Kyoto Travel Guide

Home>>Asia>>Japan>> Kyoto Travel Guide

Kyoto historically known as Meaco is a city located in the central part of the island of Honshu, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, it is now the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture located in the Kansai region, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. One historical nickname for the city is the City of Ten Thousand Shrines.

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

In Japanese, the city has been called Kyo, Miyako, or Kyo no Miyako. In the 11th century, the city was renamed Kyoto ("capital city"), after the Chinese word for capital city, jingdu. After Edo was renamed Tokyo (meaning "Eastern Capital") in 1868, Kyoto was known for a short time as Saikyo (meaning "Western Capital").

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

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 Otsu in Shiga Prefecture. The site was designated as World Heritage in 1994.

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

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.

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

Although ravaged by wars, fires, and earthquakes during its eleven centuries as the imperial capital, Kyoto was spared from much of the destruction of World War II. 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.

1