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Kyoto

What is the first thing that floats to your mind when thinking about Japan? For some people, it will be a city with temples, shrines, and tiled roofs, with a castle overlooking it. Maybe with the addition of a samurai holding his sword and surveilling the city… The archetype that embodies this semi-real scenario is arguably “Kyoto”. The above depiction of “Kyoto” has been propagated at the end of the 19th century when “Kyoto” was the political centre of Japan and movies and novels that included people and events happening in “Kyoto” became extremely popular amongst Japanese people. That was the time when a peaceful era of over 250 years under the Japanese Shogunate came to an end, and the rapid modernization process started. “Kyoto”, which historically has seen scenarios of both ruin and blooming, remains a place which is full of charm.

The history of “Kyoto” harks back to the end of the 8th century. As the first character of “Kyoto”, “kyo:京(means imperial capital)” gives away, the city of “Kyoto” was first created to serve as the capital of Japan. In a first instance called “Heian-kyo”, “Kyoto” was built while partially emulating the capital of the “Tang Dynasty”. Architectural style and skills of Feng Shui seem to have also been actively integrated into the construction of the city. Since that time, “Kyoto” served as the political and cultural centre of Japan for up to a thousand years. Following the “Meiji Restoration” at the end of the 18th century, the capital moved to “Tokyo”, and the vigour and attractiveness towards “Kyoto” momentarily decayed, together with its rapid modernization and construction works. Despite undergoing many changes, there was still an attempt to preserve the “taste of the days gone by”, which is still remarkable today. “Kyoto” has been shattered and burned down several times, having been the political and cultural centre of Japan for many years after the establishment of “Heian-Kyo” and therefore been involved in persistent battles. Despite it all, it was rigorously rebuilt every time. “Kyoto” can be said to have been one of the most ancient battlefields in Japan and the place where a vast amount of historical events happened.

The most remarkable difference between “Kyoto” and other major cities is that “Kyoto” is not on the sea, although it has large rivers. The panorama of the town is very different from other areas in Japan. “Kyoto” was constructed following a grid pattern and limiting the number of high buildings in order not to ruin the landscape. In some areas, the colour and facade of buildings are also affected by restrictions. You might find places that look similar to “Kyoto” in terms of city structure abroad, but at least within Japan, “Kyoto” is matchless. In “Kyoto”, you can find great crafts, food culture and architecture that convey some part of Japanese culture. Above all, you can enjoy its unique ambience and its fineness. We suggest visiting the site after having researched its history so that you can make the most of your time there!

Below, we will be introducing the main touristic areas in “Kyoto”. We will also make sure to recommend areas that are good sightseeing spots also other than “Kyoto” in the “Travel guidebook” section. Please check it out!

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