Kyoto today only has 1.4 million inhabitants, but has tremendous cultural assets including around 20% of Japan’s National Treasures, and 15% of the Important Cultural Properties. Capital of Japan from 794 until the 1868 “Meiji Restoration”, this city is cupped in a ring of mountains and cut through by rivers. Home of several UNESCO World Heritage sites, the city remains beautiful in parts, but has an unfortunate micro-climate – Kyoto is notorious for uncomfortably hot/humid summers and frigid cold winters. Kyoto is a must see for any traveler interested in Japan, with a long history and rich culture. Although the genteel roof lines and historic cityscape have largely been replaced by a concrete, steel and neon mess, traditions remain vital to the city – people flock to see raked pebble gardens at Zen temples such as Ryoan-ji or Ginkaku-ji, experience the artworks and history of Nijo Castle, dine in Pontocho or experience an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan in Gion.
A major business center and home of high tech corporations such as Kyocera (Kyoto Ceramic), there are as many temples to mammon as to deities. Kyoto is also a major student town with more than 35 universities and colleges – and although some may be attracted by famous colleges, one of the major lures attracting young Japanese university students to Kyoto is the raucous nightlife. It is a particularly great place during the Gion Festival and New Year.
It is important to remember that Kyoto is more than just the city. The prefecture stretches far to the north, and the beautiful Amanohashidate on Miyazu Bay is actually part of Kyoto. there are so many places to explore.
City Highlights – Ryoan-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Nijo Castle, Kiyomizudera, Jishu Shrine, Sannen-zaka & Ninnen-zaka walk Ginkaku-ji, Path of Philosophy, Nanzen-ji, Imperial Palace, Mt. Hiei and Enryaku-ji, Heian jingu, Saiho-ji, Tenryu-ji, Ichiriki Ochaya
Gion District & Festival – Yasaka (Gion) Shrine | Gion Festival | Maruyama park | Pleasure quarters | Pontocho | Teramachi | Shijo Street Shopping
Region Highlights – Uji, Byodoin, Ujigami Shrine, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Obakusan-Manpukuji, The Tale of Genji sites & museum, Uji Bridge
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