashiyama is a tourist district on the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when the nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and autumn color seasons.
Togetsukyo Bridge is the famous central landmark of Arashiyama. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are nearby, including the Tenryuji Temple, the famous bamboo forests of Arashiyama.
The area to the north of the Togetsukyo bridge is known as Sagano, because the name "Arashiyama" technically only refers to the mountains on the south bank of the river, but it is commonly used to name the entire district.
Other sights of Kyoto
Gion - A district in Kyoto famous for being the center of the Geishas. In this neighborhood and around the center of Kyoto you will find many leisure options for nightlife besides the dear geishas, you will find many bars, restaurants, karaoke bar, concert halls and nightclubs.
Nijō Castle - It was Tokugawa Ieyasu who had it built in 1603.
Ginkaku-ji - Located in the east of Kyoto at the foot of Mount Tsukimachi, its work began in the late 15th century.
Kyōto Gosho - Kyōto Gosho, or Kyoto Palace, was an Imperial Palace of Japan during the Edo Period. Currently, its grounds are open to the public.
Heian Jingū - Heian Jingū is a Shinto temple, its torii that precedes the main gate is one of the largest in Japan.
Imperial Village of Katsura - A village with gardens and associated outbuildings in the western suburbs of Kyoto, Japan.
Kyoto Tower - The Kyoto Tower is an observation tower that measures 131 meters. The observation platform is 100 meters above the ground. At the base, there is a hotel and several shops.
Kyoto temples and shrines
Kiyomizu-dera - An independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ryōan-ji - A Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. It belongs to the Myōshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. It has a magnificent garden.
Byōdō-in - Buddhist temple in the city of Uji, Kyoto, Japan.
Kamomioya-jinja - Known as Shimogamo Shrine, it is a Shinto shrine, and is part of the Kamo Shrines.
Kyo-o-gokoku-ji - Better known as To-ji, it is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Its name means “East Temple”.
Sanjūsangen-do - Sanjūsangen-dō is a Buddhist temple in the Higashiyama district of Kyoto, Japan. Officially known as “Rengeō-in”, or King Lotus Hall.
- Shoren-in Monzeki;
- Sanzen-in Temple;
- Kennin-ji Temple;
- Tofuku-ji Temple;
- Toji Temple;
- Kodai-ji Temple;
- Nanzen-ji Temple;
- Tenryuji Temple;
- Shimogamo Jinja;
- Daikaku-ji Temple;
- Gio-ji Temple;
- Jojakkoji Temple;
Conclusion and Author Notes
For those who like history, culture and tradition like me, Kyoto is the cake and the cherry. Full of incredible temples, this place offers everything that a good lover of cultures may want, as well as religion, legends, ancient sites and modern and developed places such as universities and technological centers. The latter leaves a little to be desired when compared to the centers of Tokyo.
If I were to recommend this place, I would recommend it to people looking for relaxation and culture. For those who like excitement and technology I would recommend Tokyo, which is also another potential topic. That’s all this article can offer, if you have any questions, suggestions or criticisms just comment below. In addition, thank you, my dear reader, for following this article so far. and until next time.