City of thousand years

Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, and carries a reputation as its most beautiful city. During the time, Kyoto was the residence of the Emperor and also the center of Japanese power, culture, tradition, and religion.

Kyoto is endowed with an almost overwhelming legacy of ancient Buddhist temples, majestic palaces and gardens of every size and description, not to mention some of the country's most important works of art, its richest culture and most refined cuisine. For many people the very name Kyoto conjures up the classic image of Japan: streets of traditional wooden houses, the click-clack of geta (traditional wooden sandals) on the paving stones, geisha passing in a flourish of brightly colored silks, and temple pagodas surrounded by cherry blossom trees.

Kyoto was among the few Japanese cities that escaped the allied bombings of World War II and as a result, Kyoto still has an abundance of prewar buildings, such as the traditional townhouses known as machiya. However the city is continuously undergoing modernization with some of the traditional Kyoto buildings being replaced by newer architecture, such as the Kyoto Station complex.


During the 8th century, when powerful Buddhist clergy became involved in the affairs of the Imperial government, the Emperor chose to relocate the capital to a region far from the Buddhist influence. Emperor Kammu selected the village of Uda, at the time in the Kadono district of Yamashiro Province, for this honour.

The new city, Heiankyo (平安京, "tranquility and peace capital"), a scaled replica of the then Tang capital Chang'an, became the seat of Japan's imperial court in 794, beginning the Heian period of Japanese history. Although military rulers established their governments either in Kyoto (Muromachi shogunate) or in other cities such as Kamakura (Kamakura shogunate) and Edo (Tokugawa shogunate), Kyoto remained Japan's capital until the transfer of the imperial court to Tokyo in 1869 at the time of the Imperial Restoration.


Kyoto contains roughly 2,000 temples and shrines, and receives over 30 million tourists annually. 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 Ōtsu in Shiga Prefecture. The site was designated as World Heritage in 1994.


Kyoto was the kitchen of the Imperial Court. Top ranking nobles inherited a multitude of refined cuisines, including specialties unique to Kyoto such as “Kaiseki-ryori” and vegetarian friendly “Shojin-ryori”, as well as “Obanzai” for everyday dining. Other Kyoto specialties include, Kyoyasai (traditional Kyoto vegetables), Yatsuhashi (Kyoto snack), Matcha (green tea) from Uji City, hamo (a white fish served with ume as sushi), Yu Do-fu (try places around Nanzenji temple), suppon (an expensive turtle dish), vegetarian dishes (thanks to the abundance of temples), and kaiseki-ryori (multi-course chef's choice that can be extremely good and expensive).

Today Kyoto remains the home of traditional Japanese cuisine, and there are many specialty eateries for sushi, tempura, soba, and ramen. Kyoto is also famous throughout Japan for Japanese sweets. It goes without saying that eating in Kyoto is a fun, enriching experience.


Kyoto has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa), featuring a marked seasonal variation in temperature and precipitation. Summers are hot and humid, though contrarily, winters are relatively cold with occasional snowfall. Kyoto's rain season begins around the middle of June and lasts until the end of July, yielding to a hot and sunny latter half of the summer. Kyoto, along with most of the Pacific coast and central areas of Japan, is prone to typhoons during September and October.


Kyoto Attractions

  • Kiyomizudera Temple

    Kiyomizudera Temple
    Its history and spectacular vantage point overlooking the city attracts visitors from the world.The beauty is enhanced by the cherry blossoms and fresh verdure in spring and colored leaves in autumn.
  • Kinkakuji Temple

    Kinkakuji Temple
    Kinkakuji Temple is a Zen temple built in 1397. With Golden Pavilion which is covered with gold leaf and beautiful Japanese garden, the Kinkakuji Temple is a wonderful masterpiece of the Muromachi era.
  • Ginkakuji Temple

    Ginkakuji Temple
    Best known for its gardens and Silver Pavilion, this 1482 founded Zen temple is one of the outstanding temples of the Muromachi era and was a center of Higashiyama Culture.
  • Sanjusangendo Temple

    Sanjusangendo Temple
    Founded in 1164, Sanjusangendo Temple is a Buddhist temple which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kan’non. The temple complex contains buildings rich in history as well as architectural beaut.
  • Nijojo Castle

    Nijojo Castle
    Built in 1601 as the official Kyoto residence of Tokugawa shoguns. The grounds are large, and contain imposing buildings and lovely gardens as well as groves of plum and cherry trees.
  • Heian Shrine

    Heian Shrine
    Built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. It is popular as a religious and historical center, and is notable for cherry-blossom trees and beautiful gardens.
  • Jishujinja Temple

    Jishujinja Temple
    One of the most famed match-making temples in Kyoto. People come to play also for avoidance of bad luck and accomplishment of school work, etc. Jishu-zakura makes the temple the viewing spot.
  • Sanneizaka

    If you want to have lots of fun in Kyoto, you cannot miss this representative walking trail in Kyoto. Along the path are Kyoto cuisine restaurant, unique shops and Japanese traditional houses.
  • Gion

    Kyoto's most famous geisha district. It is filled with shops, restaurants, machiya and teahouses where geisha entertain. Parts of the area has been declared a national historical preservation district.
  • Yasaka Shrine

    Yasaka Shrine
    Yasaka Shrine is a Shinto shrine known for Gion Festival, beauty of God. It is important for Kyoto's inhabitants. Some local people call it Gion-san with respect. Can't miss Lanterns illuminated at night.
  • Togetsukyo Bridge

    Togetsukyo Bridge
    Crossing the bridge is a highlight of visit to Arashiyama. From feeding fish over the railing to enjoying the splendor of cherry blossoms and fall foliage, the bridge is a gateway to a stunningly scenic way of life.
  • Hozu River Cruise

    Hozu River Cruise
    In the trip, visitors can see valley features rocks of fantastic shapes, mountains, wildlife, etc. With cherry blossoms, colorful leaves and snowy landscape, the beauty of river is worth to see the whole year.
  • Nishijin Textile Center

    Nishijin Textile Center
    Visitors can enjoy kimono fashion shows, weaving demonstrations, the experience of wearing kimono. Japanese and Western items made of Nishijin material can be purchased at the souvenir shop.
  • Nonomiya Shrine

    Nonomiya Shrine
    Nonomiya shrine is famous for gods of good match and learning, and its black torii gate. The unique moss garden and bamboo grove around the shrine are also worth to see.
  • Byodoin Temple

    Byodoin Temple
    Byodoin Temple is a Buddhist temple founded in 1052. Together with its garden, the temple represents the Pure Land Paradise and was influential on later temple construction.
  • Sanzenin Temple

    Sanzenin Temple
    Sanzenin Temple is one of the five Tendai Buddhism Monzeki temples and is highly ranked in Tendai sect. Famous for its buldings, garden and autumn foliage, the temple is worth a visit when you come to Ohara.
  • Jakkoin Temple

    Jakkoin Temple
    It is a nunnery of Tendai sect known as the place which was described in the Tale of the Heikei, and for it’s autumn leaves and spring flowers. It houses many historical buildings and beautiful strolling garden.
  • Zenrinji Temple

    Zenrinji Temple
    It is famous for its fall foliage. The buildings are spacious and beautiful, and elegant covered wooden walkways connect them all together. Another spot is the attractive garden at Hojo Pond.
  • Tenryuji Temple

    Tenryuji Temple
    The 1339 established temple is held in high esteem, and is ranked as the head temple of its own school. Main attraction is the beautiful Zen garden dating back to the 14th century.
  • Toji Temple

    Toji Temple
    The oldest temple in Kyoto. On addition to well-known pagoda, the temple is popular for its buildings, Buddhist sculptures, a pond, and the Rakunan school. UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Tofukuji Temple

    Tofukuji Temple
    Founded in 1236, it has historically been one of the principal Zen temples. It is particularly famous for its Zen buildings such as massive entrance gate, gardens and spectacular autumn colors.
  • Nanzenji Temple

    Nanzenji Temple
    Established in 1291, the temple is considered as the most important Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Visitors can see the most beautiful buildings, Hojo gardens, painting on sliding doors among Zen temples.

Attractions in Japan