Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Kyoto, Kyoto
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Kyoto, Kyoto

Temple - a symbol of the city, and the tallest pagoda in Japan'']]

Kyōto (Japanese: 京都市; -shi) is a city in Japan that has a population of 1.5 million and time zone UTC + 9 hours. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto prefecture, as well as a major city of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area. An obsolete spelling for the city is Kioto.

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


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.

by night'']]

The new city, Heiankyo ("Heian capital") became the seat of Japan's imperial court in 794. Later, the city was renamed to Kyoto ("capital city"). 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 the legal capital: see Capital of Japan debate.) After Edo was renamed to Tokyo (meaning "Eastern Capital"), Kyoto was known for a short time as Saikyo (西京) (meaning "Western Capital").

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.

The city was designated on September 1, 1956 by government ordinance. In 1997, Kyoto was the site of the Kyoto conference that resulted in the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.


Located on the middle-western portion of the island of Honshu the city is surrounded by mountains. Because Kyoto is surrounded by mountains on all sides, it is infamous for its stifling summer nights with no air movement.

The city was laid out in a 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.

Kyoto is divided into the 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.


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 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 and shrines in Japan, including:

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. These include the Kamo Shrines (Kami and Shimo), Kyo-O-Gokokuji (Toji), Kiyomizu-dera, Daigoji, Ninnaji, Saihoji (the Moss Temple), Tenryuji, Rokuonji (Kinkaku-ji), Jishoji (Ginkaku-ji), Ryoan-ji, Honganji, Kozan-ji and the Nijo Castle. Other sites outside the city are also on the list.

Kyoto natives also speak a Japanese dialect called Kyoto-ben, a variation on the Kansai dialect spoken throughout western Japan. Kyoto-ben is most famous for the phrase "maido, ookii-ni," meaning "thank you very much."


Tourism 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.

The city's industry is mainly comprised of small plants, most of which are run by artisans who produce traditional Japanese crafts. 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.

Kyoto's only sizable heavy industry is electronics: the city is home to the headquarters of Nintendo and Nintendo of Japan, as well as the headquarters of Omron Corporation, Kyocera (Kyoto Ceramic) Corporation, and Murata Manufacturing. The apparel giant Wacoal Corporation and the car manufacturer Daihatsu also operates in Kyoto. However, the growth of high-tech industry has not outpaced the decline in traditional industry, and as a result, Kyoto's total output has declined relative to other cities in Japan.

Colleges and universities

Kyoto is known as one of the academic centers in the country, and is home to thirty-seven institutions of higher education. The three largest and best-known local universities are Doshisha University, Kyoto University, and Ritsumeikan University. Among them, Kyoto University is considered as one of the top universities in Japan with several Nobel laureates such as Yukawa Hideki.

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), 41 private universities as well as the city and four other organizations. The consortium does not offer a degree, hence is not a federal body like University of London, but offers the courses as part of degree at participating universities.


district during Gion Festival'']]

Aoi Matsuri
  • Gion Matsuri
  • Jidai Matsuri
  • Gozan Okuribi

  • 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, Hankyu 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.

    Buses within the city cost 220 Yen per ride. The most cost effective way to travel in Kyoto by bus is to purchase a 500 Yen one day pass which allows unlimited rides.

    Miscellaneous topics

    Kyoto has sister city arrangements with:

    External link